Whipping up a dream is easy. Mix a dash of confidence, passion, and imagination to taste — and Voilá! You have a dream! Now, how will you use it?

Sometimes, we treat our goals like forgotten leftovers. After making them, we have a helping and store the rest in the fridge for later. When we aren’t careful, the next time we acknowledge them is only to throw them away. Whether you like to write them on a sticky note or say a mantra as a daily reminder of your goals, you must increase their visibility. Otherwise, they’ll be neglected and ultimately, wasted.

Lucky for you and me, goals never expire. No matter how much time has passed since your last step forward, you can always pick up where you left off. You may have to tweak your goal to account for lost time and new circumstances, or you can mix up a new one from scratch.

This time around, place your goals front and center. Build them into your lifestyle and daily routine in small ways to work towards your goals every day. The efforts you take to hold yourself accountable to today’s goals will soon develop into the habits that make more and more of your dreams come true.

Best Ways to Improve Goal Accountability

  1. Identify a Support System/Community

Having support is key to achieving any goal, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach to accountability. Some people may benefit from having a colleague to exchange reminders, encouragement, and professional development opportunities. Accountability partners may also be friends or family members with whom you share your goals and progress. Be honest with your support system about how they can help you stay on track. You may be surprised by their willingness to pour into you.

Another way to use your network to be accountable for your goals is by putting yourself out there and meeting new people. Start by exploring your local community or go online for relevant social clubs, professional organizations, or discussions you may want to join. These focus-driven communities are a great place to build relationships, share and receive information, and be inspired.

2. Set Short-Term Goals

Long-term goals can take months or years to show significant progress, and it is not uncommon to lose momentum. Keep your eye on the prize and your motivation high with intermediate goals that get you closer to the finish line. Be thoughtful and creative in developing your short-term goals. They can make your big-picture goals more manageable and increase your chance of success.

For example, you’ve set a goal to be more active. Great! Intermediate goals that may help you commit to that overarching goal include buying a quality pair of sneakers, getting a gym membership or personal trainer, scheduling a physical with your doctor, or researching different exercise techniques. These foundational goals push you to invest money, time, and action into your dreams.

3. Routinely Check Your Progress

Tracking your goal progress should be a regular part of your schedule. You can do it daily, weekly, monthly, or annually. Take into consideration your action plan and target achievement date. Use check-ins to assess whether your goals are still feasible and desirable. Ask yourself:

  • Am I on track?
  • Am I pleased with my progress?
  • Is my goal still feasible?
  • What changes can I make to improve my progress?
  • How can my support system help me achieve the progress I want to see?
  • What do I need to accomplish before the next progress check?
  • What accomplishment can I celebrate today?

4. Celebrate Milestones

Big and small wins deserve a celebration, and while achieving your goal is the ultimate prize you are working toward, the progress you make toward your goal should also be worth celebrating. Some visions are monumental and take years to achieve, but even small personal ones can require us to climb tall mountains. Along the way, you grow, change habits, improve perspectives, and become a happier person, which sounds like more than enough reason to celebrate, and doing so gives you something tangible to look forward to on the way to your dreams.