Have you ever said you’d do something, only to later scramble to find a way out of it? Hey, we all do it. But when it comes to sticking to plans, making it to class and saving money, it’s important to hold yourself accountable. Intentions are more pure and goals are more reachable when you have the right tools in place. As you think about personal intentions going forward this year, start the process with these four steps.
Decide who you want to be
Your words and actions start to define you as a person and build your reputation. If you’re the person who’s really into making plans but always bails at the last minute, people will notice and start to think of you as unreliable. Similarly, if you never commit to things for this reason, people will be less likely to invite you out in the first place (regardless of how often you actually do show up). Accountability is respectable. So if you spend time thinking about whether the goal is realistic, like attending a networking happy hour after a busy day at work, you’ll be better able to make a decision that you can stick to and feel good about.
Write down your goals
We’re all busy, and it’s possible that we lose sight of our goals or slack on our obligations. Creating a record of your intended goals will serve as the little reminder that may be necessary for you to succeed. For time-bound goals, like saving enough money for a planned summer trip, try setting weekly digital reminders in your calendar. They’ll keep the end goal in sight and bring you back into focus when you start drifting away.
Involve a friend
Not only do friends provide a solid support base, they’re usually down to come along for the ride. Letting good friends in on your intentions or goals will invite them to follow up with you periodically and thus organically set into motion an accountability group. A great way to stick to your plans is to ask a friend to join you. You’ll think twice about ditching a bestie, and getting to spend time with them will make an even stronger case for showing up.
Review your progress
Reflecting on past decisions is only good if you learn from them in a positive way. For example, if you realize that you always cancel dinner plans when the weather is bad, simply make the decision to dress in weather-appropriate gear so a little cold air or rain doesn’t ruin your night. When reviewing your progress or decisions, it’s very important not to be too hard on yourself. One of the greatest skills is learning how to be flexible and adaptable to unexpected changes. Instead of seeing them as failures, try to appreciate them as opportunities to fine tune the plan and get back on track.