Your Key to Success - Tips to Increase Personal Accountability
Accountability separates the wishers in life from the action-takers that care enough about their future to account for their daily actions. - John Di Lemme
Adulting is hard - on so many levels.
Work, family, friends, so many obligations and when something has to give, it’s usually our commitments to ourselves that are the first to be tossed to the wayside.
We all know the signs: you start off strong but then the devil on your shoulder convinces you that 40 more minutes of sleep is better than taking your planned run in the morning. Or staying late at the office to help your boss is more pressing than going home to work on your side business - aka your true passion.
I’m sure each and every one of you reading this right now can come up with at least one thing that you keep meaning to make the time for and haven't. (At least, not yet!)
So today, I am going to let you in on some of my favorite ways to help stay accountable to yourself in order to accomplish whatever it is you have your sights set on. (Also, make sure you check out my two part post on fail-safe goal setting to ensure you have a solid foundation to be working with)
Know your “why”:
This may get a scoff from many of you but understanding why you want something (where that desire and motivation come from) is the most fundamental element of accountability. When you know your “why” it is much easier to make the necessary sacrifices to attain it.
For some, knowing the why is enough - the swimmer who wakes up early to practice before school because this is what it takes to get to the olympics, the doctor who misses family birthdays to tend to patients. As Viktor Frankl said, “When you know your why, you can endure any how”.
For others though, the "why" is not enough.
Fear not if you fall into this camp! Here are some helpful tricks to help you stay on track, no matter the goal.
Schedule time and set reminders
If you have a chunk of time that you can dedicate to working on your goal, block that time off. Make a real commitment to yourself - just as you would to a client scheduling a meeting with you. You wouldn’t say “yes” to a client and not show up, so why would you stand yourself up?
Set reminders on your phone: 2 hours before, 1 hour before, 30 minutes before... think of this as your snooze button or a little accountability coach in your phone telling you “stop whatever you are doing! You want X because of Y, do it for yourself!” (x is your goal, y is your... why :P )
It is so easy to get caught up in your day, but you wouldn’t skip out on your scheduled teeth cleaning (I hope!), so don’t skip out on time scheduled to get you closer to the things you want!
Find a partner
A tried and true tactic for remaining accountable is finding a partner-in-crime. This can be someone who is working towards the same goal as you, working towards a different goal or even someone who is there solely to encourage you on your journey.
This method is particularly beneficial with a goal where the process doesn’t excite you but the rewards of accomplishing are enough to make you want to fight (ie, getting a certification in order to enter higher pay bracket).
Once we share with others what it is we plan to do it becomes a concrete declaration, not merely a suggestion in your head.
When I made the decision to quit my job and go off on my own, I told EVERYONE I encountered. I didn’t want there to be any excuse for me not to follow through. The more people I shared my goal with, the more real it became for me that there was no other option.
Create an environment conducive to keeping you on track
As we have established, finding time for ourselves is not easy, so creating foolproof systems and an environment that will support you is essential to staying on track.
Think about all the things that can get in your way from working towards your goal. Let’s take the classic example of someone who wants to work out in the morning but isn’t a morning person - a common structure that people implement is laying out their workout clothes the night before, some even go as far as to sleep in the outfit so that when they wake up there is absolutely no excuse not to work out.
Similarly, remove any temptations. Maybe you want to build a side business after getting home from work but the TV inevitably ends up winning every night. You could find a library or cafe on your way home where you can go to work on your business before giving in to the couch and TV back at the house.
Systems are especially great because they allow you to get ahead of your temptations or hinderances and proactively tell them "sorry, you're not going to throw me off". If a client is having a particularly hard time sticking to their goals we will create multiple structures for everything that may get in their way - the more support you have the better! (It’s like having the bumpers up at the bowling alley, just a little help to guide your ball to a strike!)
A method I have recently adopted is habit trackers. Habit trackers help you see a birds-eye-view of how you are holding up to your commitment. I find this especially useful when trying to shift behaviors (for example, I decided I want to go back to drinking 3 liters of water a day so I am tracking this).
Now, there are a million ways you can create a habit tracker - mark your calendar with an icon for the days you met your goal, keep track in a journal, or you can download this worksheet I created to make it super simple for you.
Whatever your method, the purpose is the same: keep track of how often you are staying accountable to yourself. If you are doing well, great: reward yourself and keep it up! Alternatively, if you notice that you aren’t trending in the direction you were hoping to, it’s a strong indication that you should make sure your “why” is clear and that you are setting structures in place to help you succeed in the areas that are more difficult to follow through on.
Envision yourself getting everything you need to do done while still having time for your pleasures and passions.
Really concentrate on what this looks like, what it feels like. Hold onto that image and when you are struggling to stay motivated even with a strong why, helpful systems in place, an accountability partner, AND reminders, close your eyes and bring yourself back to this feeling. Know that you CAN do it.
If all else fails and you are still struggling to do this on your own, I am here for you! Click here to schedule your free discovery session to explore how I can help you stay accountable and reach any goal you set your mind to!