Are You Holding Yourself Accountable in Reaching Your Goals?
In my counseling work I am always striking a balance between offering my clients guidance and direction while also holding them accountable in reaching their own goals. My trainer does the same thing with me.
Here's a conversation I had with my trainer recently:
Carolyn: Devon, why do you have candy in your office?
Me: Well, when my clients are in for a counseling session, many of them
appreciate a piece of chocolate.
C: Can you handle not eating the chocolate in your office?
M: Yes, I can.
And that's all it took. She can’t stand in my office every day all day long to make sure I don’t eat all of the mini Mr. Goodbars (God those are good) – only I can make sure I don’t eat the entire bowl.
If you’re desperately trying to get your life unstuck and take action toward your goals, you’ve got to hold yourself accountable and not look to an outside source to do it for you. Sure, yes, it’s fine to tell your best friend you intend on losing 15 pounds by her wedding, and hopefully she will encourage you and lend her support, but it’s not up to HER to lose your weight – only you can do it.
Why Personal Accountability is Better than Duct Tape
I knew someone who used to use duct tape on ANYTHING that needed fixing. A good portion of the inside and outside of his car was wrapped in the stuff. He also managed to duct tape the broken leg back on his desk at work. And once, when he ripped his pants during lunch trying to impress his coworkers with his hacky-sack skills, he just duct taped the split and walked around like it was perfectly normal for a grown man to have shiny tape on his butt.
The point is, while duct tape is a fine quick fix, it’s not going to last. By 3PM my coworker’s split had reopened, much to everyone’s chagrin, and eventually his front bumper and rearview mirror fell off and his desk collapsed.
When you are accountable to someone else to reach your goals – it’s merely duct tape on your problems. Sure, you’ll go to the gym because your trainer is waiting, and you’ll order the grilled chicken breast salad at lunch because your friend – who knows you’re trying to lose 15 pounds by her wedding – is giving you the evil eye.
But what happens when your trainer and friend aren’t around? What happens when it’s midnight and everyone else in your house is asleep and you’re PMSing and had a crap day and are looking at the pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie like it’s a bag of diamonds? Who’s going to stop you from eating the entire thing? Your trainer? Friend? An off-duty police officer who just happens to be in your neighborhood and thought he’d stop by? Nope – you are. You’re the only one who can hold yourself accountable in that moment, and let me tell you, life is full of those moments so you had better get good at personal accountability.
In other words, real motivation MUST come from WITHIN!
4 Ways to Help You Become Personally Accountable
You are ultimately the one responsible for making changes in your life that will bring you joy, health, and abundance. Deciding to make these changes is a wonderful and important first step, but how do you keep yourself honest and hold yourself to a higher standard? How do you make sure your positive changes last?
Here are 4 key ways you can start holding yourself more accountable for your own success:
The only way to make sure you hold yourself accountable for hitting or missing the mark is to know exactly who you are, and namely, your strengths and weaknesses. The following 3 methods are dependent on you knowing yourself so intimately that you can’t get anything past yourself.
Remember how your mother somehow knew when you were juuuust about to sneak out of the house, like she had some weird 6th sense. She knew you, all of you, your habits, dreams, desires, and stupidity. You've got to be your own mother and know yourself so fully that you won’t let yourself get away with anything.
Get Real Specific
One of the biggest mistakes I see my clients make is setting fuzzy goals. You must set really clear and specific goals. Only by doing so will you be able to come up with a well-defined plan of action to reach them. Your plan should include milestones and markers of achievement so you can always track your progress.
Keep a Journal
If you’re rolling your eyes right now at this one I get it, I was never a fan of journaling myself, but that’s because I didn't see the immense value in it. Journaling is a way for you to be totally honest and transparent with yourself. On these pages you can let your guard down, express your emotions honestly, and reflect on your progress. Journaling also allows you to see your own habitual patterns and to understand better why you make the choices you do. You’ll realize what daily events push your buttons and make you fall off the wagon a bit, and what things help to calm and motivate you.
Your life as you know it is a direct result of the choices you make. Journaling can help you make better ones, so just do it already.
Accept Failure as Fact
Making changes in your life means doing something entirely new and different. If you’re used to life being automatic and now you've got to manually shift it, you’re bound to stall once in awhile. Don’t sit there and berate yourself, simply start the car and ease out the clutch. Failures aren't really failures at all unless you let them beat you and stop you from reaching your goals.
Life is so much better when it is aligned with our greatest desires. Personal accountability isn't necessarily easy, but it’s the only path toward living the life of your dreams.
Devon is a Licensed Mental Health/Substance Abuse Counselor, Personal Life Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, and a nationally certified teacher. She is committed to helping young people be their highest selves in all areas: body, mind, and spirit. Her expertise, enthusiasm, energy and educational background serve to create a unique blend of services and techniques employed to help you reach your goals. For counseling sessions, coaching, or training, please contact her at 505.469.0779 or firstname.lastname@example.org.