Accountability. Where does it start and where does it end? It seems that everyone is in need of an accountability partner – at work, friends, even me asking all of you to keep me accountable to my goals. What have we done as a human race to require other people to motivate us toward our goals? Has life really gotten that busy that we can no longer find our dreams? Inevitably in today’s work environment and with the toughening economy the finish line is getting further and further away for most of us – or is it?
Wikipedia defines an Accountability partner as a person who coaches another person in terms of helping the other person keep a commitment. The term is a neologism (newly coined term) and has gained relatively wide use since the 1990’s. It was originally used in connection with weight loss programs in the 1960’s.
Recently at work we decided to use accountability partners for our team to hold us to our business plans that we had drawn up for the year. One of my friends has also asked me to be his accountability partner in his quest for better health. And now – I have asked all of you and family/friends to hold me accountable to paying off my debt. In my realm, it’s almost an epidemic!
The issue lies in how much our lives and society has changed. We have so much technology (that is supposed to make our lives easier) we end up staying plugged in way too long. When will we reach the point that our iPhone or Blackberry holds us accountable for our life goals? Maybe we’re already there and I just haven’t seen that app yet! I honestly believe that technology has our minds ticking at a mile a minute and we just can’t take the time to relax anymore. Your average business executive can’t put the phone down for fear of the competition swooping in or the economic pressures that cause an unrelenting work schedule.
Needless to say, this week was a frightening conglomeration of being in rush hour traffic too much and working extra hours. But believe it or not – still managing to fit in exercise, time to practice the violin, learn my Spanish and read a bit of the book for my Dale Carnegie course. Talk about work/life balance!
Is the finish line getting further away? In my opinion, no it isn’t. We are inadvertently pushing the finish line away from us. It could be many reasons, fear being the biggest on the list, not wanting to disconnect from technology, improper time management, laziness, or lack of focus etc. For me, it was lack of focus – until recently. Once I plotted out what my goals were including my life goals, things got a lot clearer.
3 Simple steps – here’s how I did it:
- What are your goals? Before selecting an accountability partner, you need to understand what you want out of life. What are you passionate about? What did you want to do since you were a little kid? Start by writing down your goals – what you’d like to do in life. If you can, classify them by yearly goals (what you want to accomplish by the end of the year) and your life goals (to live by the ocean in five years – this is one of mine!)
- Once you’ve brainstormed and have a good list, find your accountability partner. Don’t just go out and randomly pick someone – like the kid who gives you your coffee every morning. Find someone that knows a bit about you and that you mesh well with. What you want is a person who is not going to be afraid to tell it like it is. You want them to push you in the right direction toward your goals. What you don’t need is a verbally abusive drill sergeant; this will not work at all. It will make getting to your goals a horrible chore that you will begin to hate.
- Set a plan and put it in motion. How often will you communicate? Will it be a phone call/meet in person? It is important to consistently meet to discuss your progress, changes you’ve made and how you’re feeling.
Tips to keep you motivated: Be consistent and Stay focused! If you have a setback, accept it and move on!
Over the next month, I’ll be posting about my budget/debt, goals and what I’ve learned in the Dale Carnegie course I’m attending.