How To Hold Yourself Accountable: 10 Tips To Keep On Track
Feeling stressed out and have too much on your plate? Or maybe you’re struggling to keep to your deadlines and you can feel the burnout coming your way. Or maybe this is the first time in which you were working for yourself and you’re not used to having a boss to keep you on track.
Whichever scenario seems most like you, we’re here to help! We’ve got 10 tips to help you stay on track and hold yourself accountable to YOU. In my career I’ve had to be personally accountable for the last decade, but it takes a developed skill set in order to optimize your own efficiency. Let’s jump into the list so you can start working to increase your personal accountability.
1. State Your End Goal And Put It Where You Can See It All The Time.
This end goal is the far off dream that you’re working for, but you need to be able to see this on a daily basis. If you lose focus on that end goal, then what are we even working towards? If you’re building a business or trying to pay off your home or car, then keep that right in front of you at all times. This way, when you set your daily goals, you can ask yourself, “Do these actions move me closer to my goal?” If the answer is no, then you need to cross it off the list and move on.
This is what we call a BHAG, or Big Hairy Audacious Goal. This is the end boss, be end all be all… until you hit it. Then you come up with a new BHAG to continue your personal growth.
This goal thought is what everything below will drive towards, but it’s up to you to have it written down where you can see it all the time, and be ready to write it on the daily when you said your other goals that we’ll talk about below. But please take a moment, and comment down below, what is YOUR BHAG?
2. State your “WHY”/ Build Your Vision Board.
You may be asking, “Wait, wouldn’t the end goal and the Why be the same thing? Not really. Your goal should be what you want to accomplish, where your “Why” is just that…. Why you want to accomplish the goal above. Your personal drive will only be as big as the “Why” you have behind it. If you haven’t had a chance to see, check out Simon Sinek’s video on “Start With Why”. In this video he does a great job of explaining how your behaviors change when you start with your “Why”.
Once you have taken the time to actually state out your why, spend some time putting together a vision board. However, don’t just throw pictures of nice cars and fancy houses on this thing. That doesn’t work because it’s not yet within your reach. Instead, take a moment from your day and sit down in a quiet place and dig deep for a moment. In order to have a vision, you need to envision, which is a practice. An action.
When you go through the time to envision what you want your life to look like, it can start to take shape and become a tangible thing that you’re working towards. Once you’ve created that vision in your mind, put THAT down on your vision board.
3. Set Aside Time to Plan.
Now whether you’re doing this for your normal job or if you’re taking the entrepreneur approach, step 3 is vital for your success. I’ve coached for decades that you should never go into something new without a plan of action. Every month as I sit down to put together my calendar I always include planning time, or how I list it as “organizational management”. I’ll be honest, I give it more important verbiage to tell my brain that this NEEDS to get done.
Each month, I set my goals for what I want to accomplish and then set a route to actually accomplish it. Without taking the time to plan this out though, you’ll find yourself wondering what needs to happen next. I equate this to standard physics, an object in motion stays in motion, an object at rest stays at rest. If I spend to much time without a plan, I’ll slow down and then I won’t be proactive with my business. Once you’re standing still, it’s really hard to get back moving again without that external force to push your forward again.
4. Construct a Calendar With Notifications.
Such a simple idea isn’t it? Take what you need to do and put it on a calendar. However it took me years of my professional life to actually get consistent in doing this. This should be a part of your time to plan that we listed above, but it needs to be set up right. I use google calendar as it syncs with everything, but make sure you add in notifications to help remind you whats on the agenda.
As you build your calendar at the beginning of the month, fill in everything, including your downtime, family time, date nights etc.. This will help you balance everything on your plate and keep you from feeling burnout. Then every morning you should look through not just today, but tomorrow as well to give yourself a look ahead. Then every week, I take a moment and make any adjustments for the week ahead. If you want to know more on how to bring more work/life balance tips, check out my article on that here.
5. Give Yourself Due Dates that are Non-negotiable.
Now that your calendar is put together and you have a plan, it’s time to draw some lines in the sand. This is one of the biggest tricks I can give you is to give yourself due dates and stick to them. If you said you were going to have X done by Monday, then it’s crunch time, get it done by Monday. By giving boundaries to yourself, you start to hold yourself accountable.
Then, when, and I do mean when, you start to drag and it looks like you might miss one of your deadlines, take a look at your end goal and go over your vision board. Reinvigorate those feelings of passion and go get it done. To tie it back, when you don’t have that vision board or a stated goal, then why is that due date so important? See where I’m going with all of this?
Additionally, when you set those due dates, if you have a significant other or a spouse, make sure you take the time to communicate those to them as well. They may not see the importance or the vision in the same way you do, so when you say you need to stay up late to work on this, they can understand why.
6. Write Out Your Daily Goals Everyday
OK, so at this point we put have put together the structure you need to build up your productivity, and it’s time to put it to practice. You get up in the morning and go through your morning routine, and it’s time to face the day. Step 1 is to pull up your calendar and see what you have on the agenda for the day. Then it’s time to write out your daily goals. Exactly what are you going to accomplish in the time you have allotted?
A huge key to this is to make sure you actually WRITE it out. Don’t just think it through but put it on paper. There is something about writing it out that makes these goals more tangible. You can cross them off as you get them done, and that shoots a burst of endorphins to the brain that makes you feel good. And when you’re feeling good about what you’re doing, it’s easier to hold yourself accountable.
As you write out your daily goals though, have your ultimate end goal from Tip #1 up at the top of the page. That way as you are writing your goals for the day you can ask yourself, “what does this goal ultimately do for what I want to accomplish?” If doesn’t help or move you in the right direction, then it doesn’t need to be on your goal sheet. Cross it out and think deeper.
7. Create an Environment for Immersion
The environment you put yourself in to work is going to depend on you and how you function. For some, it may be in a coffeehouse with background noise, or maybe it’s in your home office with complete quiet. It’ll take some self awareness for you to know exactly what you need in order to work your best, but once you find it, utilize it.
Once you get your environment right, it’s time to dive in all the way. When I say immersion in the subtitle, I mean just that. That you dive deep into you work so that it all you are really thinking about. This is where you can start to knock the big things off your daily goal list and make an impact on vision.
Be ready thought to battle off your own personal distractions though. Turn your cellphone off if you can, lock the door, whatever it is that will keep you from pulling up a YouTube video or searching the web for something else. This is you time, and it’s time to immerse yourself into your work.
8. Celebrate Your Small Wins
When you’re out to hold yourself accountable, that means there won’t be anyone to hold you accountable OR give you the recognition some people feel they may need to put out their best work. This part also has to come from you. I had a boss one time tell me “If you need me to tell you when you’re doing a good job, then you’re not doing a good enough job to make yourself feel good about it.” You’re going to have to recognize when you’ve done something you feel great about and feel free to celebrate it!
When we look at Tip 1 and 2, those are far off and away goals. Those won’t happen overnight, and if that’s your only measure of success, then you’ll struggle to find the drive to keep going. You need to find the pleasure in completions and small wins to keep the fire burning. When you get that next task done, pat yourself on the back. If you get 100 views on your website for the first time, celebrate! Be happy! it’s a win. Now how do you top it? How do you repeat it? How do you make it consistent? Once you do, now you have another win to celebrate.
9. Love the Process, Not the Results
Personally, this is my own biggest challenge. I love reports. I’m an analytical type of person and I like to see results. Honestly, it’s why I had such a hard time last year as I felt I wasn’t growing my business fast enough. I was ready for a sprint instead of the marathon and my mindset wasn’t in shape enough for it.
Instead of focusing on the results that you’re looking to achieve, instead look at the process it takes to be successful and enjoy that part. If you’re a leader in an organization, learn to love the recruiting and the coaching instead of hitting the monthly quota. If you’re starting a YouTube channel, fall in love with the video production and the editing, not the subscriber count. Either way, when you start to love the process, the process will start to love you back by showing those results you were looking for to begin with.
When you expect the quick turnaround, you only set yourself up for disappointment. As the old adage asks, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”
10. Schedule Time To Evaluate Yourself
This is the last stage in your evolution, and it’s the last stage of my Big 3- Meetings, Routines and Evaluation. We met with ourselves and came up with our goals and our vision. We took the time to build our routines and set a daily plan. Now it’s time to look back and evaluate our own performance. This one can be tough as we will either be our biggest critic, or our biggest champion. You’ll need to take a moment and step out of yourself in order to really analyze your own work.
This should be in your monthly calendar as well towards the end of the month. Take the time to look back at what you’ve done and how you want to continue to improve. Those personally critiques should then be rolled into your plan for the following month. What do you feel you need to learn next? How can you improve your process? How would you grade your work if you were your own boss? These are all questions you should ask yourself when you take this time.
No one will ever invest more time in you than yourself. Nobody cares more about your dreams and aspirations than you. So why cheat yourself out of the opportunity for self growth? Take this time and look in the mirror, and look for the next step to greatness.
Summary and closing
I hope you all enjoyed this read. I’ve been coaching and developing sales teams for decades and I know this isn’t necessarily about growing passive income but I do feel like the message works in the standard workplace as it does building your own online business.
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