We are so quick to do the things other people ask us, but when it comes to the things we’d like to get done for ourselves, we just can’t get them done.
Your boss tells you to have that project done in a week, and 7 days later, it’s on her desk.
Yet that idea you told yourself you’d execute last month?
You haven’t even started!
It’s not that you don’t care about it—you do.
The problem here is lack of accountability.
If you don’t get that project done within the deadline, you’ll be answering to your boss. You’ll stand in front of her with a downcast head as she chastises your negligence.
But who are you answering to when it comes to your own goals?
You are responsible for those goals. If you don’t do it, you won’t get punished. You go easy on yourself. You give yourself another chance and another and then one more.
You accept the same excuses over and over again, and you achieve nothing.
In other words, by being accountable you take control of your life—actions, outcomes, and all.
How to Hold Yourself Accountable
1. Create Mini-Goals and Milestones
With no one holding you accountable, it’s easy to get sidetracked. You can think you’re making progress when, in reality, you’re really just wasting time.
Being accountable means you direct your progress and ensure that you’re doing the important work.
What’s the best way to do that?
Set mini-goals and milestones.
Mini-goals are small goals to aim for. If you want to self-publish a book, you’re mini-goal would be to finish your first draft.
Milestones, on the other hand, are points you are bound to cross when you’re working toward those mini-goals. Milestones are important because they tell you whether or not you’re headed in the right direction.
Back to the self-published book example, your milestone would be to write the first 5 chapters.
You can design the cover, re-plot the story, or whatever else you want to waste time on, but unless those 5 chapters get written, you’re going to have to admit to yourself that you’re not doing what you should be.
2. Track and Review Your Progress Frequently
If you’re not checking in on yourself, you won’t realize how behind you are until it’s too late.
Tracking your progress is imperative to keeping yourself accountable.
You need to know what you’re doing, what you’re not, and whether or not you’re on the path toward your goals.
I use the Habit Tracker 2.0 and Goal Tracker 2.0 to keep my tasks and progress organized.
At the end of each day, I review what I’ve accomplished and what I should get to the next.
3. Set Deadlines
Setting deadlines and putting them on your calendar gives you a sense of urgency. Your deadlines hover over you like a cloud, constantly reminding you of the work you need to get done.
Your deadlines keep you accountable by pushing you to do the work that you would have otherwise procrastinated.
Without a deadline, you can fool yourself and make excuses, telling yourself you’ll do it another day. With a deadline, you’re forced to make a schedule to make your goal happen.
4. Reward Yourself
Being accountable means reprimanding yourself when you’re not doing your best, but it also means you reward your achievements, as well.
Rewarding yourself gives you a sense of accomplishment and renews your motivation, especially for work where there aren’t immediate benefits.
5. Find an Accountability Buddy—Or Substitute With An Accountability Tool
If you have a friend that will help you stay accountable, that’s great. But truthfully, not everyone has someone like that.
For those of you who don’t, here are two websites you can use to keep you accountable:
Focus Mate is a free website that connects you up with a focus partner. You choose a time block when you want to focus on achieving your goal, and then you and your partner work in silence.
If you don’t show up to your coworking session, you’ll partner will report you, your attendance score goes down, and your account may be frozen.
Stickk keeps you accountable by putting your money on the line.
You set a goal and then choose the amount of money you’ll donate if you don’t reach your goal by the deadline.
Stickk encourages you to choose a charity you hate, so you won’t feel good about donating to a cause if you don’t achieve your goal.
If you’re not accountable, you won’t be able to do your best. You’ll allow circumstances to get the best of you, and your dream life will forever be a fantasy.
Take control of your life today. Start doing your best work. Live the life you’ve dreamed of.