How Do You Hold Yourself Accountable?
In this week’s episode, I want to take some time out to talk about accountability. Accountability is a huge topic and one I am sure most of you are aware of to some extent, or have implemented in your own lives.
From my understanding, I can break accountability into two forms- one is internal accountability and the other is external accountability. Internal accountability is the accountability you have with yourself. You set a goal, a target or a task you want to accomplish, one that no one really knows about. It’s something only you know about and can hold yourself accountable to. They say that goal setting is one of the most important forms of internal accountability so it’s important to set strategic useful goals for yourself. Accountability can be a daily thing, like I talked about in a previous episode about having a daily morning routine. “I’m going to wake up, I’m going to do x y and z, and I am going to hold myself accountable to these things”.
Internal accountability really relies on your own willpower, grit or determination and a bit of reflection as well. Only when you are honest with yourself, can you really reflect on what you’ve accomplished. Did I do those five things that I wanted to do? Did I exercise 3 times a week like I told myself I would? Did I follow up on that patient referral or read the chapter of that textbook I wanted to brush up on? Internal accountability is an amazing tool which if you learn to implement in life, can lead you to some really cool and useful outcomes.
Another form of accountability is external accountability. External accountability is, as the name suggests, that accountability which you bring on to yourself from an external source. A classic example of this would be a workout buddy or a study partner, with whom you make a plan or a commitment. “I’m going to show up Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:00 p.m. and we’re going to go running, exercise, or study and review some chapters. Another form of external accountability is school. For example, you may find yourself saying “I have an assignment due at this time, and I need to get it done and submit it by next Monday”. This kind of external accountability can be a really useful tool as it adds pressure on us. It drives us to deliver, or fulfill the promises we have made. Through this form of external accountability, we can actually get a lot of things done.
For me personally, I used to rely heavily on external accountability. Growing up, for example, when I was going for my driver’s license exam I told anyone who would listen to me ” I’m going at so and so time, and I’m going to give my driver’s exam”. Obviously, if I ended up failing, I would be embarrassed in front of my friends and classmates. This pressure or external accountability pushed me to go and get my license, or even to get into dental school after telling people I was applying.
Which is better?
As I get a bit older, I am starting to really like and enjoy internal accountability. I like having that feeling of self-satisfaction before I go to bed when I look back at my day and tell myself “yes, I did x y and z things today and accomplished these goals. I told myself that I was going to go for a run and I did that”. This kind of internal accountability is a great way of holding yourself responsible for your own actions.
A book by Jocko Willink – an ex U.S navy seal – called “Extreme Ownership”, narrates a form of internal accountability. In the book he talks about holding yourself accountable for everything that happens to you and gives examples for the same. “It’s up to me to make my work situation, my health & fitness or my relationships with people better. It’s not anybody else’s fault. It’s not my boss’s fault that I am not progressing in my job. It’s not my patients’ fault that my books aren’t building at work.” It eventually comes down to me and how I control all these things. How I must take accountability for the things I want to accomplish.
One of the tools that I found useful for internal accountability is a to-do list. A to-do list is a great way of tracking things you need to get done. Being able to tick that off or drag it across to another column, gives you a nice rush that “Yes! I have accomplished this, and I am happy and proud of it.”
Another thing I heard in a podcast recently and haven’t had the opportunity to implement yet was from Kevin O’leary, a successful entrepreneur and businessman (also appears on Shark Tank). A form of proactivity and accountability which he has implemented into his own life is writing things to do on a sticky pad. Before Kevin goes to bed every night, he writes down three things he needs to do first when he wakes up in the morning on a yellow sticky pad. “I need to finish this project or email this person back.” When he wakes up the next day, the sticky note is right there stuck to his computer where he does his work. He immediately sits down and gets the tasks done. The satisfaction of getting this task done is an excellent form of internal accountability.
That’s one simple strategy you guys can implement right away and see the results of. Having said that, there is always a place for external accountability, especially for tasks and projects. It’s really important for people around you to know some of your goals so they can hold you accountable.
Think About What Works For You
Try all these things out for yourself and have a think; what are some things that you are good at holding yourself accountable for? What are the things you may need assistance from a study buddy, a gym partner or a business partner to hold you accountable?
The more things or people you are accountable to, the more leverage you have in the success you create for yourself.
So have a think about accountability. And let me know your thoughts about internal vs external accountability. What are some of the tools that you use to implement accountability into your own life?
Do you practice extreme ownership? Do you take ownership of things that happen to you? Or do you always reflect it off to something that is not under your control?
I hope you enjoyed this week’s topic on accountability. It’s one of my favourites and an area where I am trying to improve, for sure.
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