All my life I wanted to be able to run.
But I never managed it. Not enough time, not enough energy - just not enough motivation.
Until a friend persuaded me to sign up for a Race for Life 5k for Cancer Research.
And suddenly I HAD to train - I'd made this commitment, I couldn't let her, or the charity down...
And guess what: I did it.
I stuck to my training regime, and I eventually made it all the way around Battersea Park without stopping (although I did get overtaken by someone in a banana suit... )
Because I'd made that commitment, and I had some very clear accountability - either I would be able to run that 5k, or I wouldn't.
It was the accountability that made me do it.
So far in this series helping us to #Finish2020Strong, we’ve:
taken 3 steps to a fresh start, letting go of the past and allowing ourselves to dream about our future
narrowed our focus so that all of these possible dreams have become one clear dream to pursue.
and worked out how to turn our dream into a goal.
This week, I’m going to help you understand how you can support yourself to take action to achieve that goal.
We've all tried to start that exercise regime, or stick to that diet - but haven't managed it.
Just because we WANT to do something, doesn't mean we'll actually take the right kind of actions to do it.
Unless you have a strong enough motivator
Which is where ACCOUNTABILITY comes in.
Read on to find out to create strong internal and external accountability…
Internal accountability - the dangers of language
As with anything internal, this is a mindset that is strongly influenced by our language.
An indication of weak internal accountability is blaming language:
"I couldn't do it because they didn't give me the information I needed".
They - whether an object (an alarm clock), or a person (your colleague, client or boss) - are responsible, not you.
Another indication of weak accountability is victim language:
"I can't do it because I just don't have time".
YOU are the primary actor in your own life - you make the choices about how to focus your time.
You decided (whether consciously or unconsciously) whether to prioritise your time on that particular task or activity.
So what's the solution?
Change your language!
First, become self-aware.
Notice when you start blaming other people for results, or giving power to things outside yourself. (I always say, self-awareness is the crucial first step to any change!)
Second, change your language. Rather than "I couldn't" or "I can't", replace it with "I didn't" or "I'm not going to".
Then finish with the honest reason why:
"I didn't do it because I didn't make sure I got the information I needed".
"I'm not going to do it because I think doing x is a better use of my time."
You are then taking complete ownership of the decision.
When you hear the words coming out of your mouth (or in your head) in that construction, you may decide you don't like them - you don't like the fact you didn't do what was necessary; or you've decided to prioritise something else.
And that is then the motivator for change: to change your decision or behaviour so you get a different outcome this time, or next time.
This is using internal accountability as a powerful internal driver!
But if you are denying your own responsibility for your actions, you will never be fully accountable, and therefore not able to use it to motivate you.
Internal accountability - the power of positive visualisation
Last week, I looked at 7 steps you can take to turn your dream into a goal.
One of these steps (number 3) was about making that goal come alive: really visualising what it would feel like to achieve that goal, the positive benefits it would bring you.
You can use this powerful visualisation as a form of accountability.
Future You wants the OUTCOME that will result from achieving your goal.
Future You wants to feel what it feels like to have achieved your goals!
Think about what it would feel like to let Future You down.
Think about what it would feel like for you to give Future You those amazing feelings of achievement and pride.
Use Future You as a powerful driver and motivator to take action.
In a previous blog post I've talked about Gretchen Rubin's brilliant "Four Tendencies" construct.
This describes four "types": Obligers, Rebels, Upholders, and Questioners:
Upholders: are very good at doing things for ourselves (inner accountability), and set by other people (external accountability)
Questioners: are very good at doing things for ourselves, but resist those set by others
Obligers: are very good at doing things set by others, but not for ourselves
Rebels: resist doing things either for themselves or for other people.
All Tendencies have advantages and disadvantages - by knowing your Tendency, you can build on its strengths and mitigate its weaknesses.
The largest tendency is the Obligers - over 40% of us find it difficult to respond to internal accountability, but much easier to respond to external accountability.
(The others are at around 20% each, with the Questioners most common and the Rebels least common).
So if this sounds like you (and I know it's me): create yourself external accountability!
First, make sure your goal is absolutely clear: I will be doing x by y.
Then, make it public, in whatever way works best for you: tell your family, put it on social media, write it in a blog post...
And finally, find some way to check that you are sticking to it.
Running programmes are a great example.
When I did that Race for Life, I used the "Couch to 5k" training programme.
So my major accountability was that I'd signed up for this race, and I was going to have to do it otherwise I'd be letting my friend and the charity down. I needed to be able to run 5k.
And my checking process was the training programme: I had mini-goals I needed to stick to, in order to achieve my overall goal for which I was being held accountable.
You can do exactly the same, whatever your goal: find a way to break it down into mini-steps so you can clearly hold yourself to account for your progress to reach the overall goal.
This will work even better if your mini-steps are also externally accountable - like a training programme that is set for you, or if you have someone to whom you are reporting your ongoing progress.
"a goal without a plan is just a wish"
(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)
Use an accountability programme
So far I've been discussing how you can develop your own tools for internal and external accountability.
But there is an easier way!
Get professional help.
In my new #Finish2020Strong Group Coaching Programme, I use these tools to support you - so you can smash your goals in the rest of 2020.
First, we make sure that your goals are absolutely clear, that there aren't too many of them, and they are the ones that will make the biggest difference.
You can't achieve EVERYTHING all in one go! So I will help you focus your efforts on achieving the ones that are going to make the biggest difference.
(I do this in your 1:1 session with me before the group coaching starts.)
Second, we make sure that your mindset is in the right place.
This means focussing on the language you are using, to make sure that you understand the power is truly in your hands.
Plus it also means making your goals really live: so that you know deeply what it will feel like to have achieved your goals.
Third, I will get your commitment to being held to account!
This contract between us (you and me, and the you and the group), is vital. I WILL be holding you to account, and that might not always be comfortable.
So I need you to publicly state not just your goal, but your commitment to this Programme: you will turn up, you will do the work, and you will report regularly on your progress against the plan you put in place.
These will be accomplished in our first Group Coaching session at 7pm UK time on Thursday 23rd July. You will leave that session with:
amazing clarity and motivation;
a deep sense of personal responsibility;
and a clear commitment that you will deliver what you say you will - and you will be held to account for your actions.
Fourth, you will turn your overall goal into a plan, and you will take action to deliver it!
And I and the group will be encouraging and supporting you all the way - while also making sure that you actually do what you say you will.
I will focus individually on each person, each session to ensure personalised, tailored accountability: no excuses, nowhere to hide...
That process will take place over the next six months, so that by our December session, you will be able to celebrate with all of us that you have achieved your goals.
And finally, all throughout the Programme you will benefit from my years of training and experience as I teach you powerful tools and techniques to help you:
manage your time and energy effectively
and overcome procrastination and limiting beliefs.
You will leave the Programme not only have achieved your goals, but with an amazing new set of skills to help you succeed even more, going forward into 2021.
At the time of publication, there are only 3 spaces left.
So if you want to join a group of 5 amazingly talented and motivated women...
...getting my expert coaching and support to help you make sure you get the best possible result from this very strange year: click here 💪
Do get in touch if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you and yours a wonderfully positive and productive week! 💖