It’s easy to justify giving up. Especially as grownups. A grownup can make a promise to them self with the best intentions in the world. And intentions feel good. With intentions and five dollars you can buy into a low-stakes poker game.
Then, of course, life gets in the way. We all know this. Being a grownup means dealing with all the grownup things that fill up life. Bills and commitments and things. A promise to myself isn’t that important, is it? The only person I’m hurting if I go back on a promise to myself is, you know, myself. And I’m pretty forgiving of myself.
Which is a good part of being a grownup.
Unless, of course, I’m trying to accomplish something specific. Like, you know, living healthier or something.
Sometimes, I am trying to do that.
It helps to create some accountability. For some people, a promise to themselves creates enough accountability.
The rest of us need more than that.
Here’s a mnemonic device that can help out.
Make your accountability SIMPLE:
- Set expectations
- Invite commitment
- Measure progress
- Provide feedback
- Link to consequences
- Evaluate effectiveness
It goes like this…
Accountability is a question of meeting expectations. In order to do that, you need to set them first. That means defining exactly what you want to accomplish.
This is one of the most important steps. It can take many forms, but one that’s particularly helpful is getting your community to help out. Get a coach. Tell your friends. Put it out into the world in some way that will come back to remind you. You do this to make you feel like it matters whether you accomplish your goals.
Keeping a record of your progress can improve your odds of accomplishing your goals. On one hand, it can feel good to watch your own progress, and feeling good about progress can be a powerful motivator. On another, it’s helpful to know what your progress looks like so far when you’re setting short-term goals.
It’s okay to look at what you’ve done and say you didn’t do as well as you could have. You may consider adopting a rating system. Rating out of five stars works for me.
Link to Consequences
The human psyche responds powerfully to risk and reward dichotomy. I know someone who has a special bottle of wine that she keeps on her desk that’s associated with particular goals she has. Unless she accomplishes those goals, she doesn’t get that bottle of wine. It can be a powerful motivator.
Similar to providing feedback, evaluating how well your work contributes to your goals can be a good tool contributing to accountability. Maybe you have a goal to walk for an hour every day, and maybe you are. But maybe you walk at a slow pace and take frequent breaks. You’re out for an hour taking a walk, but maybe you only end up taking three thousand steps during that hour. That’s not as effective as a piece of exercise as walking five thousand steps in the same time–or eight thousand. It’s a question of the value of the work.
Practice Commitment to Yourself
At the end of the day, the only person I can hold to account is myself. I need to find motivation inside myself, because I when all else is said I can’t find it anywhere else.
I can get help, though. I can help myself toward better odds. With strategy and design, I can become a more effective self-motivator.