In January of 2022, I completed a goal that was years in the making. On the morning of my birthday, I took a walk on the beach. That may not sound like a big deal to you. For me, it was.
More than ten years ago, in 2011, I made the decision to “go solo” in my own practice. If you have your own practice, you understand how great the demands are on practice owners – especially during tax season.
A few years after going solo, I read The E-Myth Bookkeeper by Michael Gerber, Debbie Roberts, and Peter Cook (2014). The book opened an exciting door in my mind. The idea of having enough systemization in my work life to be able to take time off during tax season really appealed to me!
At the same time, I also realized that what I was doing in my business wasn’t traditional bookkeeping. At the time I didn’t know that QuickBooks training and financial business coaching were unusual, but I realized that they gave me more freedom than a traditional bookkeeper would have.
So, I made a goal for myself. I wanted to spend my birthday at the beach in Florida – and my birthday is in January!
It may have taken years, but I accomplished my goal just a few months ago. It took a lot of learning about goal setting, accountability and measuring success as well as deploying what I had learned, but I made it from just an exciting idea to reality.
And you can do the same.
Determine your goal.
Before you do anything, you need to determine your goal. My goal was inspired by reading The E-Myth Bookkeeper when Debbie Roberts stated that she could take time off from her bookkeeping practice during tax season without any worries.
My goal was to be able to work from someplace warm for my birthday. All goals have challenges and mine was no exception. I live in Colorado – the exact opposite of warm during the winter. And my birthday lands during my absolute busiest month.
Once I determined my goal and understood the general challenges to achieving it, there were questions I needed to answer.
What is the desired result?
Once you have thought about what your goal might be, you need to dig deeper. There are many different goal-setting methods, and you should find the one that works for you. Regardless of the method, you will need to analyze that goal from all angles to make sure it really is the goal that you want to and should be striving for.
I believe that it is important that your goal aligns with your personal and professional why’s. If not, you will struggle, and possibly fail, to achieve your goal.
Here is my why - I empower entrepreneurs to understand their numbers so they can make better decisions and have a more fulfilling life. My goal, to spend my busiest month on the beach in Florida, did align with my why. By achieving my goal, I was providing an example for my entrepreneurs that it is possible to run a business and have a fulfilling life.
What needs to be done to make it happen?
When you set a goal, you may be tempted to jump in and make it happen. But, before you do anything, you need to outline what you need to do to accomplish your goal. Remember to break the actions down into bite-sized pieces.
For example, I knew that to be able to work from Florida in January, I needed to put systems into place (both technology and processes). I also needed the ability to delegate work to someone else and I needed the ability to work remotely.
Based on the due date for reaching my goal, I tied each of those three needs to their own timelines. For example, prior to COVID, my business was managed 75% through Zoom. With my goal, I needed to transition all my clients to Zoom for all training and coaching. So, I set deadlines for transitioning each client to Zoom allowing me to meet my goal before January
What is the reward for meeting the goal?
Sometimes, meeting your goal can be the reward itself, but sometimes you will need to attach your goal to a reward that will motivate you. For me, my simple walk on the beach on my birthday was highly rewarding.
How can you be accountable for completing your goal?
It can be so easy to “decide” to do something and then never follow through. I had fallen into this trap before as well. That is why it is so important to have accountability.
Creating an accountability mindset can take a lot of education and coaching. It comes from knowing your value and valuing yourself. In addition, you must respect your own boundaries, knowing that you can trust the promises you make to yourself. Finally, setting (and following) priorities is key.
How did I make sure I was accountable for meeting my goal? I made my goal public; I announced it, especially to the accountability partners I enlisted. Then, I scheduled periodic check-ins with my accountability partners to make sure I was completing my action steps and meeting my deadlines.
My family, primarily my husband, supported me in reaching my goal, but I also enlisted other accounting professionals. First, two colleagues agreed to act as accountability partners – Nickie Stobbe and Lori Parkins. In addition, Woodard provides accountability opportunities through Woodard Institute.
As a Woodard Institute student, I was able to meet other professionals who also wanted to be held accountable. In addition, Woodard Institute holds weekly meetings for students called ACT – Accountability, Collaboration, and Traction. These meetings kept me on track throughout the entire process.
Being accountable to complete a goal means you also need to face your fear. You may think that your goal is going to be hard to accomplish. But keep in mind that easy just means you have done it before. Think of hard as just something that you haven’t done before or haven’t done enough times.
For me, my fear showed up in procrastination. I became really good at making excuses for myself as to why I couldn’t systemize, delegate, or otherwise afford to take a risk.
And that is exactly why accountability partners are so valuable! They give you courage.
What will success mean?
It is important to be able to measure your success, and it is also important to define your goal (and reward) in as tangible a way as you can. Once you have defined your measure of success for achieving your goal, don’t move the line. In other words, do not add to the original goal and extend your timeline. Instead, you can define goals to meet later, after you reach your initial goal.
For me, once I defined my goal and reward, I then spent a lot of time anticipating exactly how it would look and feel to take my birthday walk on the beach in January.
Celebrating the Win
It turns out that my reward ended up not being quite like I had anticipated. My husband and I arrived in the middle of the coldest week that Florida had experienced in a while. On the drive to the beach, we needed to stop at a locally owned coffee shop for hot drinks because it was so cold. In fact, the water was warmer than the air!
But I didn’t care that the weather wasn’t perfect. I was there! On the beach and the sun was on my face. In Colorado, it was a high of 37 degrees F that day. I won and I celebrated!
So, when you achieve a goal, don’t let yourself be pulled away from simply being in the moment. Banish your concerns, know that everything is in its place, and just unplug.
Trust in yourself, trust the systems you put in place in meeting your goal. And celebrate your win.
This is me on the beach on my birthday - jacket on and hot drink in hand.