Most people do not set goals.
Those who do set goals, tend to set them ineffectively.
Those who do set effective goals, tend not to write them down.
Those who do write them down, tend to record them in a diary or journal.
Those who write them in a diary or journal, tend to write them down once and never look at them again.
And those few people who do set effective goals, who write them down and review them frequently, still tend to NOT achieve their goal because they do not do the number one most important thing.
In order to achieve your goals, you must be held accountable for your actions.
You can buy the most beautiful journal and write out your 3 month, 6 month and 1-year goals. Then you can close the cover of that journal and never
No one need ever know what you wrote. No one need ever know what is important to you. No one need ever know how close (or far) you are away from doing what you said you were going to achieve.
When you keep it all to yourself and don’t tell anybody, the days easily slip by into weeks and months, and before you know it, it is the start of the new year and you are setting the exact same goals again and again…and again.
Don’t get me wrong. Accountability is not a magic bullet which will guarantee goal achievement but think of it this way. Even in the most high profile, high stake, make-or-break situations, politicians who have all the power, income and means at their disposal do not always do what they say they are going to do.
What makes you think that scrawling something down in your personal diary is going to be enough to keep you on the straight and narrow?!
After I started telling people what my goals were and making myself accountable, I actually started working on my goals. Before accountability, I was a daydreamer. After accountability, I am a day-DOER.
Here are three reasons why it works.
1. People will remind you about your goal
When you write your goal down, you may forget about it. When you tell other people, they do not forget!
Your nearest and dearest will frequently ask you “ how is it going with X?”, and because you are a good person and you don’t want to lie to their face you will tell the truth. And if the truth isn’t “I am working on X so hard on this right now and I’ve improved this much”, then that pretty soon that will become your truth.
There are only so many times where you can respond, “to be honest with you, I’ve done bugger all and if anything I’m worse than when I started!”
Do this — When you tell other people about your goal, tell them you would be grateful if they check in with you every now and then and ask about your progress.
2. You act to preserve your reputation
Picture this. You are sitting all cosy on the couch after a long day at work and the thought pops into your head “I could go to the gym right now”. You look longingly towards your lounge door and imagine putting on your training gear, heading to your car, parking up and then stepping on that treadmill to blast out a good 30 minutes of sweat.
You could stay on the couch, maybe grab a cheeky bowl of cereal and settle in to watch the latest series on Netflix.
When you keep your goal to yourself, you will most likely remain on that couch.
When you tell other people your goal, you will most likely put your trainers on and go to the gym.
This is simply because your desire NOT to be seen as a failure is stronger than your desire to remain comfortable. Even though you are not being watched right there and then, your results are being monitored. In order to preserve your reputation as the kind of person who does what they say they are going to do, you bloody well have to do it!
Do this — get rid of your damn couch!
Okay, I’m just kidding!* When you feel conflicted, remind yourself that you have integrity and you are the kind of person who takes pride in actually doing what you say you are going to do. Imagine the joy that you will feel when your progress starts to shine through.
3. You can enlist an accountability partner and keep each other moving forward
If you tell lots friends, family members and workmates what your goals are, then the chances are that someone will be working towards the same thing as you, and you can be each other’s accountability partners.
Accountability partners are the holy grail of accountability and this is one reason why groups like Weight Watchers and Slimming World work so well. Instead of people who merely enquire about your progress, you have another person who is working towards the same goal as you. This means that you know exactly what the other person is going through so you can share the pain and the gains.
When you are flagging, your partner can push you along. When they are falling behind, you pull them up. You hold each other to a higher standard than you would do if you were just by yourself. You’re each other’s cheerleaders and each other’s competition. This G.O.A.L is not just about you anymore!
Do this — enlist an accountability partner. The ideal situation would be if they live near you, so it is convenient to work on your goals together at the same time and in the same space. But even if your partner does not live near you, you can still message or phone each other for support. You can also send each other daily pics of your progress. E.g. your sweaty face after your workout, or a picture of what your scales say when you step on them each morning.
So there you have it. Three reasons explaining why you need to tell people about your goals, and three practical steps which you can take to make yourself more accountable today. But what is that I hear you say?
“Alison I am indeed sold on this idea of accountability, and I know what I can do now thanks to your excellent blog post. But tell me, how do I start telling people about my goal? I’m not sure how to bring it up in conversation.”
Well, of course, you can just start talking about goals in general. After the small talk and office gossip, and TV series and holiday chat have finished, simply ask your conversation partner if they have set any goals for the year. Is there is anything they are working on, or anything recently that they have done that they are proud of?
You can also get your goal printed onto your coffee mug, and then let the mug do the talking for you! At whattamug! we will custom print your personal goal onto a mug, then all you have to do is use it in front of people. It is a guaranteed goal conversation starter and of course the ultimate accountability reminder.
*Or am I? I really think that so many of problems stem from the comfortableness of my couch. It is a recliner and everything.