We’ve all been there. We have great intentions. We know exactly what we want to accomplish today or this week or this month or this year. We have a plan in place as to how we are going to get there. And then life happens. We get sick, or a great opportunity comes our way to host a school (or other great organization) fundraiser, or our pets or kids get sick, people need us…and we become reactionary. It’s all we can do to keep up. We don’t want to say no. But how can we do it all? And what happened to our goals and plans?
How do you hold yourself accountable, especially as a business owner, when there is no one else imposing structure on you, no one other than you holding your own feet to the fire, and not enough hours in the day to get everything done that you want to get done and that you feel you “have to” do?
What support systems do you put in place to help yourself achieve your goals and dreams? Here are a few strategies that I have tried over the last year. Some have worked for me better than others. I’d also love to hear what has worked for you!
1. Get on the No Train! I love Marie Forleo. She has been a huge source of inspiration for me over the past few years. She often talks about “Getting on the No Train” as described in this MarieTV episode. Highly recommend you check it out!
You do not have to be everything to everyone! Let me say that again – You do not have to be everything to everyone! You are responsible for your life not other people’s (unless you have small children, of course), and it is ok to say no (even occasionally to those small children!).
The more resistance you have to the ideas in this first item on this list, the more you really need to say no to other people more often, and say yes to yourself and your life and your goals and your dreams instead! You are not a bad person for doing this and you are not letting anyone down. You are taking care of yourself (in a good way) and fully owning how you spend your time and energy. Spend it on things that matter to you…not trying to do things to make other people like you, too often to the detriment of yourself. This is your one shot at this lifetime and you don’t know how much time you have…so use the time doing what feeds you and helps you share your unique gifts with the world.
2. Getting Clear on Your Whys – I’ve talked about this before in this blog. But one thing that can be a super motivator is being really clear on your whys and posting it in multiple places to remind yourself. Why are you working toward what you are working toward…and is each activity you engage in throughout the day helping you get closer to that goal? Or is it just a distraction? If you are super clear on your whys, they can help keep you on track.
For instance, I really wanted to create a thriving business on my own terms so that I could have complete control and autonomy over figuring out how to create a life I love now…not at some point in the distant future. It is really easy for me to get completely consumed by other people’s priorities when I work for them, and I tend to lose myself (and my life) in the process. So I knew when I left my last corporate employer it was super important for me to create work that fit into my life so that I could learn how to build a holistic life for myself.
Although this may sound simple, for me it has not been. It has taken a lot of effort, but I am 1000% committed to it. There is nothing in my life more important to me than this right now (and over the past couple of years). This has been a huge motivator for me to learn what I needed to learn, and get out of my own way, in order to make it a reality for me. It’s all the accountability I need to keep myself on track to do the things I need to do to first create and now grow my business, and also my life, in balance and harmony and with as little stress and as much joy and passion as possible. And it has helped me turn down good opportunities that were enticing, but would have been easy distractions. And it has helped me stay on and own my path and purpose in this life.
3. Free Reciprocal Accountability Partners – One thing you can do is to choose one (or more) accountability partners. People that you agree to meet with regularly so that you hold yourself accountable to what you say you will do in the timeframe you say you will do it in. This is a great strategy but the key is to have the RIGHT accountability partners. Over the past year I have tried this with 5 or 6 people individually on a voluntary basis and every single one of them has dropped off (we just stop calling one another to set up the next accountability / catch up session) after 3 or 4 or 5 times meeting.
I think the hardest thing with this approach is that often we don’t want to be held accountable at our core. We don’t want to set up another appointment with someone we respect and have to tell them we didn’t do (maybe yet again) what we said we were going to do. So it is just easier to put off setting up the appointment.
The other thing that proves challenging with this approach is that most people will prioritize paid work over keeping their accountability meeting time cleared, so even if the appointments get scheduled, they are easily cancelled when better things come along for your accountability partners.
My funniest experience with this was my friend and colleague whom I respect and enjoy very much who suggested the first time we met that we should write an e-book on how to be accountability partners. Only to have her not be able to schedule more than once every 4-6 weeks, and then stopped showing up all together. I think we met a total of 3 times over a 4 or 5 month period. I definitely learned a few lessons about what doesn’t work from this experience!
4. Paid Accountability Partners – Have you ever invested in hiring a coach of any kind? A personal trainer? A health and wellness coach? A business consultant? A life coach?
My experience is that this can be a way to hold yourself even more accountable and to be sure that both you and the person you have hired will show up! If you are investing in paying someone for their expertise and to help you move forward in areas in which you aren’t able to move forward on your own, this can help you prioritize, learn new strategies, carve out the time for both the meetings and the work you commit to, and show up when you say you will show up. After all, you’ve already paid for the privilege.
I myself have recently hired a health and wellness coach (and in one month feel stronger, healthier, and better in my clothes). I just was not able to hold myself accountable to eat what I knew I should be eating, and get out there and really exercise on the days that I told myself I would. So I hired someone to help me, and it has worked for me. Plus she has helped me figure out how to make it all fun! And has introduced me to some other fun people who have similar goals! So it has been a win-win all the way around.
The key here is to make sure you are hiring someone you click with and enjoy spending time with. There are plenty of health and wellness coaches who would be too hard core for me. The one I found was a perfect fit for me, has overcome some of my same struggles, we get along great on a personal level, and I really enjoy having her in my life!
5. Hiring Support Staff – If there are aspects of your life or business that you don’t enjoy doing yourself and therefore you put it off and rarely get around to doing those tasks, you may need to find a way to hire someone to do those things for you.
I struggled with my yard for over a year. I used to have someone who helped me maintain it, and it was something we did together. So when that person exited my life, I no longer had that support system and it was no longer as fun to “do it myself”. I always felt behind and guilty and like a failure that I couldn’t do it all. Since I now work mostly from home, I saw my yard all the time (not just in the mornings/evenings or weekends as I used to). So I finally broke down and hired a small neighborhood-based company to help me with it every other week. For $100 a month, these 4 men descend on my yard and knock the whole thing out (including the weeding – yay!) in less than an hour. AND IT MAKES ME SO HAPPY!!!!! It is the best gift I have given myself in a LONG TIME!
So, what do you not enjoy doing and put off that you can hire out instead??? Do you need a bookkeeper, a virtual assistant, a yard guy or someone else to help you do work you don’t want to do? Would this free you up to focus on more value-added activities and to ultimately increase your levels of happiness and accomplishment? Aren’t you worth giving yourself that gift?
What have your experiences been? What has worked for you? How do you hold yourself accountable in a loving and compassionate way? Leave a comment below this blog and let me know! I’d love to hear from you!
Have a great week!