The Importance of Accountability In Our Lives & The Tools That Keep Us On Track

Sometime during my first job right out of college, I found myself in a bad habit of complaining about life, but not actually doing anything to change my circumstances.

Luckily, a friend of mine was also frustrated with his current role, so I had someone to commiserate with. He would often swing by my desk, in the middle of the day, or after a tense meeting, and signal it was time to grab coffee and go for a venting-walk.

We'd do a lap around the campus, complain about things, and then head back to our desks and get back to work. 

But, over time, something changed. He started focusing on his habits and taking action. He stopped complaining and started talking about the new things he was doing with his side-business. I found myself alone in my complaints. 

He ended up quitting the company to start a business of his own, and our coffees moved to the weekends. Then, one Saturday, I came in with my same-old complaints and he stopped me and said...

"Hey man, I get that work is frustrating. But, you either need to do something about it, or you need to stop complaining, because I don't want to hear it anymore."

I sat in silence for a minute, not knowing what to say, and then shook my head in agreement. Then, I asked him to by my accountability partner.

Things began turning around immediately. We stopped complaining and started planning. I reviewed my finances, created a strategy, and within three months, had quit my job and set off on a new career path of my own. 

4 years later, we are still holding each other accountable. Our focus has grown from the small day-to-day things, to the big life goals we're aiming to accomplish, and we're constantly pushing each other to follow through on the things we say we're going to do. (I even emailed him my goals this morning)

That was a time in my life that I needed a friend to give me a kick in the ass!

And today, I will be that swift kick for you. Stop talking about the things you want to do. Start taking action. And hold yourself accountable.

Here are my notes from last night's Discover Your Inner Awesome Hangout to get you started.

START WITH WHY

  • The first thing you have to do when setting a goal is to start with "WHY" you have that goal in the first place. Then, once you have realistic goals set, you can create accountability systems for them. But, don't jump to the "what" before you define "why" you want to be held accountable for your goals. 

  • The exercise we did during class was to imagine your life 5, 10, 20 years down the road. What will your life look like as a result of having this consistent habit over that period of time?

  • Watch Simon Sinek's Start With Why TEDtalk.

KEYSTONE HABITS

  • A keystone habit is the #1 habit that makes all your other goals and habits easier to accomplish. They can be either good, or bad keystones. 

    • My keystone good habit is getting enough sleep. If I get 7 hours of sleep, I am killing it the next day and able to accomplish my other goals and habits much easier. (this probably won't happen tonight)

    • My keystone bad habit was drinking alcohol. I found that I wouldn't journal on days that I'd gone out the night before, and my productivity was killed by even a glass of wine with dinner. So, I removed this habit, and everything else got easier. 

ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNERS

  • You are the Average of the 5 People You Spend the Most Time With. If you're friends are engaging in habits you're trying to break, it will become nearly impossible to follow through on stopping those bad habits yourself. If your friends love working out and being active, it will be easy to join them on their way to the gym. Think hard about who you surround yourself with.

  • Why aren't you doing the things you know you should be doing? There are constantly voiced in our heads, and voices that surround us, that discourage us from our goals. You have to learn to ignore the voices that are not your own, and focus on the 1 single voice that belongs to you. What do you want?!

  • Don't have a friend, use an app, or wear the Pavlok wristband, which will shock you if you aren't hitting your goals!

BOOKS

PRACTICES

  • Daily Journaling - 750words

  • Daily writing with prompts - Daily Page

  • Write 10 Ideas Per Day

  • Avoid the "fuck it" mindset. Every decision is a new one. Just because you ate a sweet, or drank a pop, or something, doesn't mean the whole habit is ruined and you should go crazy. Just stop, be mindful, and make the next decision a better one. 

  • "The best workout is the one you do" - stop thinking you have to start with perfection and do the biggest version of your goal right off the bat. It is better to do something small consistently, than it is to do something big once-or-twice.

  • Set up if...then triggers for your habits. "Trigger, Routine, Reward" 

QUESTIONS

  • What is your keystone good habit?

  • What is your keystone bad habit?


If you know someone who is looking to bring more accountability into their life, share this with them! It is inspiring to watch all of you continue to help each other crush it in your lives and careers, every month. Keep being awesome!


-Martin