Recently, an accountability client of mine said that our weekly calls were too infrequent. That was the first time I had heard that from a client. So I asked, “What do you prefer?” Her response was that she knew she needed daily accountability.

After she said that, I wondered how many of us might be in that same mindset.

Upon further discussion, she asked me to receive her texts every evening on the 2-3 things that were most important to get done that day. As her accountability coach, I said yes, of course.

Prior to that, she and I had an agreement that we would talk once a week for ten minutes to discuss what she had accomplished last week and what were her plans for this week. We did that for several weeks.

Holding our agreements with ourselves

Each week, she came to the call feeling embarrassed that she had not done what she had stated what she had wanted to accomplish. She felt ashamed.

She felt she needed more frequent accountability. Thus, we agreed that she would send me her daily texts.

As you can imagine, the rest of the story goes like this…. She started out texting me every evening of what she had accomplished. Then she missed one evening. A text came through the following morning. Yes, I thought, we are back on track. Then again, a missed text happened in a few days. Again and again.

In our next weekly phone call, I asked what happened to the consistency of the texts. She explained that she simply could not find the time to do it on a consistent basis.

What is it all about?

So did she really want accountability in her life? I submit that she did not. She thought she did. However, her actions did not align with her words.

It is all about mindset.

It is all about honoring the promise to yourself.

It is all about habit.

It is all about taking the thinking out of the process and just doing it.

It is all about accepting the routine.

Impact of habits

I do think that there are aspects of our life that we allow ourselves off the hook, to be lax, to be unaccountable. On the unimportant areas of our life, that behavior may be ok. On the areas that impact our job, relationships or our business, it is not adult-like or acceptable.

Every habit we have, whether it is good or bad, was once started by us. We decided. We had a choice.

A habit I created at least 8 years ago may not make sense to another person looking at my life in terms of time or dollars. I enjoy coffee from a specific coffee place (no, it is not Starbucks) near my house. I have a coffeemaker at home. I have coffee. Why do I get in my car and pay for coffee?

First, one has to look at how a habit got started. When I was working at my corporate position and commuting, I stopped by this coffee place every morning. I liked the taste. I liked the person behind the counter who pleasantly greeted me each morning. I liked having the cream in my coffee. I enjoyed drinking the coffee on the way to work.

Next, even when I stopped commuting I continued to go to this coffee shop each morning. Why?

It was habit. But also, the value of this habit was that it signaled the beginning of my work day. I would go there, buy the coffee, and then come back to my home office – ready to work.

Yes, I liked the coffee, but the other factors caused me to want to continue the habit.

Honoring our promises to ourselves first

Just as my client had promised she would text me each evening and didn’t, did it really matter to me? Not really. The person who it really mattered was her keeping the promise to herself. My role as an Accountability Coach is to:

1.   listen to exactly what you want to accomplish

2.   clarify any ambiguities and deadlines

3.   challenge your thinking if the task(s) seem larger than the potential time available

4.  offer suggestions on how to break down those larger tasks or projects

5.  obtain your commitment and agree upon the consequence if not completed

When the little promises cannot be kept, then it is a huge signal that the big ones cannot be kept either.

Start small. Build your confidence that you can make promises. Show yourself that you can follow through.

From there, you will build to bigger promises and commitments.

Do you need daily accountability or will weekly be the best?

Do you need an Accountability Coach?