Accountability can come in a number of different guises and runs across all facets of life and business.

The vast majority of people who sign up to go to the gym drop off fairly quickly unless they also sign up for personal training sessions. The benefit of the personal trainer (PT) is not only in them pushing you harder than you would on your own, but it’s the requirement to turn up at a specified time on a specified date that holds us accountable to continuing with the gym sessions.

The idea of going for a walk early in the morning appeals but knowing that you’re meeting your friend on the street corner a few streets away will get you out of bed on a cold wintry morning when you would otherwise have snuggled under the covers and stayed in bed a while longer.

I believe that there are three facets of accountability.

The first is the commitment you make to be there with someone else. Whether it’s your friend on the street corner, the PT instructor, or your business coach/mentor appointment, you’ve made a commitment to turn up, and it’s not easy to back down or cancel.

The second facet of accountability relates to having other people hold you responsible for the goals you set yourself. The key is that the goals are your goals, not someone else’s goals for you. When you put it out into the world, to a group of friends or to your closest confidante that you’re planning to do x, by failing to meet the goal you’ll feel like you’ve let them down as well as having let yourself down.

The third facet of accountability is in setting deadlines for your goals. When looking at goal setting the standard is the SMART goals. That is those that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. The timely portion of the goal setting intertwines with the accountability.

Sharing goals with others can be a daunting experience particularly if the goal is out of your usual comfort zone. It feels easier to simply keep the goal to yourself, that way if you don’t achieve it, no one will know, and you can talk to yourself about why you didn’t achieve it and let yourself off the hook. Much harder to do so when you’ve shared the goal.

But not all goals will be achieved, and that’s ok too. I recently set a goal with a 30 June deadline on it. Whilst I won’t achieve the goal, what I have achieved is taking action towards it, and it’ll be 80% achieved with the residual being completed in July.

Strictly speaking, I have not achieved my goal, but I’m happy because without having set the goal and shared it with a few close friends, I wouldn’t have even started, I’d still be thinking about it without having taken action.

Not only that, but I’ve had my friends supporting and encouraging me along the way. They’ve joined in the journey with me, they have an interest in helping me to achieve the goal, and I know that without them, I wouldn’t have even started let alone have done as much as I have.

Choose your accountability buddies carefully, and you’ll achieve more of your goals both personal and business.