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Accountability. Think of the word "accountable." It means to "give an account." When someone knows what your goals are, they help hold you accountable. Whether it is someone else going through this program with you (have you thought about inviting a friend to join you on this one-year journey?) or just someone you can give the basic idea to, having a person who can hold you accountable will give you another added boost to getting your goals! This week we will show you how to set up an accountability partner.

Accountability (a contract with yourself or someone else) is a vital key in the goal-setting process. In those early days Mr. Shoaff held me accountable for my progress on the goals I had set. He asked those hard questions that helped motivate me to continuously work on achieving my dreams. Accountability puts some teeth into the process. If a goal is set and only one person knows it, does it really have any power? Many times it doesn't. At the very least, it isn't as powerful as if you have one or more people who can hold you accountable to your goal.

Think of the word "accountable." Webster defines it as, "liable to being called to account; answerable." In other words, it means to give an account of your actions to yourself or another person. Accountability is a very broad word, yet accountability is essentially follow-up. When someone knows what your goals are, they follow up and hold you accountable by asking you to "give an account" of where you are in the process of achieving that goal. Human nature is such that when we know someone else is going to ask us about it, we are much more motivated to get it done. If for no other reason we don 't want to look lazy and uncommitted to those we are accountable to! This is why having an accountability partner is so important. Whether it is someone else going through this program with you, (have you thought about inviting a friend to join you on this one-year journey?) or just someone who you can give the basic idea to; having a place of accountability will give you another added boost to achieving your goals!

In the basic sense, there are two kinds of accountability: internal and external. Internal accountability is essentially the level of integrity you maintain not only throughout the evaluation process but also in life. It means that when you look at yourself, you judge yourself with honesty. This is where you hold yourself accountable to doing what you said you would do. If you've messed up, say, "I've messed up", but if you've done well then you can celebrate your progress. Let the internal accountability prod you and spur you on to greater action in pursuit of your achievements.

So first and foremost, it is our responsibility to hold ourselves accountable. We answer to ourselves. We take charge of ourselves. How do we do that? Here are a few ideas on how to hold yourself accountable:

1. Write down your goals so they become "objective." You can't go back and say, "That wasn't really my goal."

2. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself when you assess whether or not you have met the goal (of course, if you were specific in your S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting (S.M.A.R.T. means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time- sensitive.), you won't have much wiggle room here anyway).

3. If you fall short of your goal, or if you are falling short while on the way, knuckle down and hold yourself accountable to do what it takes to make up the ground so that you can hit that goal! 4. Set a time frame in which you will evaluate your progress and hold yourself accountable.

The second aspect of accountability is that it is external. Find someone else or a group of others to hold you accountable. When we commit to giving an account to someone else for our actions and goals, we take it to the next level. Now let me say that the external part of accountability will not work without the internal aspect. If you are not honest with yourself, then you will probably not be honest with others. Asking someone to hold you accountable and then knowing you won't be completely honest with them will never work. In fact, Howard Hendricks used to have a series of accountability questions that went something like this: Have you done "A"? Have you done "B"? Have you done "C"? Now, have you told the truth on the first three questions? That is a good series of questions to ask!

Having an accountability partner or an outside source of accountability is a powerful force if done right. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you set up an accountability partner:

2. Tell them specifically what your goals are. 3. Commit to being honest with them. 4. Give them permission to speak both words of encouragement, as well as words of challenge when the situation calls for it. 5. Agree on a reasonable time frame in which you will allow them to evaluate your progress and hold you accountable. 6. Follow up on their words when they challenge you or call you to action.

Accountability can be a tremendous thing. There is an old proverb that says one can put a thousand to flight, but two can put ten thousand to flight. When we have someone holding us accountable, we bring others onto our team who will make us stronger, who will make us soar higher, and who will cause our lives to be much richer because of their involvement.

Take a moment and really consider who you will make yourself accountable to in the pursuit of your goals. Now, go back through the words above and begin to work this process out in your own life. You will be extraordinarily glad you did!

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