It’s easier to meet goals when other people are expecting something from us – our boss, our work team, customers, family. We don’t want to let them down.
But when our goals are personal, it can be more difficult to get traction. We might put off personal goals because we think they only matter to us.
Implementing this simple three-step process can help.
One: Buddy Up!
Find an accountability buddy. Your buddy is someone who has their own goal to accomplish. They will commit to holding you accountable and vice versa.
You both agree to scheduled check-ins and complete honesty about your progress, or your lack of progress.
There will be times when you don’t make progress. After all, the whole reason you need a buddy is because you’ve been struggling to meet this goal on your own.
Your ideal buddy is a person who can distinguish between a true obstacle and an excuse. They don’t let you off the hook. They’re not afraid to call you on your sh**!
But that’s not enough. This is a person who is willing to help you explore what’s behind the excuses. They help you examine the challenges and obstacles in your way.
There is learning and self-awareness behind every little failure. Talk about it.
You didn’t meet this week’s goal because it was cloudy all week, and cloudy days always get you down? – EXCUSE!
What’s really going on? Are you afraid of failing? Of looking foolish? Do you not know where to start? Do you need help breaking an old pattern or habit?
Good buddies are firm, but kind. They provide encouragement as well as expectations. They help you recommit and try again.
Two: Define Your Goal.
Be very clear and specific about what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Write it down. Share the details with your buddy so that they fully understand your goal.
Stephen Covey’s Habit #2 applies here: Begin with the end in mind.
What does the end product look like? If you don’t know, how will you know when you’re done?
Getting clarity around your goal isn’t always easy. Sometimes it takes some digging to truly get to the heart of what you want to accomplish or change. Your buddy can help with this, too.
You may think your goal is to change employers. Why? You dread going to work. Why? You’re bored and don’t feel challenged. Why? Because you’ve been doing project management for ten years. You could do it in your sleep!
Aha! So maybe the real goal is to find a new assignment, to pivot your career, to take your project management skills into another area, such as product development or operations.
It’s okay to adjust your goal, adding to or subtracting from it. Don’t be too rigid. Allow your goal to morph into something else, if appropriate. You may have found the goal beneath the goal. Be open to discovery.
Your initial goal may be to clean out the garage so that you can actually park the car in there! (A foreign concept to many people.) Along the way you may discover that you need a separate shed for your lawn and garden equipment. Maybe you need to sell the motorcycle you no longer ride. These become sub-tasks that support the larger goal. And they may add expenses, tasks, and time.
Set attainable goals. Big projects may take months. Breaking them down into smaller goals will keep you moving forward.
Your buddy can help you size your goal appropriately: think bigger or smaller, go faster, or slow down.
Three: Celebrate along the way.
Don’t wait until the end to celebrate. Celebrations usually mark some kind of milestone: birthdays, anniversaries, weddings. And they often incorporate rituals and gifts.
Recognizing your progress will motivate you to keep going. Finding a tangible reward can help.
My buddy and I have agreed to pay ourselves $20 dollars (the gift) each time we meet an incremental goal. Each time the goal is met we must go to an ATM and take out exactly $20 dollars (the ritual). We save the money in a glass jar to keep it visible.
Another reward will be to treat ourselves with the money we’ve earned. I haven’t decided what I’ll do with my earnings, but I have $120.00 already. My jar sits by my computer monitor, a constant reminder of the progress I’ve made so far.
My buddy plans to spend her earnings on yoga classes. Engaging in yoga will connect her with a new community of like-minded people who have similar healthy living goals. A happy consequence of the initial goal! A ripple effect.
Personal goals often have ripple effects. For example: Reaching your goal weight can result in more confidence, increased energy, better sleep, improved health, even getting off medications. These can lead to becoming more social, meeting new people, engaging in activities with your children.
Call To Action:
Identify a personal goal that you’re struggling to meet. Find a buddy who will agree to hold you accountable. Identify incremental rewards.
Now share your intentions here! Sharing our goals encourages us to commit. Good luck!