You probably started today with excitement about reaching your goals, but as the newness of building healthier habits wears off, it can be tough to keep up your motivation and holding yourself accountable for making positive choices. Here are 7 ways to hold yourself accountable when your will starts to wane.
Set Specific Small Goals
This is the Golden Rule of lifestyle change. Taking the S(specific) and A(attainable) aspects of any SMART goal, and setting 1-2 weekly goals that you are confident you can crush is crucial to keeping you on track. While you should have a big picture Wellness Vision – who do you want to be in a year? what do you want your life to look like at this time next year? – this vision isn’t always helpful for the day-to-day decisions that arise. A goal of, “taking better care of myself”, or “getting in shape”, are fine visions to have for yourself, but how does “taking better care of myself” change your weekly routine? How will you know you’re on track to getting in shape?
To support these larger Wellness Visions, try setting weekly goals that look like this: “I will schedule a massage for this weekend” or, “I will go to 2 Bodypump classes this week”. This way, you know if you have done what you need to do to get to your goal, and it’s something that will get done this week, not a year from now, giving you a feeling of accomplishment and benchmarks.
Join a Group
Outside accountability works for many people in many ways. No matter what your Wellness Vision is, a group can help hold you to your goals, even for those who have a high degree of self-discipline. Look for existing groups that fit the bill for your goals on sites like Meetup.com, or browse through Facebook groups (you may have to join a few to find one that meets the activity you need), to meet others who share your goals. I run a Facebook group for men and women looking to live happier, healthier, wealthier and build solid habits which you can join here!
Check out local community spots like libraries, churches, athletic stores, coffee shops, and bookstores to see what groups they host. Often places like these will support groups like book clubs if you’re looking to read more, walk/run clubs, writing or career-focused groups, and many more. Athletic store like Fleet Feet and Lululemon, for example, have weekly fun runs and fitness classes that are free; a great way to meet people in your community and be held accountable for showing up week after week!
Can’t find what you need? Start your own! Social media makes it super easy to find a group of people who fit your niche. Whether your aim is to meet in person, or simply create a like-minded group where you post your goals for the week and follow up at the end of the week, Facebook is an easy way to do just that. Starting a group at work is a great idea as well, you see each other every day so check-ins can be more frequent, and if you have a similar goal like walking more, you can do this together at lunch or after work.
Log Your Stats
Tracking progress is highly motivating and highly accessible. You can download intricate apps to track your goals and progress, or simply create a checklist with pen and paper. Whatever feels easy and motivating to you, go for it! Tracking workouts are probably the most common, after-all it’s easy to either write how many repetitions you do, a weight you lift, miles you run, and minutes you walk. Only be as detailed as you like. Some like seeing stats and numbers, while those with a goal of getting 3 workouts in a week can simply place a check on the calendar days they fit a session in.
Goals that don’t have obvious metrics are perfect for small to-do lists. With my career goals, I write down 3 things I want to accomplish each day so I know what to focus on and I love checking them off. Whenever a week feels particularly unproductive, I flip back and see all the things I have checked off which helps me continue pushing forward.
Often just saying your goal to others ups your personal accountability. If you have a goal of running a half marathon, post the race you are doing an update with photos after your training runs to get your friends to support and prove you’re working towards your goal. With goals like saving more money or sticking to a budget, put it out there that you aim to – for example – bring your lunch every day that week and will update at the end of the week how it went.
Giving yourself a treat for staying on track is a great way to reward yourself for a job well done, just keep your treats to non-food items (you’re not a dog!). This could be a small thing that you do weekly if you hit your goals, a monthly reward, or one based on hitting certain milestones. Treats like a movie, massage, new book, spa day, or luxury item you’ve had your eye on are all great ideas. I had one client who was training for a half marathon and rewarded herself with new earbuds for sticking with her training plan. This was genius because the new earbuds made running more enjoyable and she really felt she earned them!
Bet on Yourself
It’s amazing what motivation you conjure up when money is on the line! Make a daily or weekly bet for a set amount with yourself that you will reach your small specific goals. Choose something you’ve been wanting to purchase for yourself, and if you meet your goal, set aside that money with the idea you can only purchase it with the money you save from hitting your goals.
Another take on this concept giving to others. Pick your favorite charity and at the end of each month, donate the money you’ve collected from meeting your goals. Track the money you’ve donated and looked back at the end of the year at how your keeping on track helped others.
On the flip side, make a bet with a friend, spouse, or family member and pay them when you don’t meet your goals!
Having a professional as your accountability buddy is highly effective because, unlike friends, family, and coworkers, when you hire someone, they are invested in your success and have the tools to help you reach your goals. No matter what you’re tackling, there is someone to help guide you; from career to diet to organization. You can look for someone to help you one-on-one in person or on the phone or join a group program online or in person.
Meeting with someone regularly who can understand what you’re going through and where you want to be, will ensure you don’t blow off your goals. With my Health Coaching clients, the idea that I will be calling them on Wednesday to see if they hit their goal of cooking at home 3 days that week, is enough of a push to make it actually happen. Plus, if they weren’t able to meet their goal, we spend time talking through what the particular struggle was and how to overcome it next week.