Accountability: the key to achieving your goals

By Kat Knights writer, tutor and mentor at Professional Academy

When you’re setting goals and planning the execution of those goals, it’s easy to get bogged down with time management techniques, planning documents and fancy apps. But there’s something missing in that mix – accountability. In this blog I’ll explain what accountability is, why it’s important for increasing the likelihood of achieving your goals and what you can do to introduce accountability to your own life.

What does ‘being accountable’ mean?

Accountability means accepting responsibility for your actions. It’s also about making agreements with other people (an accountability partner) and establishing commitment with them to do something. By doing so you have a way of tracking your progress and ultimately increasing the likelihood of success.

What is the importance of accountability?

In a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology it has been shown that you are more likely to achieve your goal when you share it with someone – as long as that person is of higher status than you and / or you respect them.

Some productivity experts have also asserted that when you consciously decide you want to complete something you have a 20% chance of achievement. However, when you share your goal with someone the likelihood of success increases to 60% and when you regularly ‘check in’ with someone the chances increase even further to 90%.

Benefits of accountability

There are other benefits that accountability and having an accountability partner will bring you.

An accountability partner will help you:

  • Overcome roadblocks by asking questions and encouraging you to work out solutions to problems
  • Stay focused by removing the things that distract you and take you off course
  • Validate your approach by providing a sounding board to bounce ideas off, check your logic and make decisions that can be backed up with justifications

How to find an accountability partner

If you find yourself at the end of each day with your to do list untouched then the chances are you’re putting others before yourself i.e. you’re a people pleaser. It’s a big reason why people often don’t achieve their goals.

Establishing a professional relationship with another person will help you understand the ‘why’ behind your behaviour.

Questions an accountability partner might ask you:

  • Tell me more about that?
  • How did that feel for you?
  • What triggered that?

What should you look for in an accountability partner?

Try to choose someone who:

  • You can be vulnerable with
  • Will ‘call you out’
  • You can trust
  • Has an objective viewpoint
  • You feel confident with
  • Is higher status than you and / or who you respect

Try to avoid using family members as accountability partners. Someone from outside your personal circle is a good choice in order to keep the relationship professional and focused.

Anything is possible

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a work goal, a sport goal or a big life goal e.g. building a house – accountability counts. Having someone you can trust who can motivate you, create a plan with you and (possibly more crucially) navigate that plan with you will lift you out of your comfort zone and stretch you to achieve what you may have thought was impossible.