To be accountable, a good plan foundation includes knowing where you want to go, setting goals and evaluating if the choices you have made along the way were the right ones.

Companies may call these activities: strategic planning, year-end financial reviews, performance reviews or personal development plans. These processes are not limited to companies; consider incorporating them into your personal life to assist in fulfilling your dreams.

Your Personal Strategic Plan

Sometimes people get hung up on thinking they have to see or know the end game before they can take action. The lack of vision paralyzes them. If your friends or colleagues are telling you that you must know where you will be in 5 years and you are struggling to see it – you are not alone.

How can you visualize the future when you are dealing with the here and now? It can be difficult to see the vision and forcing you to do it first will stop your progress.

Rarely does a plan which is formulated actually pan out the way it was first visualized. Don’t sweat it. Break it down. Make it easy. Realize it will change. It does not have to be perfect.

Your Financial Review

A financial review includes your budget and total financial picture. The budget is your month to month income and expenditures while taking a look at your overall financial health will guide you in decisions about your personal planning process.

If you are facing little to no income, it is time to take a hard look at cutting back those “extras” that creep into your spending habits. Ask yourself: what would I do without this item or service?

Is it essential for me to maintain the same level of service or buy that item now? Will this investment further my personal goals or is it an impulse item that might make me feel good?

Resist the temptation to indulge or get caught up in instant gratification by waiting 24 hours before making a decision.

Conduct a year-end review of your financial portfolio and make changes to balance it out.  Your financial portfolio includes short term and long term assets, insurance coverage (medical/life/disability/property).

Your financial review helps to establish your budget, investment and spending decisions for the upcoming year.

Your Personal Performance Review

A personal performance review is where you hold yourself accountable for what you say you want to do. Sit down and evaluate how well you did against the goals you set for last year.

Your personal performance review may be done privately without anyone else involved or you may want to discuss it with an interested party – your spouse, friend, colleague, advisor or coach.

The likelihood of attaining your goals increases dramatically when you involve a third party – especially if you use periodic reviews during the year.

If this is your first time setting personal goals, read on.

Goal setting may be financial, personal or business related – there is no right combination. The goals you select will reflect what you want to work on over the coming year.

To set a goal, it is important to know your starting point. If you goal is financially related, your financial review will generate it. Business related or personal goals may take a little more work. Here is a general performance check list to help you out.

Create measurable outcomes for your goals. If you are fuzzy about the results you want – chances are you will not get there. It is hard to hold yourself accountable for something that is not clear.

Keep the number of goals to a minimum – the more you have, the tougher it will be to meet them.

Personal Development Plan

Once you have established your starting point and goals, you may feel a little overwhelmed. How are you going to get there? This is where your personal development plan comes in to help you out.

The gap between where you are and where you want to go represents your personal development opportunities. To achieve your plan, you may need to:

  • Learn new skills
  • Replace bad behaviors with good behaviors
  • Fine tune your budget
  • Make a career change
  • Ask for help
  • Modify your approach
  • Re-invent yourself
  • Make dramatic cuts or changes in areas that are in trouble

The tendency is to work on too many things at once. Consider selecting three things to work on over the course of the year which will impact your ability to reach the goals you have set.

The Secret to Accountability

It is important to write out your goals and plans to reach them. The act of committing your thoughts to paper is the first step in holding yourself accountable. It might be difficult to do in one sitting. Allow yourself a couple of drafts and give yourself a due date for completion. If you find yourself languishing, consider a sounding board.

Review your progress against the goals at least four times a year. It is far easier to get yourself back on track or to overcome the obstacles when you deal with them. Ignoring your lack of progress through the year will only mean failure. Sometimes goals have to be adjusted or you have to find other resources to help you.

If you are not good about doing these steps on your own and you have strong desire to be successful, you have to find and let someone hold you accountable. It should be someone who is not personally involved with you such as a spouse or close friend.

Paying for a personal or business coach to hold you accountable is a viable solution because they will look at things more objectively. Why pay when you can get it for free? When you reach into your pocket, the level of commitment and follow through increases because you are invested in achieving the results.