I announced to my friends that I am doing the “20 by 20” challenge this year – to achieve 20 meaningful goals by the start of 2020. I felt excited and happy as I said this … until they asked me what 20 goals I intended to achieve. At this point, I felt my heart flutter with nervousness – I hadn’t really thought through that part of the challenge yet.
This may sound odd to you, announcing something that doesn’t exist as if does. This, however, is part of me, part of my personality if you will. I am a member of the group who require external accountability to support our commitment to achieve something. In other words, we are much more likely to keep promises or agreements that we make to others than those we keep only to ourselves.
By announcing my intent, I was making a commitment to others; and in doing so, I was enhancing my motivation to fulfil my 20 by 20 challenge. From that evening, I was able to explore and identify the 20 goals I’m now taking forward.
Knowing whether you have a preference, or even a need for external accountability is important when thinking about how you wish to achieve your goals.
Some people prefer to work with, or even need an exercise buddy or a personal trainer; others do exceptionally well training on their own. Some people have no problem setting clear objectives for themselves and their business; others may know what they want to do but struggle to structure the objectives and deliver to them without being held accountable.
I remember delivering a major project when I worked in corporate. The biggest buzz I got from the work was my sense of accountability. This was the first time I’d felt so energised by a project, and it was because my toes were being held to the fire by the Board.
However, it is important not to dismiss internal accountability. The desire and commitment to achieve a goal has to come from within – external accountability only acts by adding additional fuel to the fire of that commitment when it starts to wane. If there is no desire, there are no flames to feed.