As a leadership development consultant, I listen to goals all day long. There are the work goals, like wanting to read more leadership books or develop a personal brand. Then there are the personal goals—giving up chips, breaking that sweet tea addiction, or practicing piano for 15 minutes per day.
When I hear someone’s goal, one of the first things I ask is: “Do you want me to hold you accountable for that?” When someone says yes (and most people do), I follow up with them during our next coaching meeting and continue following up in future meetings until they meet that goal.
For most people, just knowing I’m going to check in is all the encouragement needed to make progress towards their goal. When they take their intentions out of the isolation of their own mind and share them with a supportive coach or friend, they have set the stage for success. They are on the road to accomplishing their goal instead of just daydreaming about it.
I harnessed the power of people when I asked for accountability to start a budget. I had struggled for years to maintain a budget and take the time to do it on a weekly basis. I would generally start the process, promptly get overwhelmed, and fall off the wagon after just a few short days.
So, I challenged myself to ask for some good old accountability. I asked my fellow coach Joshua Cole to hold me accountable. For good measure, I also committed the goal to my husband and a close friend. Then, I began the budget and kept at it. I checked in with my people regularly and just knowing they were supporting me and invested in my progress made it easier to stick with it. The first month was brutal with lots of changes to our spending habits and tedious tracking as I figured out the best system, but after making it through the month, it became ingrained as a habit. Today, reconciling my budget is as seamless as checking my email or text messages on a daily basis. It was the encouragement and accountability of a few key people that pushed me towards that goal.
What goals do you have floating around in your head? Maybe it’s listening to more podcasts, waking up earlier, or starting the Whole30. Whatever it is, consider using the power of encouragement, accountability, and plain old social pressure to help you grow. Text or email a friend with a specific, measurable goal (“I will not drink any energy drinks this week.”) Let them know the expectations (“Please follow up with me during the week to keep me accountable”). Even better, text or tell multiple people.
Pick people you trust, tell them your specific goal, and then get ready for the sometimes embarrassing, sometimes annoying, but ultimately loving gift of accountability!
If your experience is anything like mine, your friends may just have some goals of their own to share, and they’ll appreciate your vulnerability and willingness to ask for support. It will open the door for them to do the same.
When you ask someone—be it your leadership coach, your aunt, or your friend—to hold you accountable, you are taking a critical step towards meeting that goal. Instead of trying to change all by yourself, harness the power of community.