A Facebook Question
Today one of my long-ish time readers, the lovely Peta-Gai, sent me a message via Facebook. I thought her enquiry was broadly relevant and I figured that my response might be of interest to some of you. So, here is PG’s message and my thoughts:
“You talk of accountability systems in your last blog post…can you please share in your next post how to create such systems and what works best? I need help with this bit. Thanks heaps.”
If (like PG) you’re familiar with my work then you’re probably sick of me telling you that motivation (while handy when it’s around) is not the key to creating forever results; the thing we’re all chasing. I’m certainly sick of saying it but sadly, too many people still buy into the ‘I’ll get motivated and then I’ll change my life forever’ myth, when the common experience tends to be more in the ‘I’ll get motivated and then I’ll get de-motivated’ realm.
In the Zone, Out of the Zone…
We all know that peaks and troughs of motivation are a normal part of the human experience, so the challenge for us is not to stay permanently motivated (pumped, excited, in-the-zone) but rather, to stay committed, productive, focused and proactive in the middle of our fluctuating levels of motivation. Which is why accountability is such an important ingredient in the success recipe.
An effective accountability system encompasses the not-very-emotional things like organisation, structure, assessment and strategy. Not surprisingly, many people fail to achieve their goals simply because they have no post-motivation plan. Eventually their motivation dies and so to do the transformational behaviours. And so to do the results. They then languish in some kind of de-motivated state waiting for a new wave of motivation to hit them. In many ways, their potential is held hostage by their emotions.
Overall, a crap plan.
Sometimes it Sucks
So PG (and others), to keep it simple and practical, an accountability system is any strategy, technique or process that will keep you doing what’s required (to change your life), even in the absence of motivation, fun, convenience and comfort. The reality of the transformation journey is that sometimes (often?) it’s not fun, easy, quick, convenient, comfortable or sexy. And sometimes it sucks.
As a coach, one of my biggest challenges is to prepare people mentally and emotionally for the practical reality of doing what’s required to create sustained real-world change. My experience is that some people are enamoured with the theory of transformation and the feeling of short-term motivation while not being prepared to work hard enough for long enough.
And when I say some, I really mean… many.
The Best Plan?
PG, in reference to your “what works best” question, there is no single (best) answer. Which may not be what you want to hear but it’s the truth. As with many things (diet, medicine, psychology, relationships, spirituality, etc.), different things work for different people, which is why my best strategy won’t be yours and vice-versa. Over the years, I’ve used and recommended things like performance diaries (where we record results, behaviours and relative data), exercise partners (we don’t want to let someone else down), regular assessments (to provide us with objective feedback regarding our progress), monthly targets (to help us stay focused, proactive and committed), non-negotiable appointments (ones we can’t cancel!), incorporating a professional (doctor, dietician, psychologist, trainer) into the process, daily, weekly and monthly to-do lists and lots more.
As you consider this post, keep in mind that all the intentions, plans and accountability measures in the world will amount to nought as long as we take a “this all seems too hard and isn’t there an easier way” attitude into the process. The moment we stop looking for the easy, glamorous, painless solution is the moment we increase our chances of succeeding.