How many times have you abandoned your New Year’s resolution? Do you often backpedal on a commitment, telling yourself you will “do it tomorrow” — but tomorrow never comes? You’re not alone. While you may have the best of intentions, your follow-through leaves a little to be desired. To add insult to injury, you probably never give it a second thought. Whatever happened to holding ourselves accountable?
It’s not only what you do, but what you don’t do that’s important.
11 Simple Ways to Hold Yourself Accountable
When you break a promise to yourself, it not only affects the current situation, but it can easily turn into a bad habit. Here are 11 simple ways to hold yourself accountable:
Accept ownership. Assume responsibility. As Benjamin Franklin said, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”
Get started. Intentions are meaningless without action. Don’t procrastinate. If you want to get anywhere, you must start somewhere. Once you begin, it’s often less painful to do the work.
Set ambitious — yet reasonable — goals. If your objectives are unrealistically ambitious you may try to abandon the effort. Pursue goals that you can tolerate. For example, it’s better to embrace a lifestyle change than to go on a crash diet.
Create short-term milestones. Short-term targets help you build confidence and momentum as you pursue your long-term goals.
Commit to a deadline. According to a flu shot study, researchers found that employees who wrote down the date and time they planned to get their flu shot were significantly more likely to follow through weeks later.
Pinpoint unproductive habits. Routines can work for, or against, you. Break bad habits by doing such things as changing your mindset from “I can’t” to “I’ll try.”
Adjust your plan. As Confucius said, “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”
Celebrate small wins. You will have good days and bad. Identify at least one win each day and reward yourself for your progress.
Jot yourself a note. Chronicle why the effort is important to you to inspire yourself on tough days.
Disclose your goals. According to research people are more committed to their goals if they communicate them with someone they respect.
Identify resources. Get a buddy to keep you on track, hold your feet to the fire, or go on the journey with you. (Think of it like a personal trainer.)
Make Promises to Yourself — and Keep Them
Let’s look at the situation logically. YOU decide that something’s important to you. So, you set a goal and make a commitment to pursue it. But then you think, “Oh no, what did I get myself into?” You realize it is going to take hard work, sacrifice, and commitment. So, instead of working hard to achieve your goal, you look for excuses to let yourself off the hook.
Keep those promises that you make to others — and yourself.
What’s the point of having a goal if you don’t intend on following through? It’s either important to you or it’s not. Although it may seem easy to let yourself off the hook, you’re not doing yourself any favors. In fact, you’ll probably come to regret it. As Lou Holtz, the legendary football coach, said, “The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to be the one who dropped it.” Hold yourself accountable for things that matter. Those who begin things, but never complete them, accomplish nothing.
Check out Frank’s new book, The Path to a Meaningful Life
Do You Hold Yourself Accountable?
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