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Why is Accountability Important?

You’ve had it. No more of the same old ish day in and day out. A new year. A new you. That’s the agreement and you’re sticking to it. But will you? You may be sick and tired, but are you sick and tired enough?

One of my favorite stories is The Old Man and His Dog. Though it’s short and sweet, it wields a powerful message

A boy walked down a street and noticed an old man sitting on his porch. Next to the old fellow lay a dog who whimpered and yowled without end, to which the old man seemed oblivious. The boy asked, above all the ruckus, “What’s wrong with your dog?”

The old man replied without missing a beat, “Layin’ on a nail.”

“Laying on a nail?” The boy was genuinely confused, “Well, why doesn’t he just get up?”

The old man looked down at his dog; studied him for a few seconds, then back at the boy and replied with a shrug, “Guess it ain’t hurtin’ bad enough.”

So…Are you laying on a nail? Is it hurting bad enough for you to move and make a change? Or let me ask a better question: Are you the real reason for your pain and why you haven’t achieved your goals?

I’m not talking to people who seriously have obstacles in their way due to someone else holding them back; like suffering from a controlling relationship or a medical condition that literally can prevent a person from doing better. I’m speaking more to you who are fully capable and able-bodied, yet year after year remain in the same place.

We do live in a “pay attention to me though I haven’t really done anything” society, and though I do like the platform, Instagram is rampant with evidence of that. But also recognize that many of the successful Instagrammers you admire (or love to hate) didn’t become that way because they lay up on the couch all day. I can guarantee you that a good chunk of them aren’t faking the funk and are working their tails off behind the scenes for your likes and dollars.

At some point they decided to take control of their own lives; decided to hold themselves accountable for obtaining the life they wanted to live. They got off the nail. Now…Will you? 

How Can I Improve My Accountability Skills?

It all boils down to accountability, and if you don’t believe me, here are a few benefits being accountable can bring to your life.

Better Performance and Focus

Like I said, the modern world is designed to distract. TV, Internet, games, Netflix and Chill…Overall, these aren’t bad things, obviously. I use them myself. However, you can get into trouble when you use these things a little too much. With a few simple tweaks, you can see how to improve accountability at work and at home.

All things in moderation—including moderation—is how the saying goes, so I wouldn’t attempt to quit the Internet cold turkey. But if you’re able to lessen your exposure to distractions so that you can concentrate on hitting your goals, you may find that you get some of your mental clarity back. You may also surprisingly find that you didn’t realize how much of your mental clarity was missing in the first place!

Fewer distractions lead to better performance because your energy is now focused. Once focused, you can become more strategic with your time and effort. You can better separate the important from the inconsequential. You’ll soon discover you no longer have the time or desire to entertain distractions, but have plenty of time to become a new you.

Allows You To Measure and Keep Record of Your Progress and Success

I don’t know about you, but I’m super guilty of thinking that I don’t do enough; a workaholic’s weakness. This is a lie, of course, but it’s a narrative that I’ve been working on rewriting. One of the ways I’ve gone into battle on this is by keeping a record of the successes I’ve had and the tasks I’ve done.

It is paramount that you mark the goals you have achieved. This can help, especially, when goal momentum is slow and feels like you’re just standing still. It can also be of benefit during any readjusting of your goal plan by helping you see behavior patterns in areas you were previously blind. But more importantly, keeping a record of your accomplishments can help at the end of the year when you review what you’ve achieved and are now ready to plan your next round of success.

Better Follow-Through with Commitments

Having someone else to answer to will propel you forward. The pressure to not disappoint will encourage you to do what you said you’d do. Plus, you don’t want to make a liar out of yourself and lose the respect of your accountability partner.

It may be uncomfortable to practice accountability at first, because you’re trying to change within a few days behavior patterns that have been in practice for years. You’ll likely experience that cringe-worthy feeling of having someone potentially telling you what to do…And if you’re an independent type like this INTJ-slash-Leo, I understand these growing-pains well. 

But you can think of it more this way: it’s like having a job. When starting a job, you and your employer—your accountability partner in this case—made an agreement and developed an expectation that you’d complete certain tasks. If you prove to be committed and consistent in completing those tasks, you may be able to rise in the ranks; aka achieve your goals to become a new person or be in a new place by this time next year.

Establishes Firm Deadlines for the Most Important Tasks

Deadlines. You can’t miss them. Deadlines are the bread and butter of your goal achieving days. They are the benchmarks that keep you progressing and not regressing. Without deadlines in place, you’ll likely increase your chances of letting things fall by the wayside, and slip back into your old habit of procrastination.

Setting deadlines for specific tasks can help streamline your process and place focus where it needs to be: On that one specific task at hand. Not on the one specific task and navigating notifications from your Facebook and Instagram. Not your one specific task and shooting off just one more email to that one client.

Stop. Just stop. You’re doing more damage than helping. Multitasking is an illusion as the human brain can only successfully focus on one item at a time. Prioritize and set specific timeframes to accomplish your most important tasks one item at a time. Don’t go to the next task until the current one is complete. You’ll be amazed how quickly your to-do list is narrowed down by prioritizing and establishing hard deadlines.

Keeps You Realistic About Your Goals

There are plenty of us who love to daydream about a different lifestyle, new purse, a car, but how many of us put a plan into action to make that dream a reality? Or maybe you did make a list, but it got so long you didn’t know where to begin.

You can make all the lists you want, but if you don’t actually have any incentive to execute any of the items on the list…Then, seriously, what was the point of making it? Though you may do it to a potential love interest that’s gone sour, don’t ever ghost your goals. That’s one of the ultimate disses to yourself. Learning how to improve personal accountability by holding yourself accountable and/or finding an accountability partner for your own success is a major component to obtaining your goals.

So, stay W.O.P.E. W-O-P-E. Write down your goals. Organize your goals. Prioritize your goals. Execute your goals. With a good balance of focus, setting deadlines, commitment, and benchmarking, any goal can be put within realistic reach.

This is your time. This is your life. And last I checked, you are no howling dog, so it's time to get off that nail.

Until next time.

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