Do you like to set goals? I do and I always have. As a kid, my goals were along the lines of, “I want have ice cream as quickly possible, and as much as possible.” They’ve become a little more nuanced since then. But I still love to set them. I like the feeling of forward momentum that setting a goal brings to my life. I like the sense of clarity, of vision, and of fulfilling a mission that God has called me to. It helps keep me on track.
However, sometimes we all fall short of our finish line. The best intentions get waylaid, by multiple competing interests, by an extremely long “To-Do” list, or sometimes just by good old-fashioned procrastination.
I want to share with you a powerful secret to staying on track with your goals.
It is an accountability group.
Accountability groups exist in many different shapes and forms. From triathalon groups to Alcoholics Anonymous to business Mastermind groups, the idea is the same: together, we can encourage one another to achieve more than each of us can alone.
It is a powerful dynamic that you can apply to your own life.
Here are some key ingredients to forming an accountability group to keep you on track with your life goals:
1. Numbers: three or more. An ideal synergy for a group is three to eight people. More than that, and the individual voices get lost. Less than that can make it more tempting to postpone or reschedule the meeting.
2. Account. Your accountability group must have a way of measuring, or accounting for, the goals you are each striving towards. Metrics are a powerful, concrete way to see how you are making progress. It provides immediate feedback as to how effective you are, and provides valuable information as to whether you need to change your the approach you’re taking towards your goal.
3. Consistency. It can be intimidating to start up a group. Are we doing this for the rest of our lives? So start off in a do-able way: “Let’s meet every month for 6 months, and re-evaluate at that time.” A one month time frame is a good maximum time between visits to aim for: less frequently, and the group may lose focus.
4. Create an agenda. You want to be intentional in your accountability group. This helps people stay on task, and also adds to the sense of ownership for the group. You may use a simple agenda-preparation form and have one person email it out to the group a week before the meeting. In it, you can ask everyone to email their replies to these question: What are the goals or challenges I want to discuss at the next meeting? What wins or progress have I made since the last meeting?
This week’s self-reflection: Am I truly a self-motivator, or can I reach my goals even more effectively through a group keeping me accountable? Can I, too, become a great encourager to others through such a group?
This week’s call to action: Think of three people who you would like to encourage, and who you feel could encourage you. Pray about them! In the next month, commit to getting in touch with them, and suggest to them the idea of an accountability group. Brainstorm together about goals you’d like to reach, and how effective you could be in helping one another reach those goals.