What if you had a tool that helped you fulfill your highest priorities—week in, week out—with less difficulty, not more? What if it were free? I venture to say you have that tool: accountability. Not so much in the formal sense, but maybe in the informal sense.
Accountability in Action
Back at the beginning of January, my friend Tom wrote to wish me a Happy New Year and to ask if I would serve on his advisory board, a concept he had gleaned from an article in Fast Company (10 Steps Towards a Better, More Productive You in 2015). He offered to fill a similar role for me.
I really had to think about it.
You know how it is when you get back from a long day of cross-country travel, as I had the night before: You’re exhausted, you’re surprised and grateful if there’s food in the house, and you still have to unpack. The last thing you want to do is add something new to your routine, no matter how life-giving it might prove to be in the long run.
So I asked Tom to give me a few days to settle in. Then, after we traded a few more emails across the miles, we began the process of sharing weekly goals and outcomes. I didn’t always like it. For one thing, the exercise brought me face to face with areas of my life where I needed greater focus. Still, we hung in there, and gradually the whole thing became easier.
Now, as we reach the end of the first quarter …
You might say the weekly check-ins have taken on a life of their own. In addition to our usual exchange on Sunday nights, Tom and I often check in once during the week (all of this by email). We share victories, virtual high fives, and pictures of the occasional food splurge.
If the only outcome of this ritual were fun, that alone would be reason to recommend it. But as I look back, I also see the more tangible benefits: Work is getting done sooner, and to a higher standard. Hobbies that lied dormant for years are now providing regular enjoyment. Needs for exercise and socializing are getting met, as are spiritual needs. The weekly goals are becoming more substantive, well-rounded, and challenging.
What started as a ritual has turned into a fun, key ingredient in quality of life.
If I can do this, you can do this.
Each of us has at least one friend who could support us in making good things happen. Why not get together with that friend and come up with your own version of weekly accountability? Give it three months. They might turn out to be the best three months of your year, thus far.
“What I am looking for is a blessing not in disguise.”
– Jerome K. Jerome