After spending a lifetime on a diet and yet a lifetime overweight, things finally changed for me when I started to do two things with rigour and purpose. I decided that in order to succeed I needed to 1. Be stronger than my strongest excuse and 2. Stop looking for somebody to blame. Now obviously I changed my relationship with food, and I moved more to create the calorie deficit but to do those things and sustain the outcome for what has now been three years, took a fundamental shift in mindset with personal accountability placed firmly front and centre.
I had to change my approach because I was an expert at making excuses for every problem or failure, rather than accepting full responsibility for my own thoughts, behaviours and actions. If I could pin the blame on something or someone else, it deflected the light from shining on my own shortcomings and meant I didn’t have to change what I was doing. If I couldn’t even take responsibility, how could I accept accountability? Realising this was an opportunity and acting on it has created a wave of positive outcomes not only in terms of weight loss but in other areas of my life too including a complete overhaul of my career. I fundamentally believe that accountability is the springboard for success, and we can all achieve it.
I think it helps to understand the difference between responsibility and accountability initially.
This is about doing the right thing at the right time, setting out priorities and acting on them without procrastination. If a job needs doing, it gets done regardless of how uncomfortable or dull it may seem. Being responsible means managing your time to accomplish the goals you set your yourself or the objectives of those you work for. When things don’t go to plan, rather than look to blame others, you take control of the situation and choose how you react and respond.
The key difference between responsibility and accountability is that responsibility can be shared with others whereas accountability cannot. Being accountable not only means being responsible but it also means that ultimately ‘the buck stops here’ and only you can be answerable for your actions. When it comes to personal accountability, I like to think of it as a holistic commitment to myself. Its about choosing to take ownership and responsibility for every result derived from the choices you make, regardless of its success and being able to be objective and learn from it.
With that clear here’s the formula for becoming personally accountable
The nagging voice inside your head is usually primed and ready with a million reasons why you can’t do something, why it’s better to postpone or why watching Netflix is a more attractive option than the task in hand. It’s so easy to give into the excuses, they seem so convincing and often require much less effort than doing what needs to be done. Taking control of the inner voice is a big element of personal accountability. When an excuse is presented, dismiss it as not helpful to you
Focus on what you want
It becomes much easier to dismiss excuses if you are immersed in what you are trying to achieve such as your goals and priorities. The subconscious mind delivers the things you focus on so if you are constantly thinking of reasons why you can’t, it will send you more reasons, yet if you constantly think about what you want to achieve, it will assist you in getting there. Write down your objectives, prioritise them and dilute the grand goals into bitesize tasks. Revisit this often and when the excuses pop up, remind yourself what it is you want to achieve and see the excuse as a barrier to this.
Share your intentions
A sure-fire way to make you accountable is to share your intentions with others. This could be with your colleagues, leaders, family or even with people you don’t know through social media. Blogging, vlogging or chatting about what you are setting out to achieve
Track your progress
Being able to see how far you’ve come is hugely beneficial as not only does it give you a sense of accomplishment it also serves to motivate further action, highlighting what’s left to do. Tracking progress will keep you honest in the pursuit of your goals. You could report in to the people you shared your intentions with so you feel accountable to others as well as yourself or perhaps use an app so you can quickly see where you are up to and what’s next.
There are few projects that can be completed by a single individual. Play to your strengths and where you know that you struggle, look for help from willing volunteers and engage them by being inspiring and empowering in your approach. If you are doing the things you love and using the capabilities of others to do the things that don’t appeal, getting to an outcome will be a whole lot easier.
Be your own cheerleader
Accept your own praise as the only praise required for a job well done. Gain satisfaction from knowing you have owned your goals and delivered the outcomes you expected, adapted to and learned from setbacks rather than searching for someone/something to blame and made it happen. You did it, give yourself a cheer and relish in the knowledge that external accolades are not required.
Review and Amend
Once accountability is something you practice, it’s important to know that it can become a constraint. If you are hurtling towards your goals, batting away your excuses, telling everyone what you are setting out to do and then it’s not working, it can feel like you are not able to STOP. This is when the review and amend process is crucial. Taking a step back and looking objectively at your progress, what is going well and what isn’t working is highly effective. Sometimes the right answer is to change direction, stop completely or do something else. This doesn’t mean you are shirking your accountability. If it’s for the right reasons, it’s about being realistic.
Celebrate your success
Accountability will deliver success and when it does, slow down for a moment, smell the roses and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done safe in the knowledge that you totally owned it!