What does a coach do? Do they teach you or do they show you how to learn? Yes, there are always times where we need education and guidance from an outside source but ultimately the goal needs to be holding ourselves accountable internally.
Building integrity with ourselves and doing what we know is right for ourselves, our family and our planet. Maybe the best way to think about accountability is by asking yourself a series of questions: “when is accountability a problem in your life?” Do you always need to have someone hold you accountable? If that's the only way you can be successful then there is probably something bigger at play socially and emotionally. Finally, What do you really need to address to become accountable to yourself and your own goals long-term? The answer to that question needs to be addressed in order to really make progress on your own.
We have all had this happen in our lives, you tell yourself you're going to do something that you know is good for you because a change is needed and you can see the long-term health ramifications, however you can't commit to it and follow through on it. This has a profound effect on every other aspect of your life that requires self discipline and accountability to yourself? If you can’t keep this one simple promise to yourself, how can you be a good parent, get better at your profession or treat yourself with respect? You can see how this can quickly become a downhill spiral of crushing your self-confidence and negative self talk. Let’s answer this question by talking about what I do not think is the key but what most people focus on when they are trying to make a major health change, motivation.
I don’t think it’s just about motivation because motivation is not reliable, It can be a good starting point but if you're waiting for an external accountability partner to motivate you, what happens when they go away? I like to let motivation be driven by success. Build integrity with yourself one accomplishment at a time. You can do this by looking for the small wins in the behavior changes you are making. You drank your water goal for the day, celebrate that! You got 7 ½ hours of sleep, celebrate that! You showed up for your workout, celebrate that! Let these little wins build momentum and just keep showing up everyday. Showing up starts to change behavior, changing behavior starts to build habits, habits become who we are and ultimately who we want to be. This comes down to enjoying the process and loving the effects of your new healthy behaviors. You don’t have to think about the overwhelming end goal everyday but you must perform the small behaviors that will move you towards that end goal. They will pay off over time. Here are two steps to improve your accountability to yourself.
The first step is setting yourself up for success in your environment. Make it difficult to eat junk food and the things you know aren't good for you by getting them out of the house. Make it simple to eat the good foods by cutting up veggies or fruit and having them divide, in containers and accessible right when you open the fridge. You know staying motivated is challenging if not impossible all the time so don't trust yourself to always lean on your motivation and your "why" of being healthy. Prepare your environment for success!
Step two is make a different decision. There is a saying that “once the pain is great enough you will make a different decision”. What that means is once you are sick of your old choices and you continue to see the same results of where those choices will take you in the next 5 or 10 years, you simply have to make a different decision. When the time comes to either make a different decision or make the same old decision, make a different one. When you find yourself looking in the pantry for some cookies at 9:00 at night, stop, make a different decision and drink a glass of water, have some bedtime tea, and if you have to eat something, have some of the cut up veggies you prepared for a moment just like this one. Of course this is hard in the beginning but it becomes a snowball effect of one good decision leads to another good decision which leads to long-term behavior change. Make yourself a simple attainable goal and then hold yourself accountable so that you start to see you have integrity with yourself and your decisions. As you start to build that integrity you will be confident you can continue to set goals and achieve them. Yes, ultimately accountability has to be internal but that doesn’t mean getting started is all up to you. Remember that coach we referenced at the beginning of this article, they can help. They can help provide the structure initially to set up the internal accountability and they can be that external accountable source until you are ready to take over on your own. Let them show you how to learn so that you can take every new scenario and challenge life throws at you and apply your past lessons to be successful.
Eat Well, Live Well