By now, you know, dear readers, how we feel about connecting intention to action. We feel strongly. Setting intention is simply not enough. We get caught way too easily in “shoulda-coulda-woulda” land, and nothing changes.
Dr. Gail Matthews, a professor of Psychology at Dominican University in California, conducted a study seeking to create a concrete link between writing down our goals, committing to actions which move us in the direction of those goals, and being accountable for taking those actions. She found more than 70 percent of participants in her study who engaged in all three of those activities found success, as compared to just 43 percent of those who simply thought about the goals without writing them down or seeking accountability partners. (Find out more about that study by clicking here.)
I set some pretty ambitious goals in 2017 for the growth of the equine guided learning portion of our business. I wrote down the goals, and listed general actions to move us in the direction of reaching them, but stopped short of finding accountability partners to keep us on track. In fact, I would argue even the actions I listed weren’t specific enough. But even with the ones that were, without someone to check in with me about our progress and hold me accountable for taking action, we fell short.
I could argue that the goals were too big, or not practical, but I don’t buy into that way of thinking. I don’t accept excuses from other people, so I don’t make them myself. The hard truth is that I failed to go far enough to bring those big dreams into reality until quite late in the year. The consequences are clear—we didn’t get nearly as far as we wanted toward launching this portion of the business.
I’m one of those people who do better when I feel like I’m not the only one out here struggling to reach a goal. So I’m inviting you to struggle to meet your goals along with me. Here’s the process I’m following now (and have been since August). I invite you to follow it, too. Use me as your accountability partner. All you have to do is reach out. Here are the steps:
What are the big areas in which you want to set goals for this year? If you have goals for your personal life as well as professional, I encourage you to make two lists in order to be as clear and focused as possible. Examples of categories could be how much money you want to make, obtaining a new position, or growth of your business in terms of revenue and/or services.
Dive into the weeds.
Take each category or area you listed, and start getting detailed. If you’ve named business growth as a category, write down specific examples of what that means. Is it in expansion of services? If so, detail what that expansion involves. What new things will you offer to whom? If you’ve said you’d like to increase your skills in a particular area, list specific things you can do to make progress. Is it taking classes? Finding a coach? Getting a certification? Be as detailed and specific as you can for each of the big areas you listed.
Set a timeline.
Without deadlines, it’s embarrassingly easy to procrastinate. Create some urgency. For each action item you listed, crack open that calendar and get real. Put each and every task which will move you along to reaching that goal into time slots in your calendar. This includes planning time. Developing a new service? Put time for planning out that service into your calendar. Acquiring a new skill? Allocate time for doing the research on the best courses to take. If your calendar doesn’t reflect movement towards the goals, you’re just dreaming.
Find a partner.
The accountability piece is the most critical, in my experience. Even if your goals aren’t fully developed, and your tasks aren’t 100% thought through, if you have an accountability partner, you’ll make progress. There are qualities to look for which are different for everyone. I started naming a few and realized this blog post will go on way too long, so I’ll save it for next week. I’ll leave it here for now and just emphasize the importance of having that partner.
You can do this. I know you can. 2018 is going to be a great year, if you decide it will. Take some time to look forward, make a plan, and find someone to hold your feet to the fire. Get started on those goals, and we’ll talk more next week about finding the right accountability partner. Have a great week!