The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines ‘accountability’ as ‘the fact or condition of being accountable: responsibility’. As individuals, we can be accountable for people, our jobs, a project, (volunteer or otherwise), our communities and/or our faith, among many other situations where we - intentionally or unintentionally -become accountable.
Parents and those who take on the role of care-giver for an elderly or infirm relative or friend are often susceptible to burnout because they cease to be accountable for their own well-being, allowing their concern for their patient to overshadow their own need for rest and rejuvenation. Because of this, they can become ill themselves or so stressed that they cease to function well on any front.
Finding balance in conjunction with accountability to your business can indeed be a neat trick at times. A few months ago we discussed the importance of setting boundaries and it would do well to keep that in mind as we explore the subject of accountability. People tend to be more accountable when their accountability is seen through the lens of other people. We don’t want to appear to be a procrastinator, lazy or immature to those who may sit in judgement of our performance on the job or with our families. But when it comes to ourselves, accountability can be a tall order. You only need to look at the failure of a new diet or exercise program that so many of us embark upon with every good intention but sabotage lurks in wait with a piece of chocolate cake or pouring rain on the morning of a scheduled long run.
When it comes to your business, your accountability to yourself can mean the difference between success and failure. Many people who begin a start-up business have the deluded idea that if they work for themselves, they won’t have to work as hard as they had to for a boss or manager. Nothing could be further from the truth. Running your own gig is hard. It is realistic to predict you will work twice as hard when you work for yourself as you did as an employee for someone else’s business. So if you find yourself having long lunches with friends instead of putting your nose to the grindstone, you may need a little help staying focused on your priorities. And speaking of priorities, have some. Having a list of priorities - set in stone - helps to maintain your focus.
If you find some of the tasks you must complete distasteful and in consequence avoid them, try using some motivation to get yourself going. Focus on the benefits that will come from completing these tasks, ask a partner or friend to remind you about the upside of doing them and remember the consequences that will happen if you procrastinate and ignore doing them. The entire world functions on cause and effect and actions create results, either positively or negatively. But remember: inaction causes results too. Without a clear picture of the consequences caused by your inaction, you can spend your energy being reactive by responding to a Facebook post or answering texts unrelated to your priorities.
Create a structure to your day and while that may sound like a boring routine, routines are invaluable tools to keep us on task. Incredibly successful people are incredibly routinized because it helps them to be - well - successful!
So let’s devise a game plan that will help you to be accountable to yourself.
Have a Mission Statement. This can be as simple as: ‘I am convicted to work diligently toward financial independence and the vast opportunities that independence will afford to me.’
Set Micro-Goals. Micro-goals are small building-blocks that, when completed, lead to bigger building blocks and steady progress toward your goal, (mission statement)! Do one task at a time. In our multi-tasking world, that seems impossible but if you stay focused on one thing until it is completed, your list of tasks will diminish much quicker.
Use Lists Wisely. Make a list of no more than five items. If it’s not important enough to make the five, leave it off the list. As you complete tasks, you can then add on some of the tasks you initially left off the list. Review your list every night and on Fridays, studying what you accomplished, what you did not, and re-prioritize.
Reward yourself! You have to feel like you are working toward a goal so after completing a task, give yourself a gift! Leave work a bit early or take a long walk on a beautiful day or buy yourself a pretty scarf or pair of shoes you’ve had your eye on. Sales managers know the value of giving rewards to people for hitting their sales numbers. Just because you work for yourself, doesn’t mean you don’t deserve the same!