Taking accountability and being responsible for your actions can help keep you on track to achieve your goals, whatever they may be. But how many of us do that? We’re just about halfway through this (crazy) year. Are you on track? Have your new year’s resolutions been long forgotten? Are you proud of your actions and progress, or are you making excuses to yourself for why you can’t make the necessary steps to achieve your goals? Do you find yourself setting the same goal over and over, achieving very little every time you do?
We all set goals and tell ourselves we’re going to … get healthier, eat better, learn to love exercise and commit to it, lose some body fat, gain more muscle… We create a plan, set a deadline, and move forward with the best intentions, only to one year (could be more or less) look back and realize we let ourselves down. If you’re like me, you set the same goal, come up with a new somewhat revised plan, and begin again. And again. And maybe even again.
Without accountability it can be very difficult to reach your goals. I know, I’ve been there.
After years of promising myself I’d get in shape over and over again, I finally did. I trained for a marathon, became the healthiest and best version of myself to date, and crushed my goal. Now, years later, after a big accident, one major surgery, and having passed my 50th birthday, I’ve lost that level of fitness, but I’m setting out to do it again.
How to Hold Yourself Accountable
So how did I do it the first time? Let’s talk about some strategies you can use to hold yourself accountable, and I’ll discuss the steps that worked for me. Keep in mind, everyone is different so you’ll need to find what works best for you.
1. Write it Down
This is a big one for me. If you’re a visual person like me, this is great. By writing things down, they’re listed out right in front of you and you can reference the information in an instant and at a quick glance. Everything from journal prompts, meals in a food journal, to-do lists, weekly workout routines…put it in writing. I like to refer to it over and over again as a reminder of why I’ve started and how far I’ve come.
I personally find that if I reach for a bag of potato chips knowing I’ll have to write it down and look at it in my food journal later, I’ll put the chips down and reach for something else. Alright, I’ll be honest…not every time. I follow the general 80/20 rule when it comes to my diet, so if the potato chips fall on a cheat day, I will have a few. Keywords there being ‘A FEW’!
Writing down my meals helps me. Maybe you’ll find success if you record your journey in a journal, or make daily to-do lists with smaller items that you can check off as you finish each one on the list.
2. Set Milestones Along the Way and Reward Yourself When You Achieve Them
Have you ever found that even the smallest of rewards will make you work harder or want to achieve a goal that much more? Remember when you were a little kid in school and your teacher would put gold stars or stickers on your worksheets and you celebrated if you got one? Who says that won’t work now? Does that small thrill of achievement and success go away just because you grew up? No!
Again, it’s all about finding out what works for you.
I have a confession to make: I’m a Happy Planner addict (you can click on the link at the bottom of this post to find out more about those). I have multiple Happy Planner’s and umpteen sticker books that feed my obsession, but it works for me! Putting stickers in my fitness planner or in my food journal helps me to stay on track. It’s a reward. My gold star on my worksheet if you will.
I have a goal of working out a minimum of 4 days each week. Every week I mark down in my journal on which days I’ll do those workouts (it’ll be different each week and is based on my schedule for that given week).
I use a month-at-a-glance calendar to mark down the days I achieve my fitness goals, and I use a year-at-a-glance page to record my daily workouts so I can see where I’m at for the year to date. You might find it hard to believe, but being able to put a little sticker down on paper every day, or to colour in one more block each morning, is a big motivator for me.
My diet is a little different. I record my meals in a fitness planner and those meals are entered in an online app that allows me to analyze my daily intake. Again, seeing at a glance whether or not I’ve achieved my daily macro balance or calorie goal, helps me identify where I need to make adjustments, and keeps me on track.
3. Analyze and Review Your Progress
It’s important to be honest with yourself and keep yourself in check.
If you keep eating potato chips but don’t write it down, you’re not being accountable for your actions: you’ll never be able to look back and identifiy where you went wrong, and you’ll certainly never achieve success.
Use an app to track your progress if you don’t want to write everything down on paper. There are a lot of fitness and diet apps out there that will allow you to break down everything and even see your progress on a chart.
One other thing I did was to take pictures of myself at the beginning of the year, along with my body measurements. Then I put them in a sealed envelope, to be opened at the end of the year. This will allow me to be able to look back and realize how far I’ve come.
4. Be Prepared
For me, that means meal prep EVERY WEEK. If I don’t spend time on Sundays (my preferred day) to prepare food and meals for the week ahead, I know I won’t eat right. If I have to trust myself to cook and prepare proper meals as needed during the week, I’ll reach for the quickest (and usually the worst) thing.
For some people, this may mean setting out your workout clothes the night before, or arranging with a friend to meet you at the park at a predetermined time so you have to get out for that walk or run. Maybe it’s as simple as setting out your breakfast items the night before. Everyone will be different.
5. Create a Vision Board
A vision board is a collection of pictures, images, phrases…whatever represents your goals and/or dreams. It can be as small or as big as you like. Vision boards serve as daily visual reminders of how you want to feel as well as the things you want.
I have two: one is a large cork board covered with pictures, magazine articles, buttons, and items that relate to my fitness goals. It hangs in my home office and is a constant reminder of what I want to achieve and how I want to feel. The other one, is a page in one of my daily planners. It’s there so I can flip to it wherever I am, in or out of the house, and it helps keep me motivated.
These are just a few ideas to help keep yourself accountable to you.
What do you do to stay accountable? Leave a comment and share what works for you! You can read more about my journey to restore my best self, here.
Find out more about Happy Planners here.