Samantha Yarwood: How to set goals and hold yourself accountable

Michele Ernsting
Article by: Michele Ernsting
Samantha Yarwood: How to set goals and hold yourself accountable

It’s early January. Like many people, you may be starting the year with a number of personal and professional goals in mind. It’s relatively easy to set goals; the devil is in the doing. If you want to reach new goals, you may need to change your current ways of being and doing.

Samantha Yarwood uses some simple and powerful tools and practices to keep her goals front of mind and hold herself accountable. For Samantha, clarifying her purpose is the first step.




Knowing your purpose helps clarify the type of leader you want to be

“My purpose is to act as a catalyst, to help people reimagine the possible and have a positive impact in the world. I love being able to support individuals and organizations to see things from a different perspective and to really bring their values and passions to the world, but specifically with the lens of having a positive impact.”

There are a number of tools which you can use to surface your purpose. One is the Purpose Journal, which we frequently use in THNK leadership programs.

“I also really like the Westpoint Leadership Philosophy. I’ve used it several times with myself and also with others. It’s helps me be really clear on what kind of leader I want to be and also how I show up in the world. I use it as a check-in to see things I really enjoy, but also identify things that are my hot buttons.”

Soliciting feedback is crucial to personal growth

Samantha uses another tool to surface goals related to personal growth. “Many years ago I did a 360 feedback assessment. Since then, every single year, around my birthday, I get feedback from friends, family and people I work with. I also get feedback from people I know are not going to be my biggest fans, because I really want honest feedback. The reality is that we all have good intentions but sometimes we’re not showing up in the way we think we are.”

“By the way, I’m not saying I always handle feedback well by any stretch of the imagination. There are times when I literally feel pain in my chest because I’m not not sure I really want this feedback. Sometimes I need to sit with it for a little while and get back to the person in like twenty four to forty eight hours. So, yeah, it’s a work in progress.”

Once you’ve clarified your purpose and surfaced your growth areas, how can you build a practice which moves you towards these goals?

“I have a chalkboard over there on the wall, and I have actually written out my purpose and my leadership philosophy. Specifically, I’ve mapped my values, my passions, purpose and the impact that I want to have in the world. It’s always visible and I use that as a grounding stone, so I can look at how I’m living and what I’m doing and hold myself accountable on a daily basis.”

Daily habits can help to keep your goals front of mind

“I have a few daily habits to reinforce this. For example, when I get up in the morning, the first thing I do is meditate. I try to take an hour out of every day to go for a walk, without a phone or a conversation, sometimes I just count steps. It helps me to think and to integrate my experiences. At the end of every day I need at least thirty minutes just for me. After a long day I can’t just go to bed, I need to reflect on what happened and think back to my morning meditation.”

These practices have not only helped Samantha set and track her goals, they’ve also influenced the types of goals she sets and how she measures her own success.

“From my North American context, we are so focused on productivity, output and delivering results as a measure of success. What if we changed what “success” or productivity means? Maybe productivity actually means creating a space for me to think today, rather than do; maybe productive means going for a walk and just daydreaming. Maybe when we allow ourselves that space, new and better ideas will come up.”