Problems vs. Solutions: breaking promises

One of my responsibilities as a coach is to provide my clients with external accountability.

  • You want to get 10 new clients this quarter? What will you do to make that happen and when will you do it?
  • You want to develop a new online course as a service offering? What are the milestones and when will you reach them?
  • You want to leave your corporate job and go out on your own? What are the steps to make that happen and when will you take them?

Accountability is taking responsibility for the results you want in your life.

Of course, true accountability can only come from within.

I can’t force Fran to network to get those 10 new clients or make Nancy sit down to write her business plan. At the end of the day, Fran and Nancy will have to decide how invested they are in their goals—and take action or not.

That being said, we can all use a little external accountability. And by that I mean someone we say our goals aloud to, share our plan for achieving them, and commit to specific actions and timeframes.

This outside accountability is so important because we break promises to ourselves all the time—but are more likely to keep our word to others. While this scenario isn’t ideal (why not keep the promises we make to ourselves?), you can use this tendency to your own benefit.

So how do you get outside accountability? It’s possible even if you don’t have a coach.

Here are 8 ways to to be more accountable.

  1. Be clear about what you’re trying to accomplish. Accountability—both internal and external—is difficult if you aren’t specific about your goal, the necessary steps to accomplish it, and the timeframe for completion.
  2. Get an accountability buddy. Partner with a friend who also has a goal she’s trying to achieve. Commit to offering each other support, including holding each other accountable for forward progress.
  3. Don’t keep your goal a secret. Sharing with others is a way to reinforce what you’re trying to achieve—making it more concrete and likely you’ll stay committed.
  4. Ask a friend for weekly check-ins. Agree upfront what the check-in will entail. Are you simply giving a progress report? What are the “rules of engagement” if your progress has stalled? What do you expect from your friend in terms of feedback, constructive criticism, cheerleading, etc.?
  5. Download an app. Lots of apps are available to track your goals and reinforce motivation. You might try GoalsOnTrack, which allows you to record the goal, start date, end date, metrics, subgoals, habits, and action plans. Or Strides, with its beautiful charts to help you achieve your goals.
  6. Start a blog. The public accountability of a blog is powerful. Trying to pay off $20K in debt? Start a blog and share your journey. Planning to launch a business in 90 days with less than $1K? Blog about it for added accountability and motivation.
  7. Post on social media. Perhaps a blog devoted to your goal is overkill. In that case, posting daily or weekly on social media about your journey and progress can help hold you accountable. Commit to a regular posting schedule and stick with it.
  8. Seek feedback. Soliciting feedback—when you’re on track or off—is a powerful accountability strategy. Ask a trusted friend or colleague these questions: How do you think I’m doing? How can I accelerate my progress? Here’s where I’m stuck; can we brainstorm my way forward?

How will you be accountable for the results you want in your life?