Mind & Body

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


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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