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How to hold yourself accountable to your goals

The New Year, New Me motivation can start to waver at this time of year. Here's how you can stop that from happening.

The first quarter of the year is coming to a close, which makes now the perfect time to reflect on our goals and how far we have come since our New Year’s resolutions.

Even if you didn’t make any resolutions this year, chances are you had some things you wanted to do in 2019—like travel abroad, eat healthier, exercise more or complete a long-overdue personal project you’ve been putting off.

Like most things, it can be hard to stick to your goals when the year promises so much time. But if something is truly important to you, holding yourself accountable is the only way you can finally tick it off your list. Whatever your goals are this year, staying on track is crucial!

Here are some ways to help keep yourself accountable:

Get into the right mindset

During the New Year, our mindset is geared toward change—every day feels like a new opportunity to be a better version of ourselves. But as time goes by, we can lose that mindset and get distracted by the daily rituals of life. Maybe you’re not working on your side hustle as much or making excuses to get out of your Tuesday night yoga class. It’s important to be mindful and see these instances as a change in your mindset, tackling them before they start to turn into the bad habits that held you back in the previous year.

To get back in the right mindset, remind yourself why you set your goal in the first place. For example, instead of saying “I have to go to my yoga class today”, say to yourself “If I go to my yoga class, I’ll feel happier with myself and have a great start to the week”. Remind yourself of the “why” every time you don’t feel up to doing something you set out to do and this will hopefully give you that extra push you need.

Be prepared in advance

When we aren’t organised we tend to make decisions on the fly and sometimes do things out of convenience. If you prepare yourself with the expectation that you will get things done, you’re more likely to get them done. For example, if you prefer to workout in the morning it’s much easier to get into it if you have all your workout clothes set up and your gym bag packed the night before.

Having everything ready will make it easier to get yourself to workout, and will put you in the mindset that you will workout. Preparation also works for your nutrition goals too — meal prep makes it less likely that you’ll resort to takeout after a workday or eat unhealthy snacks as a substitute.

Listen to motivational videos

Motivational speeches aren’t everybody’s thing—they certainly weren’t mine, until I made it my mission to work out every day. As someone who hates exercise, I have avoided doing it in the past, but this year I wanted to make it a priority. I find it much easier to get through a work out when listening to these types of videos, because exercise takes as much if not more mental strength than physical strength. Plus, it’s a lot easier to listen to someone else say the things you need to hear, than trying to tell them to yourself!

You’d be surprised how many motivational videos are available on YouTube that can help you get through things you really don’t want to do, from studying to cleaning and (of course) working out.

Cultivate conscientiousness

Conscientiousness is a personality trait that implies diligence and a desire to complete tasks. Conscientious people tend to be efficient and organised as opposed to easy-going and disorderly. They exhibit a tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully and aim for achievement.

Even if you do not naturally gravitate toward exhibiting this personality type, you can still cultivate it and use it to help you achieve your goals. Harvard Health states that while personality is ingrained “that doesn’t mean that we can’t tinker with the tendencies in our beliefs and behaviors. And the first step could be just being a little more aware of personality and its possible effects”. The article also states that focusing on specifics, making daily plans, using reminders and staying social can all help us be more conscientious in practice.

Set small goals every day or week

Big projects and commitments can be hard to visualise and reframe into daily tasks. It’s easy to put things off for tomorrow or next week when they’re too overwhelming. However, having small goals every day or week can help you slowly get closer to where you want to be.

Use apps to help you track your progress

Too many apps can be more hinderance than help, but you might find an app or two that are useful for a specific purpose. Food trackers like My Fitness Pal or fitness tracker Map My Walk are popular examples of apps that can hold you accountable to your health—or if your goal is to read more books you could use Goodreads or Bookly, both are a great way to track your reading progress. There’s an app essentially for everything, so try one and see if it works for you.

Have alternative plans

Being realistic when making your goals is very important, because life does get in the way sometimes (which doesn’t have to be a bad thing). There will be times when you want to go out for dinner with friends instead of eating your pre-planned meal. Make sure you have a plan B in place, like opting for healthier alternatives (think balanced meals of over pizza or burgers) when you do go out.

Or if it’s raining during your regular morning run, do a YouTube workout at home instead. Be flexible but firm with yourself and you’ll find it much easier to work towards your goals.

These are just a few ways you can motivate yourself to stay on track. What do you do to keep yourself accountable?

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