Holding Myself Accountable for my Goals
Updated: Aug 2
When I had received an assignment a few weeks ago to research and produce content on productivity tips, I chose to focus on the topic of personal accountability because it was something that I needed badly. On a Monday, I would often create a beautifully organized and well thought out to-do list and schedule for my week, only to not follow through with it. I would do the most appealing work first, rather than the most urgent, and sometimes skipped less important tasks altogether. I was super organized and had my goals clearly defined, but I was still missing the key ingredient: the ability to take complete responsibility for the tasks I had set out for myself. Accountability is absolutely essential and it is often the difference between success and failure. It is also a difficult skill to cultivate in yourself. While researching accountability tips and tricks, I tried many of them to see which ones fit in to my lifestyle and work style. Here are some of my favorites:
Rewards: Treats like candy or buying yourself a new pair of shoes can be a great motivator, but only after you have completed the task at hand. Set clear expectations for yourself. For example, I will order the shoes after I finish reading the next two chapters of my textbook. For me, this was most effective when I enlisted the help of my Dad. I gave him my credit card and instructed him not to give it back until I was finished.
Track Yourself with Apps: Set and record expectations to hold yourself and others accountable for certain tasks. Like many of you, I spend way too much time on my phone and setting myself reminders has been a good tool to make sure my goals are always on my mind.
Toggl- allows users to easily track the tasks they completed that day and track how much time was spent on it. This lets users know if they spend too much time on tasks that should not be time consuming.
StickK- You can bet a small amount of money that you will complete your goal. Record the tasks necessary to reach your goal, and a “referee” ( a friend, roommate or family member) will verify whether or not you actually completed the task. If your referee sees that you did not complete the task by your self-imposed deadline, you will lose the money and it will be donated to charity or sent to a friend you are betting against.
Trello- Connect with teammates and hold one another accountable for their assignments. The team leader can view everyone’s progress and assign tasks. Having teammates see my progress helps me stay accountable because it puts positive pressure on me.
Todoist- A customizable to do list. Connect this app to StickK so you can raise the stakes on the goals you set here.
Moodnotes- encourages the user to take time to reflect on their day. I use this at night and it gives me series of questions to answer that make me look back on the decisions I made that day and assess how I responded to the stress in my life. This helps me take a closer look at how I manged my time and emotions so I can make better choices and respond to everyday stressors better in the future. It can be very useful to mindfully take responsibility for my actions everyday.
Make your goals visible: Having visual reminders can help us remember why our tasks are important. It can be easier for many people to hold themselves accountable for completing a task when they remember the big picture and where this task at hand fits into their overall goals or larger purpose. For example, I am applying to medical school next year, so I have a note on my mirror that says “future doctor”. Seeing this every morning reminds me why the smaller tasks I need to complete matter and that they are directly related to my purpose. This makes me more likely to complete a biology chapter I put on my to-do list that day.
Final Thoughts: I have found that holding myself accountable can be very difficult and it is taking a lot of practice to build up this skill by consciously implementing it into my everyday life. I have found a lot of success when I relied on my support system of friends, family and team members to hold me accountable when I struggle to do it alone.
About the Author:
Hi, my name is Julia Caputo and I am a research intern here at EWAAB. I have always been amazed by science and technology. I am a biomedical engineering student from Queens, New York and I am entering my third year at Stevens Institute of Technology. On campus, I am passionately involved in the Society of Women Engineers and Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity. I recently got my Emergency Medical Technician license and I hope to go to medical school.