Account-ability: The Positive Change Superpower (and the 3 steps to using it)
If you’ve been reading my blog or following me on social media (or are signed up for my newsletter, which you can get on HERE) you know that positive change is my jam. I love to talk about the powerful ways we can impact our quality of life by adopting healthy habits around fitness, nutrition and self-care. I know that once folks begin to care for themselves by putting a few key behaviors into place, they start to have access to a ton of energy and that energy can be directed towards the things in their life that are actually important to them.
Helping people to find the big, impactful behaviors they can adopt that will create the biggest change in their lives is what I do because it is what makes my mission in this life obtainable: to show people how to be their strongest, happiest selves. (Because I know that strong and happy people make the kind of world I want to live in!) This is how I create positive change in the world around me.
As an agent of change, I know that the three things that have been proven most effective in helping folks adopt, and keep, new, healthy behaviors are:
--Mentorship: do you have someone on your team who has been where you are now? Someone with experience and expertise?
(This is my personal favorite part of my work; sharing with others the wisdom I’ve gained through figuring out how to make fitness and nutrition work as tools of self-care -- after lots and lots of personal trial and error, of course!)
--Consistency: are you showing up, doing what you can, as often as you can?
(Note: this has nothing to do with being perfect and instead is all about having the courage to keep showing up, lumps and all!)
--Accountability: here’s the big one! When you’re ready to make a change you need to say it out loud! You need friends, family and a team of other supporters -- folks who will cheer you on and also keep you honest so that you’re doing what you said you’ll do.
(And while this can be scary, this is actually the thing that determines whether or not you’ll succeed -- so don’t keep what you’re doing a secret!)
While you will look outside yourself when searching for a form of mentorship (whether from working directly with a coach or from being indirectly influenced by someone who is a leader in the work you are now doing), the second two things are entirely within your realm of influence. Both consistency and accountability are things you have to create for yourself.
Consistency is what produces results. Accountability is what keeps you on-track and able to maintain consistency.
Accountability is something you have to create for yourself. But you need to involve others in order to make it work. Accountability asks that you involve yourself with your family or community by being honest about wanting to make a change and what you’ll be doing to reach that goal. This is really scary for most people! It is also so powerful that few people who neglect this portion of the formula are successful in making changes.
At its heart, accountability is just doing what you say you’ll do. If you say that you’re going to start exercising on a regular basis, accountability asks that you follow through on this. Telling your friends and family about the changes you’re planning to make can help you stay on-track because now other people are going to be curious about your progress. It doesn’t mean you have to be perfect, but it does mean that you have to be vulnerable. This vulnerability is powerful because when we struggle we can say it, allow it to be true and then find a way to move through it. When we’re on our own we’re much more likely to just quietly give up and dwell in shame (which is counter-productive to meeting our goals).
Saying our plans aloud (or posting about them on social media) creates a scenario where we are involving others in our process. By reaching out to others and involving them we find that we skip over a lot of the things that may have tripped us up in the past. We now have someone to answer to and so we start to figure out ways to make our plans work, and this is what teaches us the skills to make it work long term. And this ultimately develops something that will lead us to success (and which we can carry over to anything else we attempt in the future): self-accountability.
Only the inexperienced wait for motivation to begin making changes. Those with experience know that motivation is created only after we start taking action. And that motivation pales in comparison when it comes to self-accountability.
Someone who has developed self-accountability is often looked at with admiration. People say things like, “they have so much discipline!” imagining the Herculean effort it must take for this person to do such things. But it’s not discipline, it’s self-accountability. It’s knowing that we answer to ourselves, that we are the ultimate authority of whether or not we are succeeding.
This isn’t to be confused with shaming or punishing ourselves for our perceived “failures.” This is so far beyond that! Someone with self-accountability knows that “failure” doesn’t exist; there is either success or a learning opportunity on the way to eventual success. Those are the only two options. Someone with self-accountability knows that shaming or punishing ourselves are easy outs; they are things that stop us from moving forward and so they are just excuses to not try.
And those who have developed self-accountability still reach out to their communities, they still involve others in what they are doing, the changes they are making -- because they know that they are now leaders, living by example, showing others what is possible.
But self-accountability is a process! It starts with using external accountability.
The best way to use external accountability in order to meet your goals is to follow these three steps:
1. Determine not just your goal, but the specific steps you will take to get there.
It’s easy to throw out, “I’m going to get in shape!” But what does “in shape” mean, to you, specifically? It could mean anything! If you’re not specific with your goal and especially how you plan to get there you have no way to measure your success, no way to know how to adjust to help yourself keep making progress, and most important, you get stuck in the “never enough” loop of always striving and never arriving.
Pick your goal, and try to be as specific as you can about what success looks like to you and why it’s important to you. Then work backwards to find the steps you will take towards that goal. This is what you will announce to the world: the actions you are going to take!
(For example, your specific steps to meeting your fitness goals could be to take part in my new, FREE 6 week challenge: #makeithappenworkout! You can download the FREE workout program HERE and get started immediately on showing yourself that you can do what you say you're going to do -- and having some fun along the way!)
2. Practice radical vulnerability.
AAAAHHHHHH! So scary!
Also: so powerful! Once you’ve stated the action or actions you will take -- get going! Take action and report. Take action and report. Keep showing up, being honest and vulnerable and being accountable by sharing your process.
This serves a lot of functions. It keeps you going, because you know someone else is expecting to hear about your progress. It keeps you honest: are you doing what you said you’d do? It also allows you space to share the imperfections of your process, which lets you see that imperfection is the nature of the process -- you keep moving forward anyway! And you begin to serve as an inspiration to others, as well!
3. Share every tiny victory!
Planning to go for a walk every day? Every time you do, share it! This will provide positive reinforcement (what we celebrate, we recreate), keeps you focused on what you can control (your choice of behaviors) and allows you to see how success is just a gradual accumulation of small victories.
This reflection combined with the process from the first two steps will start building self-accountability within you. Over time you will see that motivation isn’t something you need, the right amount of time or money isn’t something you need, the “perfect” situation isn’t something you need. Self-accountability erases the need for those things. Self-accountability empowers and enables you to get it done.
And it all comes from the simple act of sharing; from using the tool of accountability to help you reach your goals!
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Ready to start using accountability for yourself to meet your fitness goals?
Then I have a challenge for you! The FREE #makeithappenworkout 6 week challenge starts NOW! You can click HERE to download the program of easy-to-use bodyweight workouts that you can do anywhere in 25-45 minutes.
Use the #makeithappenworkout and #gettingitdonegetsitdone hashtags, tag me in your Facebook and Instagram posts to get encouragement and support and show yourself, and everybody else, that you can find a way to fit exercise into a fun and busy summer!
This is a great way to kick-start your fitness and learn how to create sustainable habits with exercise that will carry you into the back-to-school and holiday seasons! Sign up HERE!