Productivity

Got Goals? Tap into the Power of Accountability

two women having a friendly conversation in a coffee shop

According to research from the University of Scranton, 92% of people who set New Year’s goals don’t achieve them.

Looking at that statistic, it’s easy to get discouraged. But let’s consider the other 8% for a moment—the people who actually do achieve their goals. What makes them so special? What exactly are they doing differently from the rest of us?

The answer is multi-faceted. In truth, these goal-getters use a variety of strategies and techniques to keep them focused, on track and motivated.

However, if we had to define the single most important thing they do, we might boil it down to this: People who consistently achieve their goals know how to tap into the power of accountability.

Below, you’ll learn why accountability is so important and how you can leverage it to attain your own goals.


Also read: Goal Setting at Work: 3 Things to Discuss with Your Boss First


First, the facts: A few years ago, the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) found that you have a 65% chance of completing a goal if you make a commitment to someone about it. That’s not bad! And it certainly supports the idea that accountability is crucial.

But the research didn’t stop there. Incredibly, it showed that you can boost your chances of success up to 95% if you have a specific accountability appointment with a person to whom you’ve made a commitment.

Full, green coffee cup sitting on a napkin that says, "A goal without a plan is just a wish."

A 95% chance of success! That’s astounding. If you could achieve 95% of your goals this year, what might be possible?

This groundbreaking research highlights two must-do items for anyone who is serious about achieving their goals:

  • Commit to someone else about your goals. It’s not enough to commit to yourself. For some reason, it seems that most of us would sooner let ourselves down than we would someone else. We happily buy our own excuses, but we wouldn’t dare try to sell them to others. So, you need an outside person—be it your spouse, your boss, your sister, or even the people who read your blog or follow you on Instagram. Though the research doesn’t specifically state this, it’s probably a good idea to make sure these are people who are supportive, encouraging and want to see you succeed.
  • Set an accountability appointment with that person or those people to whom you committed. Establish exactly what actions you will take to achieve your goal and then determine when you will check in with your partner(s) about it. This gives you a clear target and a deadline. It also gives you external pressure. You now have a consequence if you don’t follow through—you have to face this person or group of people and admit your failure. No one wants to do that! The ego will do almost anything to protect itself. By setting the check-in appointment, you create a social expectation, which is a powerful driver to keep you on track.

If you want to be one of the 8% of people who actually achieve their goals this year, you have to take real steps to make it happen. But you don’t have to do it on your own. In fact, this research proves that it’s much more effective to include others. Give your accountability partners permission to hold your feet to the fire. You may find that this simple strategy is all you need to help you achieve your biggest goals.

About the Author

Chrissy Scivicque is a career coach, corporate trainer and public speaker who believes work can be a nourishing part of the life experience. Her website, Eat Your Career, is devoted to this mission. Chrissy is currently a contributing career expert for U.S. News & World Report and the author of the book, The Proactive Professional: How to Stop Playing Catch Up and Start Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life!), available on Amazon.