Accountability really comes down to a question you ask yourself…consciously or unconsciously.
Here it is…and it’s not rocket science.
“Will I do what I said I wanted to do?”
The thing is that we all have things we want to do. We prioritize them. So what’s the problem? Why don’t we do what we SAY we want to do?
The answer is…because of your thinking, my friend.
Things break down in your mind.
With a thought.
Probably one that you don’t even know is there, mucking things up.
It might even be a few thoughts…
Your thoughts are standing between you and your dreams.
Most would probably agree that being accountable is the key to productivity – to getting what you want to do DONE. Let’s look at the definition.
Accountability is “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.”
Obligation doesn’t necessarily mean willingness now does it?
Let’s go a bit deeper to see what’s going on here.
First, let’s take a look at the contrast of accountability to OTHERS vs. accountability to YOURSELF.
Most would likely agree that there’s often a difference between the way you are accountable to others vs. the way you’re accountable to yourself.
- If you tell your boss you’re going to get something done by a certain time and date, you do it.
- If you book a doctor appointment, you’re there.
- If you commit to bringing a meal to a sick friend, it’s as good as done.
You have NO PROBLEM with accountability in these examples. Your obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for YOUR actions is strong.
You feel this in your bones. It’s solid.
It’s super strong.
You are totally willing to accept the responsibility that you committed to, and you will follow through.
Now let’s look at what being accountable to yourself looks like.
- Perhaps it’s around a date in your calendar to go to the gym.
- Or a desire to clean out a pile of crap somewhere in your house, or a drawer, or the garage.
- Or then there’s the ever popular weight loss goal. You decide you want to lose a bit of weight.
What happens to so many of us is that THESE types of commitments – commitments to yourself – don’t feel the same way to you.
And therefore, the accountability isn’t the same either. It feels weaker.
This commitment, or lack thereof, plays itself out by withering away or diminishing….it’s not strong enough to stay top of mind or demand action.
And that’s where regrets come in.
I see a direct relationship between lack of commitment and accountability to yourself, and the increased likelihood of having regrets.
So, for now, please take a moment and NOTICE what it feels like when you say you’re going to pick your kid up at the airport, for example.
There’s not a shadow of a doubt that you will be there for your kid.
Focus on it.
What does that certainty, that responsibility, that accountability feel like?
Now, shift into a thinking about getting on your treadmill every day or going to that regular yoga class. Even your commitment to yourself to get more sleep.
Do you have the same level of certainty, commitment, accountability to yourself to do something that you’ve prioritized?
What is the feeling you have about your obligation or willingness to accept responsibility and account for your actions around a commitment to yourself?
Does it feel the same?
Does it feel as certain? As reliable? As intense? As confident?
My guess is that it does not.
And the reason for this is because of a thought.
Maybe one of these:
“It’s OK if this doesn’t happen.”
“I can work on this later.”
“It’s more important that I get this other work done.”
Many of you also think that you need HELP to be accountable.
That you need some external accountability.
And if you had this external accountability set up, you would be more successful.
That if you tell someone else, you’ll be more accountable.
That if you log into an app, you’ll be more accountable.
OR go to a meeting, you’ll be more accountable.
That if you’re in a group where everyone is doing the same sort of activity, you’ll be more accountable.
So interesting, right?
Many people are indeed more successful when they’re in an accountability group.
It’s not because of the group that you’re more successful.
It’s actually because of the way you’re thinking about the group. That’s it’s better or easier with a group. In other words, It’s what you’re making the group MEAN that is creating your feelings, which is creating your result.
Of course, you may learn more skills and gain more insights…but under it all is a different thought.
And we all know what that means.
Different feelings, different actions and a result that proves your thought.
In the same vein, what I’d like to offer you is that the thought that created your feeling of confidence and responsibility and accountability with certain circumstances iis available to you now, in all circumstances.
Even when it comes to your accountability to yourself.
That thought, “I don’t want to let my kid down,” can be transferred and adapted to other circumstances.
- You could think that you don’t want to let yourself down, for example. Notice how you feel.
- You want to think a thought on purpose that generates the same kinds of feelings, perhaps, “I love being there for my kid.”
And also consider that it’s just a skill to think thoughts like this more regularly.
It’s a skill that you can practice, just like you practice playing tennis and driving in the snow. The more you practice the skill, the more effortless it becomes.
Thinking thoughts are are USEFUL to you are a great example of that.
So…what can you do to be more accountable to yourself?
The first step is awareness. Notice when you are accountable and when you’re not. Dig a little and try to catch the the thought that is creating your feelings of obligation to follow through on your commitment. When you’re accountable, you’re thinking one thought. When you’re not accountable, it’s a different thought. Isolate the thought for amazing insight. Open yourself up to be fascinated with yourself about what you find when you take a good look.
Second, practice thinking the thoughts that are the most useful for you and your effort to be more accountable. Make notes, put them in your phone, practice repeating them. Do what you can to put these thoughts at the forefront of your mind. Be compassionate with yourself as you’re strengthening your new skills. Cleaning up your mental hygiene takes practice.
Third, create support when you want to be more accountable and aren’t quite there yet on your own. Get an accountability buddy, join a group, download a helpful app. Make sure to do what you need to do to be a woman who’s accountable to herself. What I really want you to consider is that this support is part of your training and practice to improve your own skills.Remember, even saying that you have trouble with accountability is a thought. It’s an ingrained way of thinking about yourself.
You can start here. Can you be open to the idea that you’re getting better at accountability?
I think you can!
To learn more about how you can bring more mindfulness strategies into your life, check out the Women in the Middle Podcast! Life is short so let’s get going!