Friday, 4 January 2008

Use Accountability to Stay Committed to Your New Year's Resolutions

Here's an idea inspired by President Bill Clinton. In 2005 President Clinton set up the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) to "help turn good intentions into real actions and results." For as Caroline Myss said, "You cannot change anything in your life with intention alone, which can become a watered-down, occasional hope that you'll get to tomorrow. Intention without action is useless."

The CGI focuses on four areas:

1. Education,
2. Energy and climate change,
3. Global health, and
4. Poverty alleviation.

At the CGI's Annual Meeting, each member makes a commitment to take action. What's more their commitments are declared publicly and each member's commitment is documented in the form of a certificate which they sign. If members do not carry out their commitment they are no longer eligible to remain in the CGI. It is the ultimate form of accountability.

It is an established fact that writing down your goals helps you to achieve them. It's like issuing yourself a contract. However, when you share your goal with at least one other person, particularly if you specifically ask that person to hold you accountable, then it gives you added impetus to achieve that goal. For members of the CGI, the eyes of the world are upon them and so when they announce their pledges it is a serious undertaking.

The commitments of the CGI members had an unexpected effect. Members of the general public started to send in their commitments. This was totally unsolicited and as commitments continued to be submitted the CGI decided to formalise these commitments as well. Consequently, you can now visit and submit your commitment to make positive change in any of the aforementioned areas. It demonstrates the power of the 'ordinary' person to make significant change locally, nationally and even internationally.

"I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do."
Helen Keller

So here's how you can stay committed to your New Year's Resolutions or indeed any goals you set. Don't just write them down on a piece of paper that might not see the light of day for weeks, if not months. Design your own special commitment certificate, type in your goals, print it out (I suggest you make several copies) and place them in strategic locations around your home and office. In this way you will have a constant reminder of what you have set out to achieve. You may even want to frame your certificates as a demonstration of the seriousness of your commitment.

Once you've achieved your goal(s) update your certificates. You may want to write a new list of goals or you may simply want to place a big tick or star next to the goal you have achieved. This will further motivate you. This approach may seem basic but it does work and you want to achieve your goals, don't you?

In addition to this, schedule meetings with your accountability partner(s). Hopefully they will have made their commitment certificates as well. Use these meetings to review your goals, to discuss any challenges you may be facing and what would help to keep you on track and on target.

These meetings do not have to be in person and so there is no excuse not to hold them. It's a good idea to actually schedule a series of dates and times for these meetings in advance so that they become a fixture in your calendar.

There's just one caution I'd like to add. Some individuals will take this idea and use it to help them achieve MEGA goals; others will play it safe and, because they know they have to be accountable. They will choose goals that they feel confident they can comfortably achieve. I strongly recommend that you scrap the latter idea.

Bob Proctor says that if a goal doesn't both excite you and scare you it is not worthy of you. Goals are supposed to stretch you. When striving towards a truly worthwhile goal you will feel uncomfortable at times because you will have to step beyond your comfort zone. Einstein said that you cannot solve a problem at the level at which it was created. Similarly, you will have to evolve to a new level in order to achieve a worthy goal. Goal achievement is about who you become as a result of pursuing your goals. It's not just about the achievement of the goal itself.

So raise the bar. Make a commitment to achieve something truly outstanding so that in a year's time, when you look back at your accomplishments, instead of regret for what might have been you will feel a tremendous sense of pride.

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