Hold yourself accountable for your choices and goals.
You’ve talked about starting a business, getting a new job or maybe buying a home. For longer than you care to remember, you have wanted to accomplish something major that will improve your life, but nothing has happened. What’s stopping you?

Without going into any possible psychological reasons we sabotage ourselves, we can look at some very simple and highly probable reasons things haven’t moved forward. Typically, people talk about things without creating clear goals, developing a plan and establishing some level of accountability. If you are envisioning success in any area without some sort of structure, you are probably fooling yourself. Your results are speaking for themselves. Expecting a different outcome without adjusting your approach is simply unrealistic. If you want to realize your dreams, then it’s time to make a change. These simple steps can make the difference between staying with the status quo and getting somewhere.

Establish clear goals. Instead of focusing on getting away from where you are, as in, “I hate my job and want to leave,” take the time to define what you do want to do and determine the type of environment that might be a closer fit for you. You may have only vague ideas about specific roles or other companies that might be to your liking, but you can start by listing elements of your work and work environment that are important to you. Narrowing those factors down to the most critical ones for job satisfaction gives you something more specific to be looking for. It might look like: “I want to support user interfaces on consumer-facing websites for a company that is willing to pay $XX for my contribution, supports employees’ needs for work/life balance and is located within a 40-minute commute.”

Make an action plan. What will it take to figure out more specifically what you want to do and where you want to work? Roles are different from company to company, and environments can also be decidedly different even for the same type of work. Titles and websites’ promises may lead to false realities of what will really work for you. Write down what you will need to know and how you will approach your investigation, then commit to when you will do the research. Yes, this will require thinking through every step, projecting how much time each action will take and using a calendar to determine when you are able/most likely to do it.

You are the first to know when something was accomplished or not.

Hold yourself accountable. These are your goals and you have the most invested in the outcomes you desire. You are the first to know when something was accomplished or not, and you are the only one who can change your plan when something wasn’t done. Set deadlines and hold yourself accountable to them. If you need reinforcement, then find a colleague or friend who can be an “accountability buddy” or hire a coach who will keep you focused and on track. Unless you are fully committed to completing the steps needed to move forward, not much will change. Decide the minute you say you want something different or new that you are going to take action and make it happen.

If you have already taken steps to prepare yourself for something new, you are more likely to get what you want in the event external influences create unanticipated opportunities. Getting the momentum going is half the battle. It’s easier to make changes if a plan is already in motion, so make sure you stay accountable for moving things forward. Take control of your destiny and don’t leave it up to your company, the market or financial concerns to set your direction because you failed to take action sooner.