If you have been following along with previous posts, I hope you have found the most recent one on goal setting helpful to frame out a plan. Having a plan is crucial to success, but even more important is following through on your plan…accountability. Most of us think about accountability in terms of our job, or perhaps disciplinary action…essentially consequences for not following through on plans, goals, requirements. In the context of our health, we need accountability to ourselves, in order to make our goals and plans stick.
Imagine you have the goal of losing 20 pounds in three months which we used as an example in the last post, and part of this plan to accomplish this goal is to wake up at 5 am three days per week to exercise. There are many scenarios which can play out where your alarm clock goes off, and you may not want to answer the bell and be accountable to the plan. It is raining, you are tired from being up late with your child, you’ve had a tough week…I get it, I’ve been there. If you really want your goals to become reality, you do need some hard and fast rules for accountability, and ways to make sure you follow them.
That is a critical language point to consider, “rules”. What sounds stronger to you, “I really should get up at 5 am to exercise”, or “Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I must get up at 5 am to exercise, no exceptions!” When your “goals” and “plans” become “rules”, and “standards”, you are much more likely to follow through and be accountable.
If it is critical to your goals to never miss a 5 am workout, you need to structure accountability to make sure that never happens. You can have all the best intentions, but to help you push through distractions, it does help to build in some systems for accountability in areas you know will be challenging. Here are a few strategies to ponder, to stay accountable:
- Did you write down your goals??? If not, please take a look at the last blog post and write them down using the SMART model or another method that works for you. Writing goals down makes them much easier to track and stay accountable to, so go and do that if you have not!
- Have you told anyone about your goals? If you think about it, sharing goals with close friends or family is a great way to build in some accountability. We all want to take pride in our accomplishments and tell people when we are hitting the marks, and we would also not want to have to be in a position to report we’ve slacked off and skipped 2 out of three 5 am workouts this week.
- Sidebar on telling people about your goals, you could use the internet to tell even more people…like your social media, or a blog! I know when I get into exploring a topic and make a plan or a goal as part of my blogging experience, it would be a great degree of shame for me to not walk the walk and have to report that out to all of you. There are also many online/social media groups out there people can join to build community and help with staying accountable.
- Would investing in a coach/trainer be a good fit for you? For many of us, if we make a financial and/or personal commitment to a plan, we are more likely to follow through. A trainer/coach is not only a financial commitment, it is a person who is making the same time commitment you are, and you’d have to contact them if you want to cancel…rolling over and hitting the snooze bar is not an acceptable reason to cancel out of a personal training session in most people’s book, as most of these professionals have a strict cancellation/no refund policy for last minute call outs. Some feel that a Gym membership is financial motivation enough, since you pay for a membership. But, consider the impact of paying for someone’s expertise and time as you go, rather than a flat membership fee which is the same no matter how many times you go to the Gym.
- Is there someone who could be an accountability buddy for you, like a training partner? Maybe the financial impact of canceling out on a trainer is not as motivating to you as having to leave someone hanging who has made a personal commitment to go for a walk, or go to the gym with you.
Accountability is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and accomplishing our goals…even if you are not training to run in a race, you need accountability every day to make time for exercise, and make good food and lifestyle choices. As a take-away, think of areas of your healthy lifestyle that you could use more accountability in. What approach would resonate with you, and make you more likely to follow through? It is a personal answer for all of us, I hope you will spend some time on it and find success launching goals. More to come, stay tuned!
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