Get Sh!t Done: How to Hold Yourself Accountable
4 Minute Read
Ahh, the feeling of setting new goals. It’s exciting. You’ve planned exactly what this year is going to look like, both personally and professionally. Your company is expecting big things this year. You’re probably feeling headstrong and ready to take on the world. You have no doubt that all of this can get accomplished. You’re ready to do this!
Fast-forward three months. You’ve struggled to stay consistent with your goals. We know. Life gets in the way, schedules change, and suddenly you have gotten really busy. You’re behind, you might have procrastinated just a little, and you didn’t do everything you said you were going to do this quarter. Now you’re off track and mad at yourself for not being more accountable. Sound familiar? We’ve all been there.
Maybe you already know how to hold yourself accountable, but just didn’t follow through. You started with the same process yet somehow, year after year, you still manage to fall behind. This could be because you overextended yourself, or it could be that your process isn’t working. You know what they say about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? Insanity! Here is how you stay committed to your goal and ensure personal accountability.
How to Hold Yourself Accountable:
Know your why. Your why may be the most important step in holding yourself accountable. If you don’t have a compelling enough reason for a goal being important, chances are that this will be the first thing that you put off, and the last thing that you accomplish, if you accomplish it at all. Find your why (or reason) behind every goal.
Write it down. It’s hard to hold yourself accountable for anything if you haven’t written it down. Be clear about what you’re going to do and what you’re not going to do. And make sure you specify a target date. It’s much easier to see what’s on your plate when you have it laid out in front of you.
The beauty of having milestones is that it not only helps you take bite-sized pieces of the pie, but it also gives you something to celebrate.
Set milestones (mini-goals) and create a schedule. You can do this using whatever planning system works for you. A lot of times, we set one giant goal and just hope we reach it. By creating milestones, you’re giving yourself action steps. For instance, if your goal is to lose 15 pounds in 3 months, your milestone could be to lose 5 pounds in one month, or work out for 30 minutes at least 4 times a week. Then, actually schedule time to work on those goals.
Celebrate accomplishments and milestones. The beauty of having milestones is that it not only helps you take bite-sized pieces of the pie, but it also gives you something to celebrate. When we have a big hairy goal and never seem to reach it, it can be demotivating, leading to wasted time and procrastination.
Know the signs of procrastination. The thing we say we won’t do, but somehow we always do it. You have to recognize when you’re procrastinating and ask yourself, “Why did I waste time?” Procrastination happens for a lot of reasons. But the moment you start justifying your actions is the moment you’re setting yourself up for failure. Some surefire signs that you’re procrastinating are:
- You’re doing non-essential work instead of what needs to get done.
- You say things like, “One more episode will really help me relax.”
- You’re chronically late, or often a bottleneck on projects.
- You can’t remember why your goal was important in the first place.
- You find yourself on social media or chatting with others more often than you used to.
- Your list keeps growing, and nothing is getting checked off.
How to Hold Yourself Accountable: the moment you start justifying your actions is the moment you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Regularly review your performance. This is key to holding yourself accountable. You must be candid with yourself and ask, “How well did I follow my plan this week?” At the end of every week, look back and make a list of what you accomplished. Or if you’re a checklist person, check off what you wrote down in the beginning. Then, give yourself a grade.
Seek feedback. Yep, that means you’re going to have to share your goals with someone. Find somebody who is already good at the thing you’re trying to accomplish and tell them your goal. Whether that is a mentor, a subject matter expert, a boss, or a colleague, these people are more likely to give you honest and direct feedback. Let them know what you’re working on and seek feedback on those behaviors. Sometimes, hearing how you did from someone else can help keep you on track.
Really, this is simple stuff. But we all fall short sometimes. That’s the beauty of being human. We can get back up and work even harder the next time. Time to get sh!t done.