The first step in achieving a goal is to set your goal. Write it down. Make it as specific as possible. If it’s too vague, you’re less likely to accomplish it.
Last weekend I completed a long open water swim race I’d registered for months ago.
I had set my goal when I registered for the race and it was pretty specific since it was a race. I didn’t just tell myself that I would like to swim more this summer. Swim more than what?
Next find someone to hold you accountable, depending on the goal. It could be a friend, a colleague, or sometimes there are groups that could help.
Write down the names and how you’d like them to hold you accountable.
I had several types of support. I registered for the race with a friend of mine. We know each other well enough that neither one of us would back out.
I also swim with a Master’s swim team. That doesn’t mean I’m fast, it just means that I have a group to swim with. I didn’t overtly ask for support from the Master’s group, I just let my coach and the other swimmers in my lane know that I was planning on doing the race. Nothing like a little self imposed peer pressure!
Masters has swim practices at specific times, so it also helps with the scheduling. Plus, it’s not all work, work, work. As an introvert, I get the perfect amount of social time in the pool and in the locker room.
Next, decide what will it take to reach your goal.
Write down specific tasks or steps for achieving your goal. Break your goal into smaller chunks. Then schedule them. When will you work on it? Put it in your calendar of choice. On Thursday or Friday, try to schedule the next week so that you don’t have any surprises.
Decide which excuses you’re likely to use for not reaching your goal. It requires a little self-knowledge, but not too much.
Write them down or keep them in your head. Then you’re less likely to use them.
I had plenty of reasons not to do the swim. Mostly that I’ve been rehabilitating my knees and wasn’t quite sure how they would do in the swim or if I’d set myself back.
Also, I’m super busy because my family of four is getting ready to leave for a ten month long field trip.
And…long course (when the lanes are set up so that the lane is 50 meters long) is only in the morning, which meant waking up around five am.
I’ll let you guess what my favorite excuse is…
Schedule times to check in with your support person or persons. Sometimes it can help to have someone working towards the same or a similar goal. Then you can hold each other accountable.
My friend and I tried to check in with each other when we could. We could have done better, but we both have kids out of school for the summer and other busyness happening.
Recognize the benefits of achieving the steps along the way.
Even though I was working towards a specific goal, in the case of swimming, I also received benefits from working towards my goal.
I get my social time in like I mentioned above.
I feel good after I swim. I’m in a good mood and I have more energy. This benefit can last all day for me.
Swimming is exercise, so I got all of the exercise benefits. And as a busy mom, I appreciate not only getting exercise, but also getting a shower!
Accountability is a great tool for achieving goals.
I really felt that being accountable to my friend and my team, helped me get to the pool most morning and to the start line.
As I was swimming in the race, which was 2.7 miles, the length of Donner Lake, I realized that at the end of the day, being held accountable got me to the start line, but I had to get myself to that finish line. A story for another time!
Grab a partner, I’ll see you at the finish line.
How has accountability worked for you? Let me know in the comments down below.
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