Sharpened by Iron

"Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed."--Prov. 15:22 Last week, my husband and I made a one-day trip up to Sacramento to get our adoption dossier certified. We headed out in the pitch black of 4:00 a.m., reached our destination by 10:00 and completed our errand by 11:00. After lunch with a good friend (which made our trip a lot more fun!), we turned our car around and headed back for another 6 hour trip back to our waiting kids. It was gruelling, but to be honest, I enjoyed having my husband to myself for the whole day.

Along the way, we had plenty of time to talk. One of the things we talked about was about our personal goals for the year. I greatly admire my husband's ability to accomplish big projects. It may not be done quickly, but he gets the important things done. There are times when the stress does show, but on the whole, I see that his life is marked by commitment to the bigger things in life. When the kids ask him to play, he may not be able to do so right away or play for very long, but he does. With a full time job and an active role in our home, I was curious to know his secrets.

One of the things that stood out among the many things he shared with me that morning was the importance of accountability. It's one thing to set goals, but if I am the only one that knows about them, then I can just bail out and no one would be the wiser. For him, he shared that he is required to write goals as a part of his personal growth as a pastor, and that his supervising pastor actually checks up on him! Whoa. I had never thought about that before. I thought that my goals were my goals and no one else's business. But he admitted that doing so did make a difference.

As I was thinking about this, I wondered how I could find that level of accountability in my own life. Several ideas popped up:

1. Write it down. When I write things down, I am more likely to be committed to them, if just for the joy of crossing it off my list! (Is that you too? I confess to writing things down after the fact just so I could cross it off!) For me, somehow writing things down makes it much more concrete and certain. It cements and focuses my direction and gives me something to aim towards. Without it, I am likely to forget (typical mom characteristic!) or I just give up.

2. Tell someone. This goes against my independent nature. I don't like to report to anyone. I don't want people knowing that I failed to keep my word. It's so much easier to live out my days in secret. I get away with so much more that way!

But if someone knew about where I am going and what I am planning to do, there is an added awareness that someone is watching out for me. It can be an encouragement, but I know that when I have sought accountability in certain areas of my life, I am much more conscious when I am crossing the line or being flaky. It really is a case of iron sharpening iron as others have kept me to my word.

For me, the first person that I want to share my goals with is my husband. As my spouse, it helps that he knows my goals and I know his because then we can help one another out. When I am tempted to eat another piece of cake, he can remind me of my goal to shed those extra pounds. When I need to have some time alone for a few hours, he can work with me to provide the childcare needed so I can do that. And vice versa. We help one another out to reach towards what God has given us for the year.

Another way I can have some pseudo-accountability is by sharing it with you. When I started this series in the beginning of the month, I shared a brief listing of those goals. On one of the blogs I was reading, I came across a post that shared a list, with items crossed off!, of one mom's goals. Now I know why she gets so much done! And so I am going to try that this year as well. On the first of every month, I'll share the things that I will be doing that month, my "elephant bites", to work towards my yearly goals. My point is not to make you feel guilty. My point is to be accountable.  

Some months I may hit the mark. Some months I will not. Ultimately, if I accomplish anything in my life, it's because He has helped me to do it. But I do need to apply the muscle, clear the schedule, and sometimes grit my teeth and get it done. We're a team.

How about you? What can you do to keep your goals before you? Do you have a spouse or friend that can keep you accountable? Give it a try and see if it doesn't make a difference for you.