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How to get your goals back on track

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Lost your way and didn’t quite achieve what you wanted to on a recent goal or project? Don’t panic. Here’s how to get back on track.

First. Take responsibility

Taking more responsibility means less excuses for our choices and actions.

People who resort to excuses (middle child, rough childhood, bad hair day) often fail because they back off when the going gets tough.

When the project flops or the budget gets blown, these folks tend to reach for a ready-made excuse or for someone else to blame.

The truth is, excuses are a cop out.

  • "Sorry, I didn’t call you back.”
  • "It's never been done before."
  • "I don't think our customers will go for that.”
  • "We'll get back to you about it."

If we’re completely honest, an excuse is really a failure to take responsibility for our choices and actions.

By contrast, taking responsibility is the equivalent of saying: “I’ve got this, and if it doesn’t work out, the buck stops with me.”

There’s a moment in the Oscar-winning film Argo when the hero, Tony Mendez, takes responsibility and puts his life on the line to save the lives of six US diplomats.

Set in 1980, the film depicts the diplomatic crisis between Iran and the US in which 52 Americans were held captive in Tehran, following Iran’s Islamic revolution.

Mendez takes responsibility when nobody else will do so. The circumstances have changed. The orders have changed. Everything has changed, but Mendez had promised six people that he’d get them safely home and he follows through on that commitment

Being a leader

Authentic leadership is the alternative to an excuse-driven life because true leaders accept the responsibilities (and privileges) that go with the job.

They agree to be held accountable for the consequences of their actions, both intended and unintended.

Of course, we don’t need to be a chief executive to be more accountable. We can exercise accountability in all areas of life – as students, colleagues, neighbours, friends, partners and parents.

Imagine what life could be like if we focused on a little more accountability instead of fearing failure and ways to blame others?

5 ways to get back on track

As a start, why not make a list of five specific areas where you will step into a little more accountability and get back on track to achieve what you set out to. 

1. Start small

Becoming more responsible works best when you start with small issues. This helps to build positive momentum. Before you know it, being more responsible will make you feel good and add value to your day

2. Don’t play the blame game

Blaming others is easy. As adults, the bottom line is that we make our choices and no one else is responsible for them. If you want things to be different then you have to acknowledge your choices, your actions and their consequences

3. Be proactive

Sometimes you can’t wait for someone else to give you the green light. Take initiative and do what needs to be done before someone asks you to do it. Start by identifying tasks that are falling through the cracks and completing them. Foresight is always appreciated

4. Acknowledge mistakes and learn from them

No one is perfect. Making mistakes and acknowledging them is part of the learning process. Children are adept at learning because they don’t view mistakes as fatal errors, just opportunities to learn.

5. Make clear agreements and review them

Making clear, achievable agreements with yourself and others is crucial for being accountable. Make sure that your agreements are realistic and that you have access to sufficient time and resources to keep them