To Hit Your Goals, Get Help Find an accountability partner to learn where you can improve and how far you've come.

By Poornima Vijayashanker

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

While everyone is obsessed with resolutions this time of year, I avoid them. I find that they often conflict with business goals, so inevitably I break them before spring rolls in.

Instead, I think it's important to see how far I've come in just one year. So once a year, I'll list out what I've accomplished, and I'll dig into what made those accomplishments possible. For me, having accountability partners who could coach me where it counted made all the difference.

Why it's hard to accomplish things on your own. As I look back at 2014, and take stock of all the work I've done, such as giving my first TEDx talk and self-publishing my first book, I noticed that in pursuing both those goals, I hit some very real mental roadblocks. For the first time, in a long time, I was nervous about speaking on stage. With my book, I was concerned about finishing it on time, and making sure making sure readers would find it useful and motivate them to bring their ideas to life.

During each project I has a serious case of self-doubt and felt really stuck. I didn't want to give up, but I wasn't sure how I'd overcome those mental roadblocks, so I decided to get some help.

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How accountability partners help. For my TEDx talk, I hired a speech coach, Jeffrey Davis, who improved my stage presence and helped me keep my delivery concise and clear. While my editor, Nathalie Arbel, and Nathan Barry helped me refine, promote, and self-publish my book. Thanks to these amazing partners, I not only pushed past my mental roadblocks, but their guidance got me to the next level.

These folks were more than mentors. They were accountability partners. The difference is that they don't just guide you like a mentor would, they have a vested interest in seeing you succeed, because it's their job to make sure you do!

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Find your accountability partner. While my accountability partners were professionals, that's not always necessary to keep you accountable and help you get to the next level. Good friends or mentors can also perform this role. Ideally, the best partners are people you trust and who can be honest with you and want you to succeed. These people are invested in discussing new approaches with you, and know that what's worked for them might not work for you.

How to make this partnership work:

  1. Tell them your goals. Focus on 1-2 goals, and tell your partners why you think you cannot accomplish those goals on your own. What are your mental roadblocks or resource constraints? What's holding you back? What do you need that only they can give you?
  2. Ask for feedback in a specific area. There might be 1,001 things you need to work on, but knowing everything at once can overwhelm you. Have your partners set one or two priorities for you.
  3. Have them catch you in the act. Sometimes when people give us feedback, we don't get it. But if partners catch us doing something wrong, then it makes it clear what we're doing wrong. I always prompt readers to tell me when my posts are too long winded, for example. Having concrete examples helps. So if you need help with a presentation, do a run-through for them or at least let them comment on a draft of your speech.
  4. Check in regularly. Everyone gets busy, including our accountability partners. Set up a 15-20 minute check-in either once a week or bi-monthly. Use this time to review what is and isn't working and why. If that's not possible, then use a feedback form or email exchange.

Now I want to know, who held you accountable in 2014, and what goals were you able to accomplish? Do you have additional techniques you'd like to add to the list above? Let me know in the comments below.

Poornima Vijayashanker

Founder of Femgineer

Poornima Vijayashanker is the founder of Femgineer, an education services company dedicated to helping tech professionals and entrepreneurs better themselves in product development, communication, and leadership.

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