Keeping Accountable to Your Goals

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It is official; we are halfway through 2012.  This is a great time to reflect on where you thought you would be by this point of the year, given your hopes & aspirations that you set forth for your business, your finances, and yourself in January.  Consider this blog a check in that gives you the chance to congratulate yourself for your triumphs so far, or lights a fire to get cracking on taking the first or next step toward your goals that you thought were important to you a few months ago. 

For those who say, “I don’t make resolutions,” I say bull-phooey. We all have things that we want to do, no matter how big or small, but some people work best when they state them for the world, which just may not be your style.  I have never met one human being in my 28 years of working with people, who sincerely did not want to make any change – drink more water, more time with family, travel, organize something, etc…   The inability to dream, plan, & improve, is called, “death,” and if you are reading this blog, then I don’t believe you fit into that category, so let’s get going.

Know Your Style:   One of my goals for 2012 was to start a Money Club for women.  July 1st was the last day of the club for this year, and everyone is now equipped with much knowledge and motivation to keep saving and thriving until next January’s start up.   The Money Club taught me a lot about people’s personalities when it comes to goal setting.  Much of this information was clear from having staff for many years, but the Money Club was different, as the members did not work for me or have to show up for any other reason than for themselves.  

There are the planners, non-planners, the wanna-be planners, and those who make every excuse possible as to why they cannot commit to making a goal that will better their lives.  The way that a person reacts to a challenge is hard wired – ‘it is what it is.’  The problem for many people is that the way the world works, is generally geared towards one style of learning, processing, and achieving.  If one doesn’t fit into that achieve mold, then they often feel shut down, making the idea of planning or goal setting an overwhelming idea, yet, they still have a desire to grow and change.  People who do fit into the achieve mold, can often end up feeling that they are not good enough as there always seems to be more to achieve than they can handle.  Neither of these scenarios bode well for generating much excitement about achieving goals. 

Know what type of goal setter & planner that you are, along with acknowledging all of your internal objections to making a goal happen.  The three major fears in making a change are the fear of failure, fear of the unknown, & fear of what others will think of you.  Until you truly know yourself, in these respects, you may never achieve your goal as you may simply be trying to achieve it in ways that don’t work for you or may not even want the goal to happen, if truth be told.   You need to tailor the goal setting process to work with the way you work.  

Know What You Want:  You have to know what you want.  If you want what others have, are not really passionate about something, or are guessing as to what society or others want you to do, then stop, arret, quit, do not go further.  Passion creates a desire to make a change and live a better life.  Passion is the child of hunger and often pain (emotional or physical) to truly drive you to make a change.  Humans are complacent animals who are rarely motivated to move forward when they are “okay,” where they are – it is not great, but it is okay.  Why? Because the “okay,” position is a sure thing – they have it and therefore have taken out the possibility of failure or a worse outcome, but also the possibility of a better one.  You need to know exactly why you – no one else – wants the goal you are setting for yourself.  You’re the one who will work very hard to achieve it, so know the reason.  You may need this clear reason to get you through particularly tough times where you want to give up. 

Break It Down:  Every major goal needs to be broken down into three parts, ideally, to make it more easily digestible.  Each of those three parts should be broken further into steps that you take within a certain time frame.   An important part of achieving a goal is being held accountable along the way.  You need an accountability buddy who you will check in with along the path toward achieving your goal.  You can do the same for them, regardless of whether their goal is similar to yours or not. This person is best to be someone who you do not live with, and should be someone that you respect and admire.  You will not want to let down someone such as this. If there are three major parts to your goal, then set up three meetings to check in and create a deadline to accomplish these things.  Meet up on your check-in date to review what your goal is, overall, the potion of that goal you wanted to achieve by that day, whether or not you have achieved what you said you would, and if not, then what steps you have taken toward it.  If you achieved everything with ease, ask yourself it was too easy.  One type of person takes on too much, while another type of person takes on too little so that they know they will never fail or be too challenged. You want to get the balance between these right for you. If your goal will take you the year, then it is even more important to stay on track with these meetings because every step you fail to take today has a big impact over a year long goal.  You REAAAAAALLLLY want this, remember?

Failure to Launch:  For those who don’t take any steps toward a goal they create, I ask how important that goal really was, given that you did not take the steps to accomplish it.   If you really, truly want to achieve that goal, then it is time to be honest with yourself, get a new game plan, and maybe a new Accountability Buddy in order to make it happen.  Something broke down to create a failure to take even one step forward, so you need to carve out some time in your day to examine how you are sabotaging your own success.  No one else is to blame.  See what you come up with.  The time frame might have been unrealistic, you might need help in achieving it, and if that is the case, then figure out who you need on your team. You might have got sidetracked with other things for other people that seemed dire and important, but were they?  How much of an excuse is that?    Once you assess this, define the goal again, given this new information, and then start the process of breaking it down into steps.  One of the best gifts we can give ourselves is the gift of “cut the crap,” to see how much we try to fool ourselves into believing that one, some, or all excuses are legitimate enough to not work on our goal.  If fooling yourself is what you do, then it could be that you should concentrate on getting happy with what you have, as part of you is refusing to budge from that safe place.

Realistic Time Frames:  Make sure that you are realistic about the time each step will take you.  Examine what a goal is comprised of, and then figure out the realistic amount of time that each step will take, given your life’s other responsibilities like work and family.  For example, let’s take a common ‘To Do’ list item like, “vacuum the house.”   By the time you have picked up the toys and such from the floor, put shoes that have piled up at the doors back into closets, shake out mats, put away the bike helmets and dog leashes that were dropped at the door, and put away all other things that were temporarily kept on the floor, 30-45 minutes has passed, and we still haven’t started the vacuum.  That is if we don’t get side tracked by cleaning the kitchen or  … writing a blog. Factor in how easily distracted you are, who you can delegate other things to, and what type of support system you have.

Happiness Is:  Given these tools, anyone can achieve the goals they set out for themselves in a realistic manner that will provide the final result.  What is important is to enjoy the journey.  If you aren’t having fun, then why do it?  The final outcome will certainly not make you happy if you don’t live happiness already.  To lose 50 pounds won’t make you a happy person, it will simply make you 50 pounds lighter.  To save $5000 won’t make you happy, it will simply make you $5000 richer.   There are certainly positive outcomes from these things, such as freedom, choice, and some feel-good vibes, but if you hated the journey to get there, you will likely fail to keep it up.   Working toward your goal includes feeling proud of your choice to make a change as well as acknowledging people and things you are thankful for along the way.  That outta round out the hard work that anything worthwhile will always require.  

Go for it. 

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