How to Hold Yourself Accountable to Your Goals

Hint: there’s more than one kind of goal—and here’s how you’ll set up to achieve them all.

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I’ve been perfecting the art of New Year’s goal-setting for about twelve years now.

I lived in Berlin with my family for one month in the summer, became a speaker at C2 Montréal, completed my first sprint triathlon, payed off my credit card debt, read 12 books, sent more thank-you cards than all my previous years combined, and generated six times my business’s previous year’s sales.

How did I do it? I’ve drawn inspirations from Debbie Ford, Michael Hyatt, Gary W. Keller, Jason Selk, and David Allen to create a system that works (for me at least). And here’s the secret: If you believe that you are done once you’ve set your goals, think again.

So, book two hours a day for the next five days and let’s get started.

Think Holistically

I don’t believe in balance. When you pursue big ideas, you might not be able to be home at 5 p.m. every day. One way to make sure you don’t get lost in your work and still have a fulfilling life is to plan your goals for your whole being, not just your business. I use six categories to stimulate my thinking throughout my planning so that nothing gets left behind:

  1. Creativity and intellect: This is where I plan my goals for inspiration.
  2. Health and well-being: This is anything related to feeling good about your energy levels or self-image, overcoming an illness, or enhancing sport performance.
  3. Family and community: Here, I invite you to reflect on what you have to do to nurture meaningful relationships with friends, family and community.
  4. Wealth and financial freedom: Do you thrive financially? Do you have enough resources to live the life you want to live? Are you independent financially? Any goals related to reducing your money-related stress and creating financial abundance in your life should be implemented here.
  5. Professional development: I encourage you to go through the same process at work or for your business. In your personal goal planning, focus on your character development.
  6. Spiritual and emotional: What do you need to do to feel more connected with yourself and the world around you?

Learn From Last Year

For each category, choose one thing you did and you should do more of. Think about what didn’t work, and what you should do differently to achieve your goals. For instance, looking back on my failed goal of creating a daily morning journaling habit, all I can say is that my daughter wakes up at 5 a.m. and even though I am an early riser, there’s a limit to my motivation of getting up to journal. It looks as though journaling in a coffee shop before I go to the office is a better way of achieving my goal.

Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

On the other hand, I did complete a sprint triathlon despite having a business and a family. I tried training at 9 p.m. after my daughter went to bed and even though it worked, it made me miserable. After adjusting, I realized what worked better for me was to get to the office earlier and train after work.

Create Achievement Goals, Process Goals…And Learning Goals

Here’s where the real work starts. Think about a theme for the year: What would be a breakthrough year for you? What will all these goals have in common? Which principle should you keep in mind? For instance, my theme this year is “rest and digest.” Last year, my goals were very ambitious and I achieved a majority, but I felt that I was only living and breathing to honor my goals. This year, the ability to have white space in my life to reflect, plan and just be is a priority.

This year, the ability to have white space in my life to reflect, plan and just be is a priority.

After, think about two achievement goals for each category. They should be SMART and push you to challenge yourself, while also being coherent. That means that they should not cannibalize each other. If you want to be home for dinner for five nights and attend three networking events per week, for example, there’s no need to say that you’ll be disappointed one way or the other.

Once that’s done, come up with two to three process goals that will push your achievement goals. For my ”complete a sprint triathlon in an hour and 45 minutes” achievement goal, for example, my process goals were to “be active 30 minutes daily” as well as “go to bed by 9:30 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday.” These can be daily or monthly process goals.

Then, the last question: For each achievement goal, what’s the one thing you need to learn to make it happen?

Implement Your Review System

This is where the magic happens. It’s what will help you in joining the few people who complete their yearly resolutions.

You need to review your goals weekly, if not daily. While achievement goals should remain stable throughout the year, you should constantly adjust your process goals to ensure that they are manageable and bringing you closer to success. The purpose is to keep the ship moving on your idea and to make sure you are constantly aware of your next step to achieving your goal. Do it on Friday afternoon with a glass of wine, on Sunday night with a cup of tea, or on Monday morning with coffee. Create a ritual around it, and don’t miss this rendezvous with yourself for the world.