Accountability: The Crucial Inner Work that Leads to Success
“I need accountability. Is this program going to give it to me?” I stifled the chuckle and said, “That’s not something I can give you, it’s something you decide to do.”
Accountability will be the difference between success and failure for many of us, for a lot of reasons. Whether it’s that new online business you’re starting up or the fitness plan you’re starting this month, it’s staying accountable to your own goals, dreams and vision for your life that creates the success.
When I heard, “I need accountability,” I laughed a little because you don’t get accountability habits from someone else. The best we can get from someone else is a reminder to be accountable, some guidelines, a little check-in, some homework or maybe deadlines. In the end, the action is up to you and you alone. It doesn’t matter if you meet with your accountability buddy or your group, or how many times they ask you, “How’s that goal coming?” The action and the motivation you need to take it is still up to you. Does it help to know you’ll have to report in? Sure. But that should not be the reason you actually get the work done.
If you’re finding accountability is an issue, it's time to ask yourself some difficult questions that could bring up some emotional baggage for you. Not staying accountable to the things you say you want the most in life probably means you’re having trouble understanding your worth in the world. And remember, you were born, so you’re worthy. It also might mean that all those things you want come from other people telling you what you should want, not from your actual desires.
“Leadership gurus are often asked about the difference between management and leadership, and how to make the transition," says author Paul Gibbons. "My two answers: accountability, and inner work.”
This inner work is crucial. Read the rest of what Gibbons writes in his article, Accountability: The Difference Between Management and Leadership. The inner work is what makes the difference between someone who relies on others for their accountability and someone who knows they are responsible for it and gets it done no matter what.
As a health and wellness practitioner, I made a life and career out of this inner work. I’m happy to say accountability is never an issue for me; my vision, dreams, goals and desires stay at the forefront of my mind and are backed up by consistent action, no matter what my inner critic is telling me in the background. That took practice. Accountability groups or not, it was me who had to get over the roadblocks and resistance and get the work done.
The trick here is getting over the doubt, worry, and fear, over and over again, and moving to the action you need to take. Taking action with all of those feelings will be how you stay accountable to the things you want to do. But that alone won't be enough. Your passion meter has to be on full tilt. The work has to be passion-driven, not obligatory.
Now, about those hard questions I mentioned. If you’re looking back at the year, and your life, and discovering the habitual pattern of not staying accountable to your own goals, I want you to begin to bust up that conditioned mindset of yours and start to question everything. Start with these powerful questions, and use them as journaling prompts, or even great conversation starters with your accountability groups, to get you moving toward your goals:
- Am I clear about my deepest desires and goals for my life?
- Why do I want what I want?
- What else is possible for me this year?
- What am I making the feelings mean, and how can I take action anyway?
- Am I making excuses, like, “This is too hard,” or “I don’t feel like it today?”
- Do I feel passionate enough about this goal? Does it wake me up in the morning with excitement?
- Is my vision big enough that other people want to help me achieve it?
- Am I putting my goals onto the calendar?
- Am I protecting the time I’ve scheduled and getting things done?
- Am I sharing my goals with others and being out loud about my vision?
Remember, if it’s not out loud, it’s not real. Decide what you want and why you want it, and then get it on your calendar. Follow that up with some heartfelt sharing with a friend, and then take the action! Accountability is all about moving through the feelings and doing what you know will create the future you dream of.