Adding Accountability to Your Goal Planning

When I was in high school, I played on the golf team. While I wasn’t the best player, I really loved the game and wanted to excel at it. But I wasn’t excelling. I’d practice, take lessons then go out on the golf course and shoot about the same. So I thought there was something wrong with my mindset. I had heard that successful people often set goals that they look to achieve. That’s what I was going to do; it was the missing link in my efforts. On a piece of paper, I scribbled ‘win a golf tournament,’ and got ready for my rewards.

Do you lose something if you fail to reach your goal?  It might be the missing link in your planning.

Do you lose something if you fail to reach your goal? It might be the missing link in your planning.

You know what happened? I didn’t win a golf tournament. It turns out simply writing down goals does nothing for you, without a plan in place. I didn’t reevaluate my practicing or focus on my demeanor – I needed to calm down. I’m now a much better player than I was back then, when I played competitively because I simply control my emotions better on the course.

A couple weeks ago, I laid out my goals for the year and month. After a conversation with Brad Closson, who helps run a social media consulting firm in Austin, TX., I realized I needed to do some better planning. He even offered to take a look at my plan, after I finished. It turns out not much has changed since my days scribbling on a note to myself. He said, “Without accountability, this is just a piece of paper.

“Basically, in bullet points, what are you going to do to make sure you reach these goals? Who will you share it with.  How often.  What will you put in place to make sure you stick to your plan?  These are as important as the goals [Emphasis added].”

Talk about a great example of asking for help as well. I would have continued on, without changing anything, unless I had asked Brad for his feedback. It’s not the height of insanity to do the same thing over and over again, expecting different results or a new idea for what to do next. It’s stubbornness. Besides that point, he’s absolutely right. I need culpability.

He suggests having someone to turn to that will question me, if I fail to reach the goals I lay out. While I will do that, in part by posting on the blog and talking to a couple friends/mentors about it, I’m going one step further. That’s because while people that you trust may be let down by your inability to reach your goals, they also might be impressed by what you achieved. While it’s important to keep what you have achieved in mind, that’s not the point of this goal-setting exercise. That means they may not actually stay on your case, if you’re accomplishing many of your goals.

So along with a friend, I’m looking towards a monetary loss if I fail to take the proper steps to try and reach a goal. is such a site (not an affiliate link). You sign up, list the goals, assign someone to monitor your efforts and if you fail, then you lose the money you set aside on the site to an “anti-charity” or an organization you don’t support. But whatever you choose, make sure you have these three layers of accountability:

  1. Someone that can monitor you, who also understands the importance of keeping your goals
  2. A negative result if you fail to reach your goals. It’s the best way that we’re motivated. Having a potential negative outcome if you don’t take the proper steps will encourage you when you’re looking for motivation
  3. A way to celebrate reaching the goals. Don’t forget to enjoy the positive outcomes you earn by reaching your goals

I’ve realized by talking to Brad that my entire life, I’ve been goal setting incorrectly. While it’s eye-opening, it’s also encouraging since I now know how to do it right.

Do you use anything different for goal accountability? Feel free to share in the comments section.

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