A few years ago, we shared five reasons why you should set goals in community. It's a gem of a post and exemplifies so much of what we love about the Cultivate community. It really is better when we grow together!
Today, we're diving deeper into this topic and sharing six ways you can add community and accountability to your goals. We're talking about why surrounding yourself with community is so important, how accountability is like fertilizer for your goals, and some practical ways to add more of both to your life as a goal-getter.
Why are community and accountability so important in goal setting?
Humans are social creatures, and the communities we surround ourselves with have an impact on the progress we make on our goals. Most people don’t need a reason to do what everyone around them is doing, right? But when you’re trying to get different results than you’ve gotten in the past, or different results than the people around you? That’s when like-minded community is key.
Research backs the idea that the people you spend time with impact the progress you’ll make: meta-analysis has suggested that goal setting is more effective when done publicly or with a group. Just like it’s hard to develop good habits in a negative environment, it’s hard to change a behavior when you’re surrounded by people still engaging in it.
On the other hand, one of the best ways to make adopting a behavior more likely is to join a community already succeeding at it. If you see other people achieving the habit you want to adopt—if achieving the behavior is the norm instead of the exception—it’s easier to believe you can do the same thing. We want to fit in with the people around us!
It follows that if fitting in with the group requires changing our behavior, change suddenly becomes much easier. (For example, when you see your fellow PowerSheets® users filling out their Tending Lists on the 25th of the month, you’re more likely to pull out your own set and make a plan for the month ahead!)
Cultivators know it’s better when we grow together. It's worth a little effort to find ways to spend time with people who are going in the direction you want to go, whether they're equally-motivated goal setters or people who are succeeding at the particular goal you're hoping to achieve.
6 Ways to Add Community and Accountability to Your Goals
Whether you love a cheerleading section or prefer to go it alone, there’s a way to take advantage of the power of other people to help you go further, faster.
1. Share your goals with a friend.
Try telling just one person about your goal: a significant other, your child, a roommate, a friend, your mom. Just the simple act of regularly sharing a goal with someone else is a powerful spur to prepare well for each month, breaking your big goals down into smaller action steps and committing to a thoughtful plan for the next few weeks.
This can look like texting a friend a photo of your completed Tending List. It can look like meeting up to complete your PowerSheets together. It can look like asking your spouse to set a reminder in his phone to ask you about your monthly goals on the first of each month.
If a confidante doesn't jump to mind, head over to the PowerSheets® Facebook Group and share what you’re working on there. We guarantee you’ll find women excited to cheer you on from the 20,000+ goal-setting members!
2. Join an existing group or meet-up.
Starting a group from scratch comes with lots of logistical hurdles, and therefore takes lots of activation energy. Instead, see if there's an already-established group nearby that could help you achieve your goals! Is there a local run club that works with your schedule? A book club that meets monthly? A moms group that meets up at a park every other week?
There are so many benefits from attending a group regularly, from watching others model your desired behaviors to picking up relevant tips, making like-minded friends, and sharing the burden of making plans. Bonus: once you're a regular attendee, others will likely check in on you if you don't show up—one more way to take advantage of accountability! :)
3. Set a standing date.
Is your goal a little more niche? Does your schedule have less give? Take the initiative to set up a standing date with one or more friends and complete a goal action step together. For example, you and a friend might commit to meeting once a week to take a workout class, go for a walk, clean out a room in your house, draft a meal plan, or work on a photo album—the sky's the limit!
Knowing someone is depending on you makes it less likely you'll back out (and it's more fun, too!).
4. Check in with a friend.
Finding an accountability partner is a goal-setting classic for a reason: when we know someone is watching, we’re more likely to stay the course (and an extra cheerleader never hurts, either!).
Accountability comes in many forms. For example, let's say you and a friend are both trying to hit 10k steps a day. You text each other when you hit 5k, which spurs you to catch up if you haven't hit that milestone yet.
This works for any habit you're trying to develop, as well as for action steps toward a longer goal, but it works particularly well for developing daily habits. Just a simple text (even a single emoji!) once a day keeps your commitment top of mind, gives you the comforting reminder that someone else is in it with you, and provides additional fire to keep going.
5. Ask for help.
It’s easy to feel like you have to go it alone in goal setting, but that’s often not true. Others are ready and willing to support you in cultivating what matters!
Some ideas to consider:
- You have a goal to cut down on online shopping. You ask your roommate to hold onto your wallet in the evenings.
- You have a goal to connect with your children in the mornings. You ask your spouse to pack the kids’ backpacks so you can read a story.
- You have a goal to find a church home and ask a friend to visit a new service with you.
- You have a goal to bring more salads for lunch and ask your coworker to celebrate with you every time she sees you eating leafy greens.
Whether your friends and family are providing practical help or emotional support, leaning on those closest to you can not only help you achieve your goals, but allow them to serve you in a way that brings you closer together. Win-win!
6. Get a little competitive.
We think of comparison as icky, right? And in many ways, it is! But some goal setters are highly motivated by a little healthy competition, and social comparison—making yourself aware of the performance of others so you can compare it to your own—can channel this impulse for good by motivating you to match others’ behaviors more closely.
- You have a goal to work out more frequently. You compare the number of minutes you’ve logged each month with your brothers and sisters.
- You have a goal to spend more time outside. You compare the hours you’ve spent in the sunshine each month with other members of the 1000 Hours Outside community.
- You have a goal to spend less time on your phone. You ask a friend who has the same goal to compare screen time stats each week.
How might a little healthy competition fire you up to stick to your habits and goals?
Trying to live differently than the people around you, especially if they’re not supportive of your efforts, can feel very lonely. But it doesn't have to be that way. With a little intentional effort and a willingness to be the one who reaches out to others, you can surround your goal setting with community and accountability. It's the Cultivated way ;)
We'd love to hear: how have you put accountability or community to good use in your goal setting? Let us know in the comments!