Reality Check: To Grow Accountability

I have many good intentions. Perhaps you do, too!
Those intentions include plans for what I will do for others as well as what I need or want to do for myself. They range from lofty to mundane; from developing new skills to cleaning under the sink.
Big or small, they are all good intentions and I truly intend to do them someday. When I have time.
If you also have a collection of undone good intentions, then I can assure you that you are not alone. While the wording may differ, a recurring theme that I hear is, “I know I need to get started but…”
Rachel has a habit of missing her own goals. She always pulls through when she’s made a commitment to someone else, but when it comes to her own personal development, she struggles.
Rachel knows there are important actions that she needs to take in her life. Yet she can’t seem to manage to set those goals, define those timeframes, and stick to them.
As Rachel sees it, there are two reasons for her difficulty. The first is obvious: even though her personal goals are very important in the long run, they get pushed aside by less-important, but more urgent activities.
How can she find the time to do something big and important, such as explore career advancement opportunities, when the dog needs to go to the vet and her mom’s birthday is coming up?
The small urgencies overwhelm the important long-term goals. “I’ll get to it when things calm down.” But that time never comes.
Rachel’s second reason is that the actions that go along with big, important plans are so difficult! And when you start with a large goal, you don’t necessarily get any immediately satisfying feelings of making headway.
Small, urgent things are easier somehow. Rachel knows how to take the dog to the vet and when she’s done, she’s satisfied. She knows how to plan her mom’s birthday, and when her mom hugs her after the celebration, she’s happy.
However, when Rachel looks at big plans, like exploring her career, she feels overwhelmed. She knows she wants to start, but first, she needs to clean off her desk and organize her pencils. Then, whoops! It’s time for lunch already. And so it goes.
Aside from the lack of satisfaction that comes with this undone goal is also guilt and self-doubt. She questions herself, “If I can’t get even this small thing done, how can I think that I could succeed in a demanding career?”
What to do? One method to help herself with her own accountability is to find someone to be accountable to. Rachel could ask someone she trusts to be her mentor.
If Rachel is faced with admitting to her mentor that she’s let her goals slide, it may give her that extra little oomph she needs to put in the effort. Teaming up with a trusted person, rather than forging on alone, could help Rachel grow her accountability.
How would you find a mentor? Look around at your circle of friends, acquaintances, community leaders, and workplace contacts. Even if you don’t know them well, it may be more effective to choose someone you respect rather than a close friend (who may too easily accept your excuses!)
Then what? Ask. Many successful people want others to be successful, too. They want to help those who want to help themselves. You may not realize that successful people often have or have had mentors themselves. They understand the value, and may very well want to “give back” to someone who will value their advice.
What if they say no? Choose someone else. Try again.
Do you see the value of a mentor? Do you have a mentor?

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