It’s easy to be accountable to other people. We show up for work because our boss is holding us accountable. We meet our deadlines because our client is counting on us. We submit our taxes because there’s a financial penalty if we don’t.
It can be tough to stay on track when you’re the only one who knows what you’re supposed to do. When no one is watching, letting yourself off the hook and slack off is easy. For example, one of my clients used to work for one of the global consulting firms as a technology consultant. He was good at what he does and soon got promoted to a senior team lead after two years. He started a fintech company as he wanted to do something challenging and see how far he could go. Unfortunately, he soon realised that he was increasingly unproductive on his own, with no clients, bosses or colleagues giving him pressure, timelines, or no validation or recognition. He begins to doubt his entrepreneurial capability and berates himself for lack of discipline and motivation.
Another client lamented about work-life balance, working long hours with no time and energy left to find a life partner leaving her feeling disillusioned and full of anxiety about her life. And yet, she found herself unable to summon enough willpower to plan social outings and hit the dating scene.
When it comes to personal goals and resolutions, how can you hold yourself accountable when there’s no one there to make sure you do what you say you’re going to do? And especially when willpower and motivation are low in supply. Lack of personal accountability and procrastination are common challenges I help my coaching clients to solve.
This blog post will discuss some tips for staying on track when no one is watching!
Here are a few ideas you can experiment with:
1. Enlist an accountability partner
One way to hold yourself accountable is to find someone to help you stay on track. This could be a friend, family member, co-worker, community or professional coach. Having someone to check in with regularly will help you stay focused and motivated. Enlisting an accountability partner also holds you accountable because you don’t want to disappoint them. You will be more likely to follow through with your commitments if you know someone who depends on you. When I tried to write a book, I asked my son to ask me this question every day over dinner “Mummy, how many words did you write today?” This question keeps me on my toes as I want to be a good role model.
If you don’t have anyone in mind, there are plenty of online accountability groups or forums that you can join. A group of people working towards similar goals can be motivating and inspiring. Many apps and websites offer accountability services. Find what works best for you, and check in with your accountability partner regularly.
2. Make a plan and commit to it publicly
Another way to hold yourself accountable is to make a plan and commit to it publicly.
Making a plan is the first step to achieving any goal. But it’s not enough to just have a plan; you need to commit to it publicly. This could mean sharing your goals with friends and family, posting about them on social media, or even starting a blog.
I have a friend who documents his daily push-ups on Facebook and declares how many he plans to achieve 3,000 push-ups by month end. By making your plans public, you are more likely to follow through with them.
Committing your goals publicly has another benefit – it allows you to be held accountable by others. When you tell people about your plans, they will often check in with you to see how you’re doing. This is an excellent way to stay on track and motivated because you don’t want to disappoint them or be embarrassed.
3. Create visual reminders in the environment to remind yourself
This is one of my favourites and a tactic I often use on myself.
Research has shown that writing down your goals leads to much higher levels of goal achievement. But you want to take it a step farther. You want to surround yourself with visual reminders of your goals so that you can’t ignore them.
Otherwise, it’s just too easy to let them slip away. One way of staying focused is by creating visual reminders in everyday life, so they aren’t forgotten about easily. You know the saying, “out of sight, out of mind.”
Visual reminders can take many forms – from posters positioned around one’s living space for maximum visibility and impact, putting post-it notes on your laptop, setting alarms on your mobile, or wearing a piece of jewellery that reminds you. You get the idea. Look around your most “frequented” space. Find somewhere that works for you, and make sure you see it often!
Finally, be patient with yourself. It’s important to remember that change takes time, and you shouldn’t expect to see results overnight. If you slip up, don’t be too hard on yourself. Just get back on track and keep moving forward. The more you practice holding yourself accountable, the easier it will become.
These are just a few ideas to help you get started. Try experimenting with different techniques and see what works best for you. And above all else, remember that holding yourself accountable is necessary to achieve any goal. So don’t be afraid to do the work and make it happen.
Do you have any tips for holding yourself accountable? Please share your stories with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you found this blog post helpful, please share it with your friends! If you need a professional coach, schedule a chat with me and see how I can support you to get unstuck https://calendly.com/catherine-chai/30min.