Cultivating Accountability

January 16, 2017 Monday Morning Wake Up Tips

In The Ultimate Guide to 2017: Envisioning an Awesome Year, we guide individuals through a seven step goal-setting process. Each step builds on the previous one, and the process culminates with creating and then implementing an accountability plan. Putting your goals in writing is one step toward accountability, but what really seals the deal is a clearly defined plan that you design to hold yourself accountable throughout the year.

Most people set goals and even write them down but often resist holding themselves accountable. From years of working with individuals, I think everyone struggles with accountability to some extent. It all comes down to what is driving our resistance to being accountable and if the pay-off for being accountable is compelling enough for us to overcome that resistance. For me, in the past I’ve rationalized that it’s so much easier to not commit to something (a goal) or not tell others my goals. That way, if I don’t achieve them, I won’t be embarrassed or I won’t disappoint others if they were counting on me to achieve those goals. That rationalization comes down to avoiding conflict, which has been my life-long strategy to stay safe and keep the world harmonious around me. But what I have learned, often the hard way, is that when I don’t hold myself accountable and achieve my goals, the only person who really is impacted, disappointed, and left living a more reactive rather than a more intentional and fulfilling life is me.

Years ago, I worked with a coach who helped me realize that I could change this behavior for myself by first identifying what I really wanted for my life. Some of Mary Anne’s questions in our goal setting guide are great ones to ask to discover what you really want. For example: What brings you joy? What have you always dreamed you wanted to do but never make time for? What do you want your legacy to be? What, if anything, feels missing (or incomplete) from living a fulfilled life?

Once I know what I want, I can then zero in on setting some goals to achieve it. As the steps indicate, identifying significant achievements (milestones) along the way gives me benchmarks to know if I am making progress toward my goals throughout the year.  But unless I develop an Accountability Plan, that is, that I’ve looked at what specific actions I will take; how I want to allocate my time, resources and energy in the new year; how I will handle resistance if it arises; and how I will keep myself motivated throughout the year, the likelihood that I will achieve my goals becomes significantly less.

Don’t leave 2017 to chance… take the extra step to secure your success by developing your 2017 Accountability Plan. I’m building mine. How about you?

By Theresa Gale,

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