This is a time of year when many decide to shift habits with the best of intentions, but unfortunately good intentions alone won’t do the job. Ingrained habits need more than a nudge to bust through in favor of replacing them with those that will support us with where we want to go. One powerful tool that will help you go the distance is accountability. The acronym SMART comes to mind — Specific, Measurable, Action, Relevant, and Time-based; and all that is true. A way to manage all of that is by creating a simple accountability matrix that you review and track daily; it only takes a few minutes.
Marshall Goldsmith is one of (if not THE) most successful and sought after executive coaches in the world, and in his excellent book “Triggers: Creating Behavior that Lasts: Becoming the Person You Want to Be” Marshall shares many practical tools and tips to help you achieve your desired results. Perhaps my favorite, and one of the most practical and powerful tools, is what I’ll call an accountability matrix to track your progress towards your goals and new habits on a daily basis. It only takes a few minutes but if you pause daily and weekly to reflect on the results you’ve tracked at-a-glance against your intentions, patterns start to reveal themselves and the facts tell the real story.
Basically you create a spreadsheet for yourself and decide what specific things you want to track — like did you get your exercise, did you get enough sleep, were you mindful that day, were you kind to others. It’s a simple tool but it turns out it’s not easy for many to remain committed to tracking these metrics daily. Marshall himself pays someone to call him every day to ask powerful questions and review the matrix results with him. That may be extreme, but can be helpful to reinforce your efforts.
Try it for yourself — I’m doing it as well — for at least 30 days, and you may surprise yourself either with how things in your life are shifting or getting a reality check on your commitments (yay or nay).