What is Accountability? How to Ensure You Reach Your Goals

Got a head full of ideas? Good! Written out a laundry list of goals to help you chase them? Even better! What about an actionable plan to bring those dreams to life? No? Has procrastination struck again? I know I’ve been there. It wasn’t so long ago that I sat in my office envisioning my dream life but lacking the accountability I needed to turn that vision into reality. I wrote all the lists, set all the intentions and channelled all the optimism I could find! But it wasn’t until I started working with a coach myself that I was able to stay accountable to my action plan and actually start achieving those goals.

Your dreams are worth achieving. They’re worth putting yourself out there for, worth you trying something new, scary and unknown. I don’t want you to miss out on reaching those big goals and, since you’re here, I’m pretty sure you don’t either! So let’s find a way to keep you accountable and finally mark those goals as fulfilled.

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What is accountability?

Accountability is what enables you to translate ideas and plans into action and achievements. The Cambridge dictionary defines accountability as “being responsible for what you do”. Really, it’s all about finding what will keep you moving forwards to reach your goals.

These accountability tips will help you get going and move closer to putting that all-important checkmark alongside your goals.

Accountability Tip #1

Know your accountability style

For some people, it’s external commitments that make all the difference. For others, they need to make those promises to themselves instead. And some people just rebel against all promises! Not sure what your accountability style is? I love Gretchen Rubin’s four tendencies quiz for helping you figure out how you respond to different types of expectations (bonus: it’s also totally free to take!).

Personally, I know that external accountability doesn’t always work for me. Just booking into a gym class isn’t going to get me there. I need to have an understanding of not just what I’m doing but why I’m doing it. Which brings me onto my next accountability tip.

Accountability Tip #2

Set SMART goals

If you’re going to actually hold yourself accountable to reach your goals, they need to be SMART goals. You need to be sure that, not only are you chasing something that’s actually achievable but you’re also going to be chasing a goal that’s right for you and your dreams.

Got time for a quick story? Good! 

If we rewind back a few years, I was working for my family business. In fact, I’d been working there for a couple of decades. And I was ready for a change. I knew that I needed to try something new and shake things up a little, so I started a couple of small businesses on the side. I worked hard, put all my energy into growing these passion projects and hoped that I’d find that feeling of satisfaction that I was chasing.

Except, I didn’t.
Because they weren’t my dream. There weren’t the type of businesses I wanted to be running. That’s when I realised that setting the wrong goals can be just as dangerous as setting no goals at all. And so I fell in love with SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound goals. I’ve never looked back!

Accountability Tip #3

Write out a plan

I love intentions as much as the next person. Good intentions can get you off the couch and dreaming of what could be. Good intentions can help you find that all-important self-belief when your confidence is waning. But good intentions aren’t the same as tangible actions

Much as you may want to avoid it, you need a plan. It’s the cold hard truth!

A documented actionable plan is going to dramatically increase your chances of success. You’re going to be able to track when you’re following it, and when you’ve fallen off the wagon. And you’re going to be able to easily see what you need to do to get back on.

Sure, planning might not feel so glamorous or exciting. But results? They do.

Accountability Tip #4

Schedule a celebration

My coaching clients know that I’m big on this one. Once you’ve accomplished your goals – celebrate them!

In the last 4 months, I started my own business, figured out my business model, organised four workshops, and ticked off many of the imaginary projects in my mind.  […] Lisa gave me permission to celebrate.

Shaun Hoon
Founder of Curious Mind

I can’t tell you how many times I see business owners set courageous goals for themselves, hold themselves accountable to actually achieve those goals and then… move straight onto the next one.

It’s a tough cycle to fall into and one that’s bound to create fatigue if all you’re doing is constantly striving to do and be ‘more’. Instead, schedule some celebrations so that you know, once you’ve achieved that next goal, you’ve got something indulgent to look forward to.

Accountability Tip #5

Work with a mentor or coach

Small business life can be lonely. Even with a team by your side, you may well find that you can’t discuss your big dreams, big fears or big ideas in a safe and confidential way you’d like to.

That’s why I love business coaching so much. Not only are you getting a support system who’ll always be in your corner but you’re also getting access to an accountability partner. As well as supporting you through clarity, focus and action, your coach will check in with your progress, be your favourite cheerleader when times get tough and hold you to account when procrastination’s taken over.

Accountability Tip #6

Develop a strong mindset

If you start by telling yourself that you’re going to fail, you probably will. There’s a reason you hear so much about mindset being the key to long-term success. It’s because it is.

That doesn’t mean that you need to be overly positive all the time. You can still feel nervous, apprehensive or uncertain. But you do need to stop talking yourself down.

If you’re constantly looking for the negatives, that’s what you’re going to find. Instead, work to identify your strengths and focus on honing them instead.

Related: Struggling to get up and go? If fear’s got you paralysed, check out my free ebook with seven steps to get you closer to the life you want.

Accountability Tip #7

Remind yourself of the end goal

What’s the purpose of all this? Why is holding yourself accountable so important to you?

No journey is ever smooth. There are going to be hiccups, detours and roadblocks along the way. And it’s during those moments that you’re going to find it the hardest to stay accountable and keep yourself on track.
Those are the times when you’re going to need to remind yourself of why you’re doing it. My favourite accountability hack to get you out of those tricky moments is to create a vision board and keep it in sight so that, no matter how bumpy the journey gets, you never forget why you started and where you’re going.

Lisa, celebrating with some of her group coaching participants!

Accountability Tip #8

Join an accountability group

Studies have shown that having an accountability partner can increase your chances of success to 95%. That’s a lot.

Group coaching programmes are one of my favourite ways to get people moving and empower them to achieve their goals. Whilst I input a lot as a coach, there are so many organic benefits that come from just being a part of the group itself. 

Not only are you accessing a pre-built action-based programme (hooray, no planning!) but you’re also joining a group of peers just like you. You might be from different backgrounds, different businesses and even different countries but you’re all united by a dream of doing something out of the ordinary.

Each individual goes through a similar experience, faces similar challenges and tackles similar feels. Except, they don’t have to tackle it alone. They’ve got a support system ready-to-go. What started as a group of strangers, soon transitions into a single team, cheering each other on, motivating each other to do more and celebrating together at the end.

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About the author

Lisa is a mother, a business owner, a founder, and an executive leader. She's been through it all and has come out the other side to thrive. Now she's helping you to do the same! Learn how you can find clarity and support through her services for individuals and organisations.