In our busy business lives, juggling multiple priorities, sometimes our best-laid ideas never make it to fruition. We have every intention of launching an industry-changing product or writing a life-changing book, and know that we are perfectly capable of doing it, yet it doesn’t happen. The idea either never gets off the ground or never reaches its cruising altitude.
Some of this situation may be explained by procrastination. For tips to beat procrastination, see here. The often larger missing piece of the puzzle, however, is accountability. We don’t always have bosses asking us to report out on our progress. At the end of the day, sometimes we only have ourselves to answer to, and quite frankly, that’s just not scary enough. Many of us know what needs to be done and have everything in our power to do it, yet we don’t see it through. The good news is that we don’t need to go it alone. Externalizing accountability keeps us on track.
It is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of incredible strength, to recognize our limitations and ask for help from others. This may take the form of a formal coaching relationship or of an informal accountability call with a friend or colleague. Knowing that someone will be asking us if we did what we said we were going to do is exactly the kick in the pants we need to get it done.
Just like we would never intentionally miss the deadline to deliver something to a client because we know they are counting on us to come through, we would not intentionally blow off the social media calendar we committed to developing if we knew someone was standing by to see it.
A coach or accountability partner helps keep us on track. They ask “Did you do X, like you said you would?” And we hate to say “no.” Because then we are admitting to them and to ourselves that we fell short. So we do what we said we would do. And week by week, we get closer to reaching our goals.
Accountability in Action: My Story
Upon launching my business, I told my business mentor that I would be sending him a weekly status report. Knowing that I committed to sending it to him and that he was waiting to receive it was exactly the motivation I needed to force myself to reflect on the work I’d done over the past week and the work I planned to do in the coming week to keep myself focused on the right things.
One important dynamic worth mentioning is that sometimes our priorities change. What we committed to doing is pushed down on our priority list because something else legitimately became more important. This does not undermine the coach or accountability partner relationship. Instead, we explain the logic behind the reprioritization and provide an update on what we completed instead.
With a coach or accountability partner to help keep us focused and moving forward, our plans can become reality and our goals can be achieved. We have the potential to be infinitely more successful with a partner in our lives holding us accountable to doing what we said we would do.
Don’t love the idea of needing to be accountable to another person? Although that’s the best method of accountability, there are several apps out there to help. Check out Habit List, irunurun or GoalsOnTrack. We’d love to hear your tips for holding yourself accountable. Please post them in the comments section below.