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Accountability is a critical yet often overlooked component of getting results when you set goals. It's different than making a public commitment, as it reflects an ongoing one-to-one relationship. I define accountability as receiving guidance and follow-up from another person that I trust. By my definition, you cannot hold yourself accountable. While you can certainly be personally responsible for the decisions that you make, accountability requires the help of a third party.
Perhaps you've heard a great athlete say that they're the product of great coaching. This illustrates what I mean. There's tremendous value in having someone who can assess what you're doing, give you training and support, and follow up on the progress that you're making. There are three common sources of accountability to consider. The first are your friends, and in this, I am including your family and possibly coworkers. Receiving accountability from a friend is usually very convenient, because you already know them, and it won't cost you anything, outside from perhaps a bit of humility when asking for help.
Friends can be a helpful resource in providing accountability, but they're not nearly as effective as the other two options-- mentors and coaches. Mentors are people who have accomplished the very thing that you want to accomplish. They've walked the path before, and they know the steps that you can take to walk that same path. For my goal of completing a marathon, I might find a mentor who has competed in several marathons and ask for advice.
Perhaps you have friends that are also mentors. Because mentors have actually done what you are trying to do, they speak from a place of experience. One occasional challenge in working with a mentor is that they have other interests in their life. They have goals they're trying to accomplish. So they may not be able to devote their full attention to helping you succeed. And this leads us to the third option, coaches. I'm including trainers, therapists, and perhaps even clergy in this category.
These are people who've decided to devote themselves to the profession of helping other people achieve success. They're usually well trained and well practiced in that art. It's very possible that you already have coaches in certain areas of your life. For instance, you may work with a physical trainer to help you get your body into shape, or a business coach to help you get your business running smoothly. Coaches can be particularly effective because their success depends on your success.
They're typically willing to devote more resources and time to help you succeed. I know from experience, as a business coach, that I spend considerable amount of time each month thinking about ways to better help my clients. With a coach, it's often easier to have a regular schedule of accountability. Whomever is holding you accountable, you'll want to have a schedule of follow-up with them multiple times a month for training and tracking of your progress. Because coaches are professionals, their services will cost you some money.
While this can be a barrier for some, I've found that the return on investment for a good coach is always many times greater than whatever the cost was. Take a moment now and consider one of the goals that you've set for yourself. Ask yourself, for this one goal who do I want to make myself accountable to: a friend, a mentor, or a coach? Once you've made that decision, take action on it by contacting that person. Let them know your goal, so they can begin to hold you accountable.
Let's continue on to the next step toward achieving your goals.
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