Last year I trialled a new coaching program with clients for Ditch the Diet & Face the Feelings. It gave clients the option of three 20-minute accountability calls each week rather than one weekly coaching call. The results from it were astounding for those clients used to dieting and weekly weigh-ins.
Because the weekly accountability calls enable them to fudge the process as they would with a diet: to follow it only for the two or three days before the call, rather than living the process every day of the week.
For me, it was eye-opening.
I hadn’t considered the challenges I face as I implement changes in my patterns and habits.
Goal-setting for better results:
Most of us know that the first step towards achieving our dreams and goals is to set the goal, perhaps using SMART goals, vision boards or other techniques.
But it requires something entirely different to achieve your goals. My primary work with clients, no matter what changes they are hoping to make, is to look at their daily practices, systems and habits: what are they doing regularly and consistently that will lead them to achieve their dreams?
It’s more than just battling and overcoming obstacles and challenges. Do you have the support network you need to get the results?
What is accountability?
Being accountable is about answerability and reporting to yourself or another person, and it reflects being responsible for your actions, omissions and the results and outcomes thereof.
But accountability is not something you do “one-off” – instead, it is an all-time thing! It is a way of living and doing that you can never delegate or hand off to another.
No matter what your goal or dream, you need someone to hold your feet to the fire, that will keep you accountable for staying on track day-by-day so that you fulfil your long-term goals.
Why do you need accountability?
When you hold yourself accountable, you build self-confidence. Your confidence grows as you watch yourself consistently keep your word: you build trust that you will take action and move towards your goals.
Action creates motivation!
Each time you fulfil your promises to yourself, you are creating personal integrity and authenticity. It’s living in alignment with your values and what is truly important to you as you avoid the shiny objects or time-suckers that get you sidetracked and off course.
Having someone that you regularly respond to also improves your time-management skills. Knowing that you have to answer how you spent your time and energy, you will prioritise what you promised.
Accountability results in personal development, growth and change.
You need accountability to stay on the road to success:
Many things can hold us back from achieving our dreams and goals:
- our monkey mind and inner critic
- shiny objects that distract us
- challenges and obstacles, and
- procrastination and fear
These are merely some of the challenges you will face. But accountability is a great way to overcome these.
Most of us have a myriad of excuses that we use as defence mechanisms: protection against feeling bad about ourselves. We let ourselves off the hook, buying into the first excuse that comes to mind.
Who holds you accountable and questions those excuses?
Often, it takes another person to ask the real and underlying reason you are not pursuing your goals. Are these personal fears or limiting beliefs about what you are capable of achieving?
Your creative mind is always working on providing plausible reasons why you should quit.
The Monkey Mind and Inner Critic:
Any of us can fall prey to that hyperactive state, where we are multi-tasking and thinking about everything we could be doing, all at once.
Who quietens you and reminds you to focus on “the one thing” and the present moment?
When you get caught up making mindless decisions, emotions and quick fixes, who pulls you free? How long do you focus on putting our fires, tending to the urgent rather than the important, before someone reminds you of your goals and dreams?
You need accountability to eliminate the “noise” and distractions so that you get back on track.
Shiny object syndrome:
Should I tell you how many blog posts I’ve started writing? Or do you want to see the results of how many I have finished?
It is easy to chase a new idea or trend while failing to finish what you have already started. That doesn’t mean that there’s not a moment to cut your losses on a goal or a project when it’s not working out.
But there is a difference between quitting with reasonable cause and simply chasing the next shiny object, never quite getting anything done and completed. Even imperfectly finished and completed tasks give you results.
Most of us like shiny objects, perhaps from fear of missing out or other times because we lack clarity about what we are working on or towards.
Who sits down and asks the hard questions when you are getting distracted and failing to follow through?
Challenges and obstacles on the road to success:
There will always be challenges and obstacles:
- resources you need that you don’t have on hand;
- knowledge or know-how that you are lacking;
- things you didn’t know that you didn’t know;
- realising that you need to build your network or ask someone for help; and
- time constraints.
When you are overwhelmed and want to quit, accountability will ask the right questions of you. They are simple questions about the obstacles or challenges you face and the steps you take to overcome them.
Perhaps you need words of encouragement and a gentle push, reminding you that this is not the time to give up.
We all need one or more people to have our backs and help with problem-solving when we hit upon obstacles or challenges.
Procrastination and fear:
Whether you are afraid of failure or fear success, procrastination is the physical manifestation of fear, and distraction is its close cousin! We react with fear to avoid a loss or because we have an aversion to change.
Through accountability, you face your fears:
- What is the source of your anxiety?
- How can you expose yourself to this fear and face it?
- What steps will you take to move forward despite this fear?
Accountability: who are you accountable to?
With any goal or dream, you have primary accountability to yourself:
- responsibility for your choices and actions;
- self-discipline and habits – the primary methods of self-improvement;
- ownership of your patterns and daily commitments.
But in life, we have many different people that we are regularly (even if not deliberately) accountable to:
- professional colleagues and teams
You will be more effective in your relationships if you are intentional about establishing:
- what you are accountable for; and
- who you are responsible to.
An accountability buddy or peer:
In creating habits or changes, have a peer or buddy. Building a relationship with specifically for accountability will get much better results than trying to do it alone. In this day and age, many of us like using apps for accountability.
But, I have usually found that I do better when I have someone with whom I regularly go to the gym or commit to workouts. I run more often, longer and further when I run with a running partner. I do better in my goal setting and achievements when I meet up weekly with my accountability buddy.
There are many ways of doing accountability:
- weekly meet up in person or on Zoom;
- daily message or texting;
- regular messaging through Voxer or Marco Polo.
What’s important is that you focus on the behaviour and patterns, not the outcomes. The change happens in the process of changing what you do.
Getting a mentor or coach
My most significant changes happen when I am accountable to a mentor or coach. Professionally, a mentor might be one of the most important relationships you have. Sometimes, you need more than just a buddy or peer to hold you accountable.
A coach can support you to reach your goals, keep you on track, overcome obstacles and challenges, and get better results.
You might choose:
- an accountability coach – they help you stick to the process to reach your long-term goals;
- a professional or career coach
- performance coaching for a specific project or area of your life that requires improvement
- a skills coach
- life coaching or personal change and development, when they focus on inner life coaching and change.
There are many options of what you might choose to help you clarify your values and goals and then achieve this.
If you want better results, you need accountability.
Finally, consider the outcomes and successes that you want to achieve and make sure you have clarity on these fundamental tenets:
- What are you responsible for?
- Who are you accountable to?
- How can you better focus on the process, patterns and habits that will create change and the desired results?
Your results come from doing, not from imagination. Yes, planning and goal-setting are essential. Your mindset also plays an indispensable role, but the going will get tough.
Who will hold you accountable and keep you on track throughout the journey?