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The Psychology Of Goal-Setting: Making Resolutions Stick, Part 2

0584332001569960214.jpgLast week, I wrote about the basics of goal-setting. Click here to read part one of this series. 

Does the mere word leave you in a quivering puddle? Or maybe have you digging in your heels in defiance at the thought of it?

How about this one: reward.

"Reward" sounds a bit better, no? 

Here's the catch. Accountability and reward work best as a team. Together, they form the second key to making your New Year's resolutions stick. Accountability and reward are all about follow-through. And follow-through is what transforms good intentions into reality. Stay tuned for part three of this series for more on how to leverage a reward system for shoring up your goal-achieving mojo.

Though many shy away from it, accountability can be your best friend when it comes to goal achievement. The idea of answering to someone (or some system) can feel off-putting, particularly to those who prefer to answer only to themselves. Without it, though, your natural tendency is to do nothing. To maintain the status quo.

Think of homeostasis -- the natural tendency for living systems to maintain the status quo -- as your most bitter foe. To change and to move forward, human beings need a reason. That reason regularly comes in the form of discomfort. That discomfort, however, needs to be at the right level. Too little, and there will be no movement. Too much, and it will feel like a punishment.

By building in an accountability system, you create discomfort. It's that ever-present murmur at the back of your mind whispering "I don't want to exercise today, but I don't want to have to admit that to my accountability partner next Monday." With a human accountability partner, the idea of having to admit defeat may trump your reluctance to exercise.  That is a lot more challenging if the only one to whom you are admitting defeat is yourself. It can be far too easy -- and far too tempting -- to cut yourself a break, especially when you're at the beginning of the change process.
Accountability partners may come in the form of a friend or family member. Perhaps you work better with anonymous people in an online group. Both of these options can work, and they can work quite well.

What will your accountability system look like? If you haven't already, set it up today and you will be one step closer to achieving your goal.

Perhaps your goals are more complex than that of the average resolution-maker or too personal to share online or with a friend. Professional support can be that make-it-or-break-it factor in these cases. If you've enacted the advice in this article series, but still find yourself struggling, or if you feel so stuck that you can't even get yourself to start, there is hope. Give me a call or complete my contact form, and we'll get there. Together.

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