As new college graduates turn the tassel on their cap, start applying for jobs and move away, there is a lot of uncertainty. You've just spent the past four years creating relationships with your peers that have helped you find success in classes, other on-campus endeavors and even in your personal life. But as soon as you have a diploma in hand, so much changes. You have to build new life connections, which can be intimidating. And in the midst of this change is excitement and ambition to accomplish goals you've always dreamed of. But you can't ensure you accomplish what you set out to do without creating a support system to hold you accountable.

As you embark on this next chapter, it's important to establish a close group of people who will hold you accountable and help you reach your goals. One way that worked for me is called "Hotseat," a curriculum where four close peers empower each other over the course of one year to accomplish a major stretch goal. It's a self-motivated program, and it really works.

No matter the goal--get a bill passed on Capitol Hill, start a business, deliver a TED Talk--Hotseat is a motivating program every new graduate should take part in. But what's important to note is the three peers you form the group with will not necessarily be your best friends. They should be carefully selected individuals who have similar ambitions for following their dreams and making a difference in their lives--and in the lives of others. 12 months may seem like a short timeline, but there really isn't time to waste when the finish line is in arm's reach!

How do I choose my Hotseat group?

Consider people you respect, trust and can imagine spending a few hours with every month, receiving and providing guidance. For young people straight out of college, while diversity is encouraged, it's generally a good idea to choose people around the same level of maturity in order for this program to be taken seriously and really be successful.

How does Hotseat work?

In terms of time commitment, set up a regular cadence of meetings (i.e. first Friday of every month, for at least 2.5 hours). These meetings should be structured so that every member of the group is in the "hotseat" for 30 minutes, sharing what the goal is, answering questions and receiving guidance on how to accomplish it. In subsequent meetings, the first 10 minutes are used to give an update on progress before entering the Q&A/discussion and milestone-setting portions.

Why Hotseat works

I'm a strong believer that people accomplish more when they are held accountable by people they respect. Just as you might work harder to impress a teacher or boss, the Hotseat program creates a dynamic amongst peers whose opinions and advice you value. Since you have to report on your progress every month, accountability drives an individual to make meaningful improvement in between Hotseat meetings. Those monthly milestones quickly add up to significant progress toward an otherwise daunting goal.

As cliché as this saying is, for new graduates the world truly is your oyster- especially today with so many opportunities for young people to be successful. But of course, with these opportunities come anxieties about making the wrong choices and experiencing failure. When you have a close group of Hotseat peers to lean against in times of discouragement, you develop motivation and confidence. And more importantly, your abstract goals manifest into reality.

College offers such a great sense of community that when you graduate, move away and start a new part of your life, it can feel like it's hard to get that back. But once you create a supportive group that pushes you to fulfill life goals, you'll be grateful you made the commitment and amazed at the successes you'll see.

About the Author

Neha Sampat is the CEO of Built.io. With more than 15 years of experience in enterprise software, Neha has led product marketing, cloud computing and online experiences for companies like Sun Microsystems and VMware. She is a proponent of diversity and an outspoken advocate for nurturing women leaders in her industry. As an acclaimed entrepreneur, Neha can be found appearing on keynote stages or expert panels discussing her experiences as an entrepreneur, a female leader or how Built.io is changing the world through automation. Neha was named a "San Francisco Business Times 40 under 40" honoree and one of "50 Women in Tech Dominating Silicon Valley" in 2015.

Neha holds an MBA from Santa Clara University and a B.A. in French and Mass Communications and a minor in Leadership from the University of Denver.

Published on: Jun 30, 2017