Are You Accountable?

You’re motivated and fired up.

You know precisely the type of private practice business you want to run, and your SMART goals are clear in your mind.

Perhaps the steps you need to take to move forward are less concrete, but you’re beginning to let go of negative behaviours that have been holding you back from making your dreams a reality.

Are you truly ready for change?

Making any change is challenging. We all know how difficult it is to get into the habit of starting something and sticking with it, whether we want to move to a healthier eating and exercise regime or something more fundamental such as a career change. We instinctively find comfort in the status quo. Embracing change needs courage and commitment.

You may be familiar with Lewin’s Model of Change, but let’s recap. Lewin observed that we naturally resist change, gravitate toward the familiar, and seek out our comfort zones. For effective change, Lewin’s theory has three manageable steps:

unfreeze – examine past behaviours, let go of perceptions, bias and outdated processes.

change – implement new techniques and strategies.

refreeze – embed new behaviours and procedures to avoid reverting to past habits.

As a sole practitioner, keeping motivated can take time and effort. No one is monitoring our progress, we have no one to impress, and without a sounding board we can begin to feel alone. Without a boss, line manager and colleagues to critique our work, we have no accountability.

What is accountability?

Accountability is being focused on achieving your goals and tasks. You’ll be successful and efficient if you can limit distractions and pressures. Accountability is not about punishing yourself because you recognise you’re procrastinating. It’s not berating yourself if your plans slip or you make a mistake.

Responsibility is task oriented. Accountability is not the same; it’s how you respond and take ownership of your results.

Three steps to accountability

  1. Awareness – set out your goals with timescales.
  2. Honesty – be clear with yourself or your accountability partner about what you will achieve.
  3. Reflection – review and critique your progress and be ready to adapt your plan.

Why do I need to be accountable?

Accountability avoids spending your time and effort on distracting activities and unproductive behaviours. When you make yourself accountable for your actions, you value your work and build your skill and confidence.

How do I create accountability?

Be honest with yourself

Start with SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound). If your time is limited, or you have caring responsibilities, you’ll need to factor these into your overall plan.

Keep sight of the bigger picture. It’s okay not to know everything. Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps you need to delegate some of the tasks on your list. An accountability partner can be your sounding board and help you direct your attention to the most critical aspects of your plan.

Manage your time wisely

Schedule time in your diary. Set aside several hours for uninterrupted work on specific tasks. You can do this by yourself or with an accountability partner.

Use timers and alarms or the Pomodoro Technique, which recommends working in 25-minute segments and taking a 5-minute break. Set a routine that works well for you. When you develop a pattern of spending time focused on a task that brings you closer to your goal, the sense of achievement will give you a boost.

Focus on results

Start with realistic, achievable long-term goals, broken down by quarter, month, week, and day.

If “set up my private practice” is your long-term goal, break it down into sections. You might use the following top-line headings: financial, legal, professional, location, and marketing. Under each heading, you’ll need to list tasks with timescales to meet your launch date. Working through your to-do list will keep you focused on meeting your target; sharing this plan with an accountability partner will help you avoid distractions.

If you haven’t come across Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!: Get More of the Important Things Done Today, I recommend you read it as soon as you can. No one wants to eat a frog! Choose the hardest, ugliest, most challenging task (your frog) and get it out of the way.

Set up a buddy system with an accountability partner

Find a buddy for one-to-one support. This might be a friend, family member, or another business owner. Online Facebook or LinkedIn groups can be an excellent way to learn and find camaraderie. Choose carefully where you share your new business ideas and avoid conflicts of interest. Your accountability partner doesn’t have to be a mentor, but they should understand your personal challenges and be focused on your success.

Often, we procrastinate tasks because we lack time or knowledge. An accountability partner can help you identify and overcome your barriers.

If your busy work and home life hamper your progress towards your goals and dreams, begin by identifying what you can reschedule and problem-solving. Spending a day away from distractions or hiring a professional coach can help. Another obstacle might be a lack of training. Fix your knowledge gaps through training or online courses.

Next steps

Drop me a line if you want to know more about accountability partnerships. I’d love to hear about your goals and challenges.

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