Have you ever asked yourself how to accomplish your goals; how to stay on the agenda; how to not wander off from your tasks, or simply put, how to hold yourself accountable?
If you look around, you’ll find that the most successful people you can think of accomplish their goals through consistency, persistence, and motivation. That means staying in the game even when things get rough.
Tim Ferris, the author of The Four Hour Work Week, never would have published his book if he gave up after the first rejection of his manuscript. Or the second. Or the 25th for that matter. It was the 26th publisher who agreed to work with him, and his book ultimately sold millions of copies.
In 1978, the legendary Michael Jordan didn’t make it to the varsity team in his sophomore year. If he stopped trying then, we wouldn’t know him now as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
The only way to turn your motivation into success is through persistence.
While other people’s success stories are inspiring, they don’t make persistence any easier. Holding on to a goal for a long time after a series of challenges and risks requires long-term planning and a lot of emotional investment.
How can you pull this off? How to train your persistence and stay focused on your goals?
Write Everything Down
Our brain is a hard disk with a limited amount of storage memory. The more you fill it with information, the more difficult it becomes to manage all that data.
“Paper is to write things down that we need to remember. Our brains are used to think.” – Albert Einstein
Humans forget things for a variety of reasons: mental overload; defense mechanisms; our minds need to “clear up space” for new information, etc.
There’s a whole bunch of digital and non-digital tools you can use for writing things down: sticky (or digital) notes; The Productivity Planner (more on this later); different types of journals (project journal, list journal, etc); Google Sheets, Google Docs, and so on.
Besides relieving your brain from memorizing everything, there’s another reason to do it: ticking them off as you finish them is satisfying. This can boost your daily motivation and keep you accountable over a longer period of time.
Set Goals, Plan Ahead, and Become a Time-Management Master
Everything is easier when you know where you’re headed and why.
People driven by clear, achievable goals are usually more resilient to challenges and obstacles they encounter on a daily level.
Tim Ferris knew what he wanted to achieve: publish his book by X deadline. Although his deadlines kept being postponed, he himself was unstoppable. It is only when you’re absolutely sure about what you want to achieve in life can you persistently move towards your goal.
Is there anything that could help you on the journey of following your dreams?
Enter The Productivity Planner.
The tool we’ve designed for anyone who could use a helping hand in managing their goals. The Productivity Planner, now fully updated, teaches you to plan ahead on a weekly and daily level and prioritize your tasks. This way you always know where to begin.
It also relies on one of the best (and more flexible) time management methods: the Focus Time technique.
This technique emphasizes the importance of chunking tasks: instead of working in exhausting several-hour sessions, you are required to split your tasks into smaller steps, followed by short five-minute breaks. That way you preserve your energy over a longer period of time and remain focused and motivated.
With the right goals on paper, a clear strategy for achieving them, and a proper time-management method, you’ll never question your accountability again.
Whether it’s taking a break to do something you really enjoy, going away for the weekend, trying out something new for the first time, or simply napping longer in the morning after a series of exhausting and productive days, rewarding ourselves for the great work we’re doing is a huge motivator to keep going and remain persistent with our goals.
Just committing to work without leaving time for pleasure will make you dread setting your initially amazing goals.
If the previous 50-60 years of research in business have taught us anything, it’s that people need to take breaks and recharge, otherwise they’ll fall victim to the burnout syndrome and start resenting their jobs.
Regardless of whether your goals are job-related or personal, if you don’t distance yourself from them from time to time, they’ll eventually become a burden instead of excitement.
Take care of yourself first and make it a priority. Place it as your most important task in the Productivity Planner, because you deserve it.
Talk to Others
Other people are amazing sources of accountability. Sharing your plans with your business partner, life partner, parent, or best friend can do miracles for your sense of responsibility towards the task.
Besides, this process is out of our control. Until we learn how to conquer our lizard brain, other people can help us maintain our accountability by reminding us when we’re sliding off the tracks.
Start Small and Then Build Momentum
If you’re only at the beginning of this journey, don’t expect yourself to be an accountability superstar.
If your goal is to implement a healthy lifestyle, start working out 15-20 minutes instead of deciding to go straight into running 12 miles every morning.
We all have those tasks that keep on getting rewritten from one to-do list to another until we forget about them, and then, after a while, they come back to haunt us.
Regardless of whether it’s the most difficult, the most boring, or the most unpleasant task from the list, don’t beat yourself up about it. Split this into small steps, start with something simple and light, and warm yourself up for the big thing.
By building momentum, you can maintain your motivation and accountability instead of rewriting the same tasks over and over again in perpetuity.
Make Self Restrictions
Are you familiar with Greek mythology and the Ulysses contract?
It refers to a consciously made decision a person makes to commit to avoiding an act they don’t want to repeat or succumb to in the future.
Ulysses had an urge to hear the captivating song of the sirens, which he knew would drive him straight into death at sea, so he asked his ship crew members to wax his ears and tie him up, so the ship could sail safely.
While this level of drama is reserved for antique heroes and heroines, you too can make a Ulysses pact with yourself:
- Set up website or phone blocking apps early in the morning to avoid any distractions;
- Put your phone in a hard-to-reach place to avoid checking social media and, therefore, procrastinating; and so on.
There are more ways of making a Ulysses pact with yourself, you just need to get creative.
Accountability goes beyond responsibility. It means sticking to your plan, being persistent, and motivated, all the way until you achieve your goals.
Learning how to hold yourself accountable is not an easy process, but it’s worth the effort. There’s nothing like a well-deserved reward.
To sum up, here’s what you can do to hold yourself accountable:
- Write things down;
- Plan ahead and use The Productivity Planner;
- Reward yourself and celebrate small wins;
- Talk to others and tell them about your plans;
- Start with small tasks and build momentum for bigger tasks;
- Remove distractions to stop procrastinating.