Hold Yourself Accountable
As leaders, it’s sometimes easier for us to hold others accountable to their goals than it is to apply this much-needed discipline to ourselves. But if you want to improve your health, learn a new skill, or go after a new career opportunity, you can better your odds of success by taking a disciplined approach to making these dreams a reality. Get a good start by simply getting the plan out of your head and down on paper. Write out your goals, strategies, action steps/activities, and ideal timeline. When you do this, a direction will form naturally for you and increase your chances for success.
But then don’t stop there! After you’ve written your specific goals and the timeline for achieving those goals, keep the momentum going by doing the following:
Schedule time for “plan updates” with yourself. Whether you’re setting aside 15 minutes weekly or one hour monthly, enter into your calendar this important accountability assignment. Then stick to it. Taking these plan updates as seriously as you take other items on your calendar will give you that much-needed time and space to succeed with this practice. Use the time to revisit your plan, assess your progress, and identify both action and corrective-action steps that need to be made.
Watch out for—and avoid—temptation. We’ve all got excuses, not enough time on our hands, and too much going on. But if you allow that mindset to creep into your personal accountability efforts, you’re going to get off track, struggle needlessly or, worse, fail. What tempts you away from spending this much-needed time on yourself? Once you’ve determined this, ask yourself how you can avoid people, places or things that will trigger or enable failure. Also ask what you can do to make your discipline more enjoyable, enticing or downright irresistible! Create new behaviors to bolster your accountability plan and avoid habits or choices that undermine it.
Use a mentor/confidant. When you share personal goals with the right someone, that individual will form new expectations of you. Because you’ve told them your plan, as well as your strategies and action steps to achieve your goals, you’ve formalized your efforts to a higher degree. This very act of sharing builds accountability and helps you stay on course. Choose someone who will challenge you. Ask that person upfront to check in with you if you appear that you’re slipping off course—the right person won’t mind doing this because he or she truly wants to see you succeed. Consider inviting them to join you for your scheduled plan updates. That way, you’re accomplishing your task of checking in with yourself while having that mentor/confidant there to check in with you and perhaps assist with any challenges or immediate needs.
What other techniques or tools can help to support your own accountability?