Many of us, myself included, will tell our friends (and anyone else who will listen) how badly we want something – be it professionally or personally; yet all too often our actions don’t support our assertions. Rather than doing what we need to do, we’ll give ourselves permission to do something more enjoyable – even though it most likely will not move us closer to our goal. This could be something as big as financial independence or as small as getting ahead in your work (school, reports, etc).
I’ve come to understand when I do this it’s not because I’m lying, I really do “want” whatever it is I’m telling people; however I don’t “want” it bad enough to make myself uncomfortable or deviate from my existing habits. This leads to introspection – is what I “want” a passing fad, prompted by an external influence; or will it contribute to my short and long term vision? If it’s a fad, I tend to let it go – I’ll actively redirect my thoughts and shift my focus whenever I find myself thinking about it, until it goes away. I do this because I don’t want to “beat myself up” about not doing something; it’s important (to me) to be clear on where I want to be and how I’m going to get there.
If it’s something that will help me on my way I’ll ask myself what is holding me back. Is it me being lazy? Am I comfortable with a routine and I don’t want to break it? Almost always it’s one of these two, so I don’t need to ask myself anything else – however if you’re reading this and neither of these resonate with you, I encourage you to find your own questions. I give myself permission to feel this way, I’m human (despite being affectionately called a “robot” by more than one person); but I will also take action to get out of the slump.
If it’s something that is going to help me along towards where I see myself in the future I need to be uncomfortable. I say this because being comfortable, in my mind, is equal to my current status quo – it has nothing to do with moving me forward. I remind myself whatever I need to do is most likely temporary; or if it’s not (like establishing a workout routine) it’s for a greater long-term good and it won’t take long to become part of my routine.
I believe accountability partners are important – when I was with Northwestern Mutual this concept was introduced to me, and it didn’t take me long to understand the value. It’s not (at least in my opinion) someone who is telling you what to do, or even judging you if you don’t follow through. Rather, it’s someone you trust and don’t want to let down – ensuring you take the action(s) you commit to taking. If you don’t execute, your accountability partner(s) should be someone you can have a frank and open discussion with about why. Was it the “right” commitment? Was there a step you missed in building towards your goal?
There is always a reason for not meeting your commitment; and (again in my opinion) it rarely has to do with an outside influence. Sure, sometimes we get sick or something happens, but if we’re being truly honest with ourselves how much of a part did this play? Could we have done more to take into account “life happens”? The best accountability partner is the one who doesn’t let it slide if you fail to meet your commitment; and, more importantly, is there to celebrate your victories when you accomplish your commitments.
So if you’re interested in taking yourself to the next level what’s stopping you? There will always be excuses and fears – many justified and warranted. This doesn’t mean they are insurmountable, rather I believe we need to decide how important something is to us. Are we willing to do explore options, even those that make us uncomfortable or scary? You don’t need to do this alone, I believe we all have someone we admire or look up to for what they’ve accomplished. They are a great place to start when looking for an accountability partner. Go get it.