On June 15th, 2007 hands trembling, I signed the contract for my book, The Complete Singles’ Guide to Being a Dog Owner. Agreeing to turn in 45,000 words in 5 months’ time was somewhere adjacent to a joke and just south of a nightmare.
Sure I could turn out a wrap-around for TV—I had been a television producer writing copy for TV hosts…Hi, I’m Tyler Florence and today we’re going to make…Gazpacho/Short Ribs/Risotto/Bouillabaisse, etc.—but I certainly wasn’t the girl who could deliver 45,000 words (or as I calculated 40-ish college papers). I wasn’t even the girl who could keep a diary.
And yet once the ink was dry, knowing I was contractually obligated to turn in those 45,000 words, something came over me. I was obsessed. On November 15th, 2007 I ended up turning in 180,000 thousand words plus charts and graphs, thank you very much. #overachiever
Clearly the disconnect between what I thought I could do and what I could actually do was colossal. Today, as a coach, I can recognize exactly why I was able to deliver my manuscript (and then some) while simultaneously explaining why to this day I struggle to keep up with this blog. The answer… ACCOUNTABILITY.
I knew I had to turn that document into someone and knowing this kept me accountable because I didn’t want to disappoint. And while committing to something outside of your comfort zone is scary, for a majority of people, disappointing someone (besides yourself) would be so much worse.
It’s not that we don’t value ourselves, and that failing ourselves is cool—okay, it might be a little of that—but really it’s more nuanced. If left to our own devices, the fear of failing overpowers the desire to get something done. Procrastination isn’t about being lazy, it’s about fear. Ahh, but fret not, the desire not to disappoint someone overpowers all, and we coaches know it!
Accountability is essential to the coaching relationship. I work with clients (and with my own coach for that matter) on the WHAT to do to move my life forward as intentionally as well as on the WHEN I will do it by. Although somewhat of an artificial construct as deadlines can always be altered (and should be if it’s too overwhelming) time pressure and the idea that the client is accountable to someone besides themselves will motivate he or she to tackle a task that without a deadline would languish indefinitely. Simply said, accountability pushes people past the inertia of procrastination and procrastination is a symptom of fear.
So, how can you make accountability work for you?
- Work with a coach—A good coach will help you stay accountable while creating an atmosphere of non-judgment and support.
- Find an Accountability Partner—You’re probably not the only one wanting to get things done and move your life forward. Ask a friend to partner up. Be sure to set ground rules about how you want to be supported and or kept on track without judgment and negativity.
- Announce your goals—Announce to the world either virtually or in person that you’ve made a commitment to do ‘X’ by ‘Y’ date and see how much that public accountability keeps you on the straight and narrow.
- Bribe yourself—This may be a little unorthodox, but it’s worked for me. Is there something you want? Like really want? Set up a deal that you will buy it, do it or visit it if you reach your goal by a certain date.
I hope this helps you and if you want to talk more…hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org