As a prelude to the Motivation Series, I thought what better topic to talk about than accountability; the foundation from which to build upon. Now, I’m probably going to be divulging some pretty unpopular opinions as it pertains to accountability and its uses in wellness goals or really, any type of goals. As a reminder, wellness goals here include all parts of our lives, not just the “get fit, get right” kind of wellness. Let’s think about it; our state of wellness isn’t exclusive to how we look, what we eat, or how much we may or may not workout. Wellness is also about how we decide to approach those goals, how we maintain them and how all of that makes us feel. It will also include our relationships; with ourselves, with others, our work, finances, and basically everything that falls on the life spectrum.
Our initial motivations to pursue goals come with a desire for change. We don’t start writing down goals because we want things to stay the same, right? We make plans, aim for our goals in order to improve upon ourselves in some way or the other. But, it’s also difficult. Juggling a bunch of things on a daily basis can be easily overwhelming and without that initial spark of motivation to keep us going, we are apt to want to give up on those things. How do we keep on going, when we are no longer motivated and will we get past that unmotivated point? This is where the whole notion of accountability comes in and where I may be revealing an unpopular opinion.
First, what’s accountability having to do with any of this and why is it important to approach it in my not-so popular way? The way I often hear about accountability is by having to be held accountable, oftentimes by some external source (i.e. person). For example, this can be your friend checking in on you to see that you’ve stuck to your new fitness routine you said you would. It can be your family making sure you have done x y z because you mentioned once, you were planning on working on something. This method of accountability may work for some and the same people may even say it’s their preferred way to stay on track; by having someone remind them of set goals. However, I find it somewhat troublesome because it takes away, to some extent, the power from the person and gives it to another. It relies heavily on external prompts. It in some way lends itself to forgetting one’s own motivations and now you're subconsciously being driven by the desire to not let someone else down or to prove to someone else that you did what you said you would be doing for yourself. This train of thought can lead to feeling guilty and maybe in some cases a lowered self-esteem for not showing up to others the way you said you would.
The thought of being held accountable because you know someone else is watching or keeping tabs, can be counterproductive to personal development and growth. I think this is so because this method of accountability lacks an evergreen component which is being able to be self-sufficient regardless of any external factors. Meaning, if you want to remain motivated, no matter what the circumstances are in life or who may be in it, your idea or sense of accountability is better off coming from inside yourself. You can be rid of any shame or guilt there may be tied to having someone else make sure you reach your goals.
Let's say you do prefer the “buddy system” approach to staying motivated, what if that person isn’t available when you need? What if all of a sudden, you gather, you couldn’t care less what that person thinks anymore? What if being part of that buddy system means mimicking behaviors that are not in alignment with your own? These are reasons why the buddy system or having someone/something hold you accountable just won't work at times and is ultimately not a reliable approach to remaining accountable towards your own goals. What is evergreen, is that we are, no matter what, always with ourselves. Whatever happens in a day, we can always come back to ourselves. We can reevaluate, reflect and check in with ourselves, take note of what is working or what isn’t. We can do all this without the noise or confusion of external factors. We can put our efforts towards learning how to be more self-sufficient and resilient and in turn, holding ourselves accountable for our goals and how we achieve them.
There’s nothing like setting a goal and making yourself proud. Holding ourselves accountable without an external factor involved allows us to form stronger bonds with ourselves. We can shift as needed, move forward as desired, without the subconscious fear that anyone or anything will judge our next move or method. We can have the peace of mind that the moves we make are all part of the bigger plan and that every small step we take, is intentional, thought out, and our own.
Let’s learn to know that we are enough and we can be all we need to remain motivated in anything we set out to do.