Whenever the word "accountability" comes up in a conversation, there are usually mixed reactions to it. It's a little like exercise: everyone agrees it's good; but few would agree it's easy. Accountability is the state of being obligated to report, explain or justify something. At the beginning of a new year, people often set goals regarding their health, career, finances, or relationships. That's usually the easy part. To maintain a commitment to our goals, we would need to check on our progress, and explain any gaps or delays in order to rectify any factors that might get in the way of achieving the outcomes we desire.
But let's admit it: accountability can be hard, especially when you realize you'll have to confront feelings of guilt and shame that often arise when you miss the mark. To make accountability work for you, you may find it helpful to break it down into these manageable steps outlined below.
Quite simply, you cannot change what you will not acknowledge. Holding oneself accountable requires attentiveness to not only your goals and objectives, but also the limitations and needs that may be roadblocks on the path to success. You will not be able to address any of your needs if you are 1) not aware that they exist, and/or 2) refuse to identify them as limitations.
Having limitations doesn't make you a failure. As a matter of fact, you set yourself up for more opportunities for success if you can acknowledge them quickly, and take action.
Taking action is a natural next step arising from the acknowledgment of your needs. If you know what they are, you'll get a sense of what's necessary convert your limitations into opportunities. Now, this is where a lot of people get stuck; the "graveyard of accountability". This happens because the steps to address limitations may seem overwhelming, resulting in avoidance (or taking the path of least resistance). However, you can expect that your outcomes will be significantly diminished if the process is halted at this point. One useful strategy to address this is to think of your plan only in "the next reasonable step". This way, you'll be breaking down the mountain of needs into small, movable rocks.
After executing your plan, take some time to look at what went well, and what needs further review. You may notice new needs for which you can create new action plans, and continue this process until you find yourself with a personal system that keeps you on track for your goals.
What does all this look like in real life?
So let's say we're three weeks into the year, and by this time some people may have lost momentum regarding their fitness regimen (for example). It started out great for the first 10-15 days or so, but then you noticed that working out in the mornings was ineffective because you had to do the morning prep for breakfast or school lunches. The first step is to acknowledge that mornings are terrible for a workout. Then, take action by looking at your daily schedule to see when the most reasonable time is for a workout (maybe Mon, Wed, Fri at 6pm for an hour?), and give it a try. After about two weeks, assess your new plan to see how effective that was (maybe Tues, Thurs, Fri at 5:30 for 30 mins, and an hour on Saturdays at 7am works better).
Your goals don't have to be completely derailed for the rest of the year. You can engage accountability in a meaningful way by simply acknowledging your needs, taking action, and assessing your progress.
If you would like to discuss your therapeutic needs, and would like to explore the possibility of starting therapy, feel free to contact me by calling 416-688-5274, or by booking a free initial consult at heartspringtherapy.ca/book-online. Video therapy sessions are available.