Mind & Body

No part­ner? No prob­lem. You alone hold the key to reach­ing your goals.

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No train­ing part­ner? No prob­lem. Here’s how to hold your­self ac­count­able.

if you’ve ever made a pact with a friend, co­worker or spouse to hold each other ac­count­able for reach­ing a goal, you know the strug­gle is real. While some ac­count­abil­ity part­ners are a match made in heaven, oth­ers can be flaky, bossy, un­re­al­is­tic or even toxic. But truly, if you’re look­ing for that one mag­i­cal per­son who will change your life, look in the mir­ror be­cause there’s sim­ply no one bet­ter to count on than your­self.

“When you hold your­self ac­count­able, a sense of own­er­ship, mas­tery and pride is cre­ated,” says Dara Bush­man, PsyD, NBCCH, RRT, a li­censed clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist in Pem­broke Pines, Florida, adding that those who are not ac­count­able feel a loss of con­trol and of­ten leave tasks in­com­plete or com­plete them with a lack of pur­pose. “Hold­ing your­self ac­count­able cre­ates pat­terns of con­sis­tency and con­ti­nu­ity and em­pow­ers au­thor­ship of your des­tiny. When com­mit­ment is achieved, a pro­found pur­pose is cul­ti­vated and in­tegrity is es­tab­lished.”

Putting It Into Prac­tice

Whether you’re try­ing to be con­sis­tent with your work­outs, cook more whole foods or save more money, there is noth­ing like the feel­ing of ac­com­plish­ment — it is the essence of strength and power. “Feel­ings of ac­com­plish­ment lead to con­tin­ued suc­cess,” Bush­man says. “Set­ting an in­ten­tion for ac­count­abil­ity puts out to the world how you would like to see shifts and trans­for­ma­tion hap­pen in all ar­eas of your life.” Here are five strate­gies she sug­gests to set your­self up for suc­cess:

1. Be re­al­is­tic. Cre­ate goals that fit with your lifestyle and that you know you can reach or even ex­ceed. Ex­am­ple: Set a goal to work out three days a week to be­gin. You’re likely to add a day onto that sched­ule down the road as it be­comes an en­joy­able habit.

2. Per­son­al­ize your plan. It is more nat­u­ral to want to be ac­count­able for things that are fun and that you feel good do­ing. Find your strengths and use what works for you.

Ex­am­ple: If you don’t en­joy cook­ing, vow­ing to cook ev­ery night will be pure tor­ture. In­stead, set a goal to cook two times a week and you’re much more likely to do it.

3. Loosen up (a bit). Hav­ing flex­i­bil­ity and al­ter­na­tive op­tions within your plan helps you main­tain ac­count­abil­ity.

Ex­am­ple: If your plan is to or­ga­nize your house, have more than one sys­tem in mind. For ex­am­ple, if your sweaters don’t fit per­fectly in a drawer, be will­ing to fold them dif­fer­ently to store in a con­tainer on top of the closet. That way if one method doesn’t pan out, you still have an al­ter­na­tive to quit­ting

4. Pri­or­i­tize and sim­plify. List your pri­or­i­ties and make a plan of ac­tion with which you can no­tably mea­sure your ob­jec­tives. Es­tab­lish one goal to be ac­count­able for at a time, then build on ad­di­tional ar­eas or tasks.

Ex­am­ple: If you have over­whelm­ing credit card debt, rank your bills in or­der of pay­off pri­or­ity. Choose one to start, then cre­ate an ob­tain­able plan to dis­solve your debt, per­haps cut­ting up the card it­self or putting aside $50 a week to pay it off. Then move to the next one.

5. Iden­tify goals ver­sus ex­pec­ta­tions. When an ex­pec­ta­tion is not met, one feels un­suc­cess­ful be­cause it is of­ten pow­ered by ex­ter­nal stim­uli or ex­ter­nal ac­count­abil­ity. A goal is pow­ered in­ter­nally and can suc­cess­fully be ac­com­plished with self-ac­count­abil­ity.

Ex­am­ple: If your goal is to lose 20 pounds and you lose 15, you see the pro­gres­sion and main­tain mo­ti­va­tion there­fore in­creas­ing your in­ter­est to re­main ac­count­able. If your ex­pec­ta­tion is los­ing 20 pounds and only 15 pounds is shed, it is seen as a fail­ure and cre­ates greater ease to veer off path.

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