How to Hold Yourself Accountable to Your Goals
So you set your goals... now what?! It’s not enough to just set them, you have to create a plan and hold yourself accountable so that you actually achieve them.
You see, a lot of people set new year resolutions each year. And I’m going to bet that you’ve done it a time or two. But do you know how many people actually achieve those goals or follow through on those resolutions?
And that’s not surprising.
When people set these resolutions they are typically trying to combat something that exists on a subconscious level. So let’s say you want to lose weight and your resolution is to start taking care of yourself.
Well if you’ve never done that before, if it’s never been a part of who you are, then creating this new habit is going to be hard to form! And it’s going to take time and routine to make it into the person you are or essentially the person you want to become.
Does that make sense?
So just writing out your goals or writing out your resolutions isn’t going to work! You have to get down to the core level of who you are and question what it’s really going to take to achieve that goal.
In this post, we’re going to talk about a lot. And it’s not just going to be able holding yourself accountable. Although that will be included, of course. But we’ll also talk about setting goals, what it takes to achieve goals, the steps create a plan to achieve them, and if you need to reprogram your mind to get the job done.
So without any further ado (I feel pretty fancy saying that), let’s get into this!
What exactly are goals?
But I have another way of explaining it that might be helpful to you.
Let’s look at my famous example of starting a blog.
Would you say that “start a blog by (date)” is a goal?
Would you say that “launch a product” is a goal?
And would you say that “hire an assistant” is a goal?
If you said yes to any of those, then you’re wrong. Those are all actually projects! So let me explain.
A project is something that you have direct control over. It is a yes or a no whether that task gets completed. And for those 3 examples above, you have direct control. You get to decide if you actually start a blog, launch a product, or hire an assistant. It’s completely in your control.
But a goal is out of your control. Almost completely!
A goal would be to “start a blog that generates 200 quality leads a month”.
A goal would be to “launch a paid product to improve sales by 20%”.
A goal would be to “hire an assistant to reduce time spend on low-level tasks to 2 hours a week”. (Psssst. That’s one of my goals)
So do you see the difference there? These goals aren’t just a yes or no whether they get done. Actually, it’s pretty unknown whether you achieve them or not.
But that’s exactly why you have to create a plan and complete the appropriate tasks! Once you do that, you’ll goals will be easy-peasy.
Now let’s move into the fun stuff.
How to set reasonable (yet big) goals
It’s common for women to set lower goals for themselves compared to men. Maybe it’s just because we are more realistic! But it probably has something to do with the fact that men tend to be more outwardly confident compared to women.
So if you’re a boss babe like me, setting goals may be hard for you. And I mean hard in the sense of pushing yourself to new limits!
When it comes to setting goals, you need to be reasonable while also challenging yourself. You don’t want to set a goal that you can achieve in 2 days. What’s the fun in that?!
You need something that you can work toward over the next 90 days or so. The timeline is really up to you.
So how do you set those goals, you ask?
1. Do the research and validate the goal
Before you can set your goals, you need to know where you are coming from. So look at what you’ve done in the past and what’s important for you to do in the future to get where you ultimately want to be in 3 to 5 years.
Then, do the research!
Let’s say you really want to build your influence online. So you set a goal to get 100k Instagram followers. (That’s out of your direct control, so yes this is a goal.)
The first thing you need to find out is if this goal is even valid. Is it possible to reach 100k followers on Instagram? Well of course it is. Several people have done it to prove it!
What does it take to reach that many followers? What would your account have to look like? What type of content do you have to provide? Are there any tactics you would have to learn to reach this number?
You also need to think about if this goal is really important. If you want to build your influence online, maybe Instagram actually isn’t the right platform for your audience! You may think it’s important, but after research, you discover that your audience is actually on YouTube.
There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to setting goals. And you don’t want them to be shots in the dark! So make sure you do the appropriate research first to validate the goal.
2. Know your timeframe
You never want to set an open-ended goal. Meaning that you want to make 500k in income just whenever you can. No rush. It will happen when it happens.
If you set goals like that, then you’ll never reach the level of success that you’re dreaming about, my friend!
You need to set a timeline. I recommend setting quarterly goals and yearly goals.
Your yearly goals can be big! And they should be big because they will take a whole year to achieve. But your quarterly goals should be goals that you can accomplish in 90 days.
Quarterly goals are my favorite because they help to keep you focused (and accountable) to your yearly goals! You have something to focus on every 90 days and something to achieve. This provides you with a purpose and makes you a person on a mission! And I gotta say, I love those kinds of people.
So think about what date range you want to set for your goals.
Hint hint: I recommend 90 days over anything else!
3. Does it scare you?
Your goals should scare you. They really should. If your goals don’t scare you and you think they are easy to achieve, then you’re setting your goals way wrong!
The point of setting goals is to dream big for yourself. To have something in place that you are working. To give you a real purpose!
And without goals, how can you expect to live up to your fullest potential?!
So yes. Your goals should scare you. They should force you to step outside of your comfort zone. To learn something new. To achieve something big.
If you ever look at your goals and just think “Okay, well let’s do this”, then you’re doing it wrong.
Creating a plan to achieve your goals
Holding yourself accountable is great and everything, but you really need a plan in place so that you have something you know is going to help to get to where you need to go. Does that make sense?
Todd Herman says it best: “Goals create accountability while projects create confidence.”
So you need goals to hold yourself accountable to your wildest dreams. But you need projects to establish confidence and ensure that the goal is actually achieved!
So let’s learn how to create an appropriate plan that’s jammed packed with projects.
1. Make sure you know the outcome goal
This should be pretty easy. And you may be thinking “duh” in your head right now. But for some people, they just create tasks without thinking about what goal it’s actually going to impact.
I’ve been there! So no judgment here! I spent over a month working on the design on my website with no real goal in place. And then once it was done, it felt like I was just wasting my time and my blog wasn’t growing. So what the heck was the point anyway?!
End of story: make sure that you always know your goal that you are working toward with each project so that you aren’t just spinning your wheels.
2. Break it down into little details
For every goal, there are a lot of projects you have to complete! And some may have more projects than others. But the more you break it, the more you’ll realize that all goals are the same. And that they all have a lot of projects.
My recommendation is to break it down into the big projects first.
So let’s go back to the goal of starting a blog that generates 200 quality leads a month. Some projects may be:
- Establish blog branding
- Design a website
- Create content for 7 pages
- Write 10 blog posts
- Design template for social media graphics
And the list could go on and on and on! But take a look at “Establish blog branding” for example. It’s a lot easier said than done. You need to…
- Determine the name of your blog
- Design the logo
- Pick a general font
- Pick a color scheme
- Decide on an Instagram theme
And again… the list goes on and on.
So yeah, there is a lot of work that you need to do! So try and break it down into big projects and then little tasks.
3. Determine the importance of each task
You’ll notice that some projects are more important than others. It may not be beneficial to spend 3 hours focused on whether your logo should be a little bit more spaced or positioned to the right. No one will notice the difference anyway!
And that’s an important lesson to learn: no one really cares.
So make sure that you determine the importance of each task and then lay them out accordingly! You might be able to launch your blog before you have your social media graphics completely figured out. And that’s fine!
Do the important tasks first, see what you can push off until later, and get what you need to get done… DONE!
4. Create a schedule
So you’ve got all your tasks. But here’s where accountability comes into play again. If you aren’t that good at sticking to your goals, then you might notice the same thing happens when you have projects you need to get done. No matter what you push them off. And you waste time on things that get you no where.
So to take it a step further, you need to create a schedule!
Think about when each task has to get done by. Create a timeline. And make it non-negotiable.
These projects will be completed by (date) or I’ll stay up all night to get it completed. That’s the only choice I have!
Write it out. Keep it in front of you. And just listen to it, okay?!
5. Block the time to get it done!
Now if you’re still thinking that this plan is not enough to force you to get the job done. Here’s what you need to do.
You need to actually block the time to get it done! That means putting it on your calendar, telling the whole world you’re busy, turning off your phone, and getting the work done! It’s that easy!
But again, this has to be non-negotiable. You need to do it.
If you don’t block the time, you’ll probably push the task off forever. And if you do block the time but you don’t like to listen to anyone (including yourself), then the problem is actually something bigger.
The problem is you.
What happens when you are the only one in your way
For so long, I’ve always been tripping over myself to get where I want to go. Constantly tripping!
Because my conscious self wants so many big things. I’ve got crazy dreams! And I really want to achieve them. I’m willing to put in the work. But every time I get one step closer, my subconscious self kicks me down and tries to put me in my place.
The thing is, we all have this “ego”. And it’s talked about in a variety of different ways. But your “ego” essentially tries to protect you. It tries to keep you in your comfort zone and tries to talk you out of scary things. It will hold you back. And it could possibly ruin your life if you let it.
It’s good to have an ego. I like to think that it keeps you sane and reasonable at times. But it’s also important to know when you kick him to the curb and take control of your own life.
I’ve had several run-ins with my ego. Way too many. And most of the time it brings up terrible subconscious beliefs that I didn’t even know I had. All of which come from your childhood and experiences in life, if ya didn’t know!
To make this easier for you, let’s take a look at a real-life example.
Growing up, we didn’t eat that many veggies. And we didn’t eat that healthy in general. I hated salad, so my mom didn’t force me to eat it. I hated eggs, so I didn’t eat those as well. Most meals were heavy with meat, pasta, and potatoes. And boy do I love potatoes.
But now picture this. Over the last few years, I’ve really struggled with my weight.
Is that really surprising? NO! Of course not! Because growing up, I never learned how to eat healthily. And for most of my life I was a swimmer so I could get away with it. But now that I’m living on my own, with no sports involved, I continuously struggle with eating healthy.
And I’m going to guess that it’s something that I’m going to struggle with for the rest of my life unless I actually change who I am on a subconscious level.
Now don’t take this like you’re doomed. Because there is a way to change yourself to achieve the goals and the life that you want to live. But you have to break down what’s in your subconscious and create new habits that align with your goals.
I recommend looking up Jim Fortin! Or listen to the Pursuit with Purpose podcast episode that features him. You’ll learn more about how to reprogram your mind then I could ever give you in one blog post.
Oh, and it might be important for you to take the Four Tendencies quiz. This will help you to better understand why you act the way you act when you have outer and inner expectations.
Tips to hold yourself accountable to your goals
It took us long enough to get here. To get to the stuff that talks about the title of the blog post. But if you scrolled down just to read this section, then I want you to stop. Because everything I’m about to tell you only works if you listened to what I said above.
So let’s get into this.
1. Place reminders on your calendar
This is the easiest thing you can do. Just put reminders on your calendar when you are going to work on stuff and when stuff is due.
But the most important part of this tip is that you have to stick to it. No matter what! And that’s where tip #2 comes into play.
2. Make a deal with yourself that you can’t break
Sometimes, no matter how much you tell yourself you need to get something done, you just don’t listen! So you need to add a little pressure.
Make a deal with yourself. Actually, let’s take it up a notch. Create a contract for yourself. And if you don’t do what you say you’re going to do to achieve your goals then you have to do something you don’t want to do.
But here’s the important thing: you need to make it something that’s also positive. So my favorite example to give is that you’ll donate a large amount of money to a charity that you don’t support.
The amount can be completely up to you! Maybe it’s $1,000 or maybe it’s $50. But by donating money, you end up doing some good while “punishing” yourself in a sense.
The punishment you set is completely up to you! That’s just my recommendation.
3. Use a journal
Using a journal is one of the best ways to hold yourself accountable. When you write down your tasks and have a plan in place that you can easily follow, you are more likely to get the work done.
I would recommend using a journal to track your time, your tasks, your behavior, and even your mood. You’ll start to notice when you work best and in what situations. That way you can work when you are most productive!
4. Place your goals where you’ll see them daily
I have my current goals hung on my wall with a thumbtack. And it looks ridiculous!
But do I care? Absolutely not! I plan on getting a whiteboard or something so I can place them there someday.
It’s important that you have your goals and the projects you need to complete in order to reach those goals in front of your face all the time! So that you can’t ignore them no matter what you do!
This is important. And it really could be a game changer. Keep them top of mind and place them where you’ll notice them. Whether that’s on your desk, on your wall, tattooed on your arm (no judgment here), whatever works for you is okay with me!
5. Tell the world about your goals! (or just your friends or family)
For some people, you need external forces to hold yourself accountable. You need other people to ask you how those projects are going and if they are getting done.
That doesn’t work for me, but it might work great for you!
So write a blog post about it. Tell your social media following. Tell the person you’re living with. Even tell all of your friends and family! Whoever you need to tell, tell them.
I like this option because I believe when you voice your goals, you actually throw them out into the Universe. You are more likely to manifest the future that you want. So if you’re spiritual in that sense, this is a big plus to telling the world your goals too.
6. Have a goal tracker
We like to see progress, don’t we? We want to know that we are actually getting closer to our goals. And once we see progress, then we work even harder! It’s just how our brain works!
So create a goal tracker that you can fill out! This could be in your journal or on your wall. It may take some time to fill out that tracker and inch closer to your goals. But it’s great to see progress. Even if it’s just a little bit.
7. Find an accountability partner or group
This is the big one! And it’s something everyone should do…
Find an accountability partner or group!
I never used to believe in these. I honestly thought it was silly to have someone help me to stay accountable. But it’s really a healthy push in the butt when you need it.
I am a part of a Facebook group that is mainly used for accountability. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday there are check-in posts. And if you start to participate in these threads, then you’ll get called out to see how you are performing with the tasks you said you were going to complete.
If you are someone that needs some outside encouragement or support to get work done, then this is the option for you!
Wrapping it up
Now I’m sure there are several other tips out there that I could give you. But I wanted to include things that I actually do to hold myself accountable to my goals.
If you have other recommendations that work wonders for you, make sure you leave a comment in the section down below!
And I’ll see you back here next week for another blog post.
Cathrin (Cath) creates content that encourages bloggers & online entrepreneurs to be themselves, chase their passion, and create their success online. 1 year after started her blog (TheContentBug.com), Cath left her full-time position working in the digital marketing industry to pursue her dreams of being her own boss. In weekly blog posts, sporadic YouTube videos, and constant talking on Instagram stories, Cath hopes to spread her story and be an inspiration to others who desperately want to change their lives.