Over the past month I have been reflecting on ways to create a high sense of personal accountability. The question I’ve been asking myself is “how can I raise my level of action as if I were being held accountable for whatever I didn’t do. When I studied the success stories of others, one of the key elements in their journey was having some form of accountability whether via a coach, mentor or accountability partner. I knew how important having accountability is and wanted to create this for myself. I had a personal coach for a few months this year. It was an amazing experience but I didn’t get the level of accountability that I was hoping for. My goal was to develop a high sense of follow through whenever I said I would do something.
I searched online, I talked to my brother, I reflected some more. Finally, this week I had a conversation with a co-worker that provided the exact insight I was looking for. He’s heavily involved in a group that places a lot of importance on “honoring your word.” They view the ability to honor one’s word as a form of integrity. And “without integrity nothing works.” So I asked him, how one develops a high level of “integrity” without having someone there to hold them accountable? He reflected and started to offer a solution that involved the support of a group. Again, I reiterated that I was inquiring about self accountability to do what I said I would do without someone having to drive my behavior.
He reflected again and said, “it won’t work.” He continued “it won’t work unless the person has developed the ability to honor their word (integrity) in the small things. Meaning if the person doesn’t make their bed, and do all the other small things they know they should do but don’t, there’s no way they are going to consistently do the big things.” “It’s a muscle.” If there’s a daily action that someone wants to do to reach a goal but they are unable to do it, they should focus first on doing the small actions.
His words took me back to a time when I decided to try flossing daily. Flossing was something I never did so I promised myself to do it daily as a personal challenge. After about a week or so, I noticed that I felt inspired to do other things that I had been putting off. My level of taking action was suddenly elevated simply because I began flossing. I became really present to a bunch of other small things I was putting off and decided to do them. What my friend was telling me was absolutely right. I had developed a habit of not doing the small things in my life which is why I struggled to follow through on the bigger actions. It’s like expecting someone who doesn’t work out to go to the gym and have the strength to lift 200 lbs. The muscles haven’t been developed yet. Those actions that I write down to achieve my goals are as heavy as the 200lb weights. There’s a lot of mental attachment associated with them which is why I allow myself to break my integrity in those areas.
Since that conversation, I’ve shifted my focus from the big actions to the small (seemingly insignificant) ones. I invite you to try this technique in the week ahead. If you develop the habit of doing the small things consistently, there will be no doubt that you will honor your word to yourself in other areas. No accountability coach required.