Before we dive into Part Four—Accountability, here is a review of what we’ve covered this month.
Evaluation and Reflection
The only way we can reasonably decide what we want in the future and how we will get there is to first know where we are right now and what our level of satisfaction is for where we are in life. With our focus on goal-setting, our first order of business and topic from earlier was to set aside some serious time for evaluation and reflection.
Dreams and Goals
What are your dreams and goals? Not related to the past or what you think you can get, but what you want. Have you ever sat down and really thought through your life values and decided what you truly want? This isn’t something someone else says you should have or what culture tells us successful people do or have. These are dreams and goals born out of your own heart and mind, unique to you, and come from who you were created to be and gifted to become. A couple of weeks ago, we showed you exactly how to figure out what you want from life.
SMART means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-sensitive.
Specific: Don’t be vague. Exactly what do you want?
Measurable: Quantify your goal. How will you know if you’ve achieved it or not?
Attainable: Be honest with yourself about what you can reasonably accomplish at this point in your life, while taking into consideration your current responsibilities.
Realistic: It’s got to be doable, real and practical.
Time: Associate a time frame with each goal. When should you complete the goal?
We’ve already looked at how to apply the SMART test to your goals and ensure they are powerful!
Think of the word accountable. It means to give an account. When someone knows what your goals are, they help hold you accountable. Whether it is someone else going through this program with you (have you thought about inviting a friend to join you on this one-year journey?) or just someone you can give the basic idea to, having a person who can hold you accountable will give you another added boost to accomplishing your goals!
Accountability—a contract with yourself or someone else—is a vital key in the goal-setting process. In those early days, My friend held me accountable for my progress on the goals I had set. He asked those hard questions that helped motivate me to continuously work on achieving my dreams. Accountability puts some teeth into the process. If a goal is set and only one person knows it, does it really have any power? Many times it doesn’t. At the very least, it isn’t as powerful as if you had one or more people who will hold you accountable to your goal.
Think of the word accountable. Webster defines it as, “liable to being called to account; answerable.” In other words, it means to give an account of your actions to yourself or another person. Accountability is a very broad word, yet accountability is essentially follow-up. When someone knows what your goals are, they follow up and hold you accountable by asking you to “give an account” of where you are in the process. Human nature is such that when we know someone else is going to ask us about it, we are much more motivated to get it done. If for no other reason than we don’t want to look lazy and uncommitted to those we are accountable to! This is why having an accountability partner is so important. Whether it is someone else going through this program with you or just someone who you can give the basic idea to, having a place of accountability will give you another added boost to achieving your goals!
In the basic sense, there are two kinds of accountability: internal and external. Internal accountability is essentially the level of integrity you maintain not only throughout the evaluation process but also in life. It means that when you look at yourself, you judge yourself with honesty. This is where you hold yourself accountable to doing what you said you would do. If you’ve messed up, say, “I’ve messed up,” but if you’ve done well, then you can celebrate your progress. Let the internal accountability prod you and spur you on to greater action in pursuit of your achievements.
So first and foremost, it is our responsibility to hold ourselves accountable. We answer to ourselves. We take charge of ourselves. How do we do that? Here are a few ideas:
– Write down your goals so they become “objective.” You can’t go back and say, “That wasn’t really my goal.”
– Be ruthlessly honest with yourself when you assess whether or not you have met the goal (of course, if you were specific in your S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting, you won’t have much wiggle room here anyway).
– If you fall short of your goal, or if you are falling short while on the way, knuckle down and hold yourself accountable to do what it takes to make up the ground so that you can hit that goal!
– Set a time frame in which you will evaluate your progress and hold yourself accountable.
The second aspect of accountability is that it is external. Find someone else or a group of others to hold you accountable. When we commit to giving an account to someone else for our actions and goals, we take it to the next level. Now let me say that the external part of accountability will not work without the internal aspect. If you are not honest with yourself, then you will probably not be honest with others. Asking someone to hold you accountable and then knowing you won’t be completely honest with them will never work. In fact, Howard Hendricks used to have a series of accountability questions that went something like this: Have you done “A”? Have you done “B”? Have you done “C”? Now, have you told the truth on the first three questions? That is a good series of questions to ask!
Having an accountability partner or an outside source of accountability is a powerful force if done right. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you set up an accountability partner:
– Choose someone who cares about you, but can be tough and honest with you. They need to care about you—and you have to know and feel that care—because you become vulnerable by making yourself accountable to them. They need to be tough and honest though, because you don’t want to have them shy away from telling you to get on the ball when you are slacking, getting behind or not doing the job. I think the expression, “tough love” would fit appropriately here. In essence, they love us enough to be honest with us about our progress.
– Tell them specifically what your goals are.
– Commit to being honest with them.
– Give them permission to speak words of encouragement, as well as words of challenge when the situation calls for it.
– Agree on a reasonable time frame in which you will allow them to evaluate your progress and hold you accountable.
– Follow up on their words when they challenge you or call you to action.
Accountability can be a tremendous thing. There is an old proverb that says one can put a thousand to flight, but two can put ten thousand to flight. When we have someone holding us accountable, we bring others onto our team who will make us stronger, who will make us soar higher, and who will cause our lives to be much richer because of their involvement.
Take a moment and really consider who you will make yourself accountable to in the pursuit of your goals. Now, go back through the words above and begin to work this process out in your own life. You will be extraordinarily glad you did!
Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!