How to Hold Yourself Accountable

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I’m not going to sit here and claim I’ve reached every goal I’ve ever attempted.  Because I haven’t.  In fact, I’m still struggling with some things.  What I’m going to do is outline steps I’ve taken when things HAVE worked out for me because I have accomplished some cool things: New York City Half Marathon, La Grande Classique Paris/Versaille, Tough Mudder, yes, these accomplishments are fitness related, but they’re still pretty cool…  

I was able to get to the finish because of 5 steps:

1. Know what you want to accomplish.  With a race it’s easy.  The distance is set, the deadline is set.  Fini.   But whether your goal is fitness related or not, set clear goals in concrete actions.  Being vague makes it easy to find excuses and re-frame your goal mid attempt.  It’s very different to say you want to get fit vs wanting to exercise 5 days out of the week.  If you can’t, without a shadow of a doubt, say “yes” or “no” I have/have not accomplished my action items today, you need a more concrete goal.

2. Find someone who can hold you accountable and provide you with support when you’re faltering.  This is a tough one for me.  In all those races I had a running buddy.  In the birth of our son, I had my wife.  With my dietary changes and lifestyle habits it’s not fair for me to rely on my wife so I pay someone to support me and give me feedback.  In the end it doesn’t matter if you pay someone or not, you’ve got to have someone by your side.  

3. Surround yourself with your goal.  Read books on the topic, talk to friends interested in the topic, etc.  I’ve done a fair amount of work on mindset over the past 12 months and I would never have been successful changing my outlook on life or my productivity without a coach and books speaking to that end.  The same is true with my nutrition.  When I connect with a writer I can heed their counsel.  It’s like having an extra coach on the side.  Coupled with your accountability partner and friends interested in the same topics, you’re much more likely to be successful.

4. Track your progress.  Some people recommend keeping a chart or calendar where you can put stickers or check marks.  I think that’s great if it works for you.  I’ve just started trying it in writing this blog.  It sounds like fun, but I like to write and keeping a journal has been beneficial for me in the past, so that’s what I do.  I write down the emotions connected with the action steps I’m meant to take.  That gives me an idea about what I like or don’t like, what I struggle with, where I have success, and maybe even how I’m driven.  It helps me recognize patterns so I can interrupt them with supportive choices.

5. Don’t expect perfection.  I never followed my training programs to the T and I still made it through those races.  Each time I ran one of those races I got better, but you better believe I wasn’t going out for time on my first one.  It was one of the NYC halfs and all I wanted to do was finish the thing.  Well, I did!

Most things in life are considered a “practice”: Yoga “practice”, meditation “practice”, medical “practice”…That means we’re still learning.  And if, after 8+ years of schooling an MD can call her profession a “practice”, I think you can cut yourself some slack for having eaten a piece of cheese cake for dinner last night.

Even with all these steps in place it takes hard work.  You’ve got to be committed and motivated.    That’s why we ask every prospective client how committed they are to reaching their goals.  Because no matter how much you say you want something, unless it’s in your heart, you’re not going to get there.  So, get clear on your goals, get organized around them, and get your team together to support you.  It’s a bumpy ride, but it’s worth it.

Marannie Rawls-Philippe is Director for MovNat New Haven and Head Coach at Elm City Coach, a Holistic Health and Fitness Center offering Personal Training, Group Fitness, and Health Coaching in New Haven, CT.

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