Intentional Goals and the Metaphor of the Forgotten Fitbit

Do my steps count if I forget to wear my Fitbit?


Oh, sure my body gets the aerobic benefit whether or not there’s a Fitbit on my wrist, but the steps don’t count towards my daily goal of 20,000 if they don’t show up on my Fitbit.

I have a friend who is also working hard at building her own chain of days reaching a goal she set for herself. Early on there were a couple stumbles because she left her Fitbit home by accident. She probably did get all the steps she was aiming for, but her Fitbit said otherwise so the chain was broken. That may sound silly, but it’s actually Step Five in this Intentional Goal process.

For decades my goals were primarily based on emotions. Those feelings typically faded after a couple weeks leaving my goals without any fuel to move forward. So, they were tossed aside like roadkill.

Over the past couple years things have changed and my goals are now based on intentionality not emotions. I didn’t set out to create a process, but one has developed.

Step One-I ask three questions before I turn an idea into a goal.

Step Two-I actually set two goals, not just one.

Step Three-I drain the emotion before I get started.

Step Four-I make the goal a priority and get it on my calendar and then say no when something else threatens that time.

And, now Step Five…Accountability. 

I’m learning just how critical this final step is to eventually reaching my goals. Accountability is a way to close the loop so I can make adjustments to keep my progress moving forward. Using a Fitbit to reach my daily goal of 20,000 steps actually is a great word picture of how this works.

Obviously, my Fitbit tracks how many steps I’m getting throughout the day. It is my accountability partner for this goal. If I’m falling behind I know I will need some extra effort to reach 20,000. I may look for random pockets of free time or I may have to create a chunk of time to walk more. It’s a continuous check of my Fitbit and adjustment until I reach the goal.

Now, imagine I didn’t have my Fitbit tracking my steps, but still set a goal of 20,000. That would be kinda dumb, but I’m not above doing dumb things. I would be left to guess each day whether or not I made the goal or not. And, I would be relying primarily on something very subjective. Do I feel like I walked a lot today? Does it feel like I reached 20,000 steps? That would be ridiculous, right? This principle applies to any goal I set. I need to track my progress in a non-subjective way.

Let me explain how I use this principle for some other Intentional Goals I’m working on. On the last Saturday of each month, I spend about an hour reviewing my progress in each of these goals. It’s something I really look forward to. I go to, Ebenezer’s, my favorite coffee shop near Union Station in Washington DC. I sit down with a Moleskine notebook and write a review of each goal and the progress I’ve made over the past four weeks.

11:7Did I move forward? If not, how come? Then I decide if the month was a Win or a Loss for each of my goals. Interestingly, the first month I did this, I gave myself only one win and the rest were losses. Clearly, not a good start.

I realized pretty quick I was still relying on emotion to drive the progress. Old habits are hard to kill. And, as typically happens, the emotion faded pretty fast and I was wandering aimlessly which is why that first month pretty much sucked wind.

But, then here’s where it gets pretty great. That first Saturday morning review allowed me to make adjustments and remind myself in a powerful way of the commitment I made to these goals. The following month, I had a Win in all but one and have had positive months ever since.

This monthly Goal Check-Up is the same as looking at my Fitbit throughout the day to see where I am in my quest to reach 20,000 steps. Without it, I don’t know if my aim is true.

Now, I understand that my monthly Saturday morning coffee with a Moleskine Notebook thing might not be your thing. And, that’s fine, but I would encourage you to find something you can do on a consistent basis that keeps you accountable. Don’t just set a goal and leave it. Circle back often and ask yourself how it’s going.

Without my monthly review at Ebenezer’s it’s just way too easy for me to lose track. That’s what I lived with for decades with my emotionally set goals. Accountability is the final piece to keeping my goals intentional and my progress moving forward. 


  1. […] Hold Myself Accountable – This last step is so important and it was something I never did before. I set a few hours each month to review how I’m doing with my goals. I review the how much progress I made the previous month. I follow that with adjustments for the upcoming month. I never did that before. I’ve learned that the commitments I make to myself are just as important as the commitments I make to others. […]

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