It has always seemed strange to me that while anything I competed in growing up or had goals for, such as playing soccer, cricket, even ballroom dancing (it can get mean out on the dance floor), I always had a coach.  Someone to teach me, set a plan of action and then keep me to it. Even once you become the world’s best tennis player you still have a coach. It’s not that they are better at tennis then the world number one, but having someone keep you ‘accountable’ and on track is the number one reason in helping you reach those goals.

It’s also not just in sport as successful people in other areas such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey, they all have people who have coached or mentored them along the way and still do, even at their peak.

This week’s podcast with Grant Hackett (Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast), he talks about how he was coached in swimming as well as in business, and accountability was a big part of this. Never being satisfied with the targets and his coaches were always raising the bar for him. He even shares in the podcast episode the best piece of advice his first coach, his dad told him which he still applies today.

I have spent some time researching this and one common theme, is that it doesn’t matter who you are or how clever or important you are, we are all human and we find it really difficult to do it all by ourselves to reach any goal.  Yes we can be born with talent, but unless we are guided and pushed, it rarely transforms to something more. It is important to recognise the benefits of being kept accountable.

So many of us set goals to save money, to lose weight, to buy a property, but having goals without a plan, timeframes and accountability, are unfortunately just dreams.  As left to our own devices, humans find it tough to stay self-motivated and on track. Don’t get me wrong, dreams are important as that’s how we get started, but let’s just agree that it’s only half the process, we need that motivation to make those dreams into reality.

So the question then becomes, when we know people who reach the top of their profession have coaches or people keeping them accountable, why do we see this as such a foreign concept to everyday life and our own dreams and goals? Why do we then think we can do it all by ourselves?

I have spoken to plenty of people over the years on this same subject, and they all say the same thing, “yes it makes sense to get a coach as a professional athlete, but this is simple money stuff and I should be able to do it myself”. What we forget is that there is only 24 hours in a day, and once you take work, time with family and friends, spirituality, sport and hobbies and paying the bills – there is little wonder you don’t have any time to spend on your goals, and these things get put to the bottom of the pile. 

When I used to speak to my clients, I said part of my role or any coach is to be there for them, to be their ‘financial gym buddy’ so to speak.  As we all need a financial gym buddy or coach, just like on an early Sunday morning when it’s cold and miserable, and you would rather roll over and go back to sleep. You don’t, as you have someone waiting for you at the gym, as you have made a commitment, and you are being held accountable, so you get up and do it. 

Same with your finances and money goals, unless you have someone who will keep you accountable and see you each quarter, half-yearly or even annually, it makes it so much harder to stay on track. That’s why financial advisers (and now coaches) are so good at this as they not only set up regular times to meet, they can also help set up the plan, set up a timeframe, and keep you accountable to that. Advisers can also invest your funds to get your money working harder for you while you get on with life.

If cost is a problem, don’t let this stop you as even a relative, friend or work mentor can help, just as long as they are someone you trust. You can then set up a time to regularly catch up to show your progress.  Even finding someone who also has goals can work, as you both can keep each other accountable and on track.

So if you are serious about reaching those goals and dreams, remember having a plan is only half the battle (even though it is a very big first step), but being held accountable makes us do the work, and not let time just go by.

Take a tip from the best athletes and leaders of their profession, if they see the benefit of being coached and being kept accountable, I think it’s a great lesson to copy for the rest of us.