Make A Plan

Accountability & The Little Victories

How are you accountable for your goals? Who holds you to the highest standards? For some own personality drives us, but for other’s that isn’t enough.

Research on accountability suggests that those who share their goals are more likely to achieve them. You push snooze when you’re alone and nobody can call you out on it, but if you push snooze when people are expecting you to be somewhere you let them down. That doesn’t mean posting every workout, gym selfies and endless maps of the miles you’ve done, but it does mean publicly stating your goals for your friends to see. It’s a simple as that, share it and then forget about the fact you’ve told the world or your close friends, for many, that gives us that extra grit to get out of bed on a cold winters morning, and places it in the forefront of our friends minds so they can check in on how you’re doing. It fortifies our ability to continue through the process (more on that later)

That’s one solution, another is to train with a friend, or join a training group. If you have somebody relying on you to turn up to an activity then you’re less likely to press snooze. It’s plain and simple, we don’t want to let our friend down so it shifts the focus to their goals instead of our desires (normally for more rest). Exercise partners provide a powerful combination of support, accountability, motivation and, in some cases, healthy competition. “They can play the role of teammate, co-coach and cheerleader — all while working out,” says Michelle P. Maidenberg, PhD, MPH, clinical director of Westchester Group Works in Harrison, N.Y.

Of course, those are all well and good if you know what your goal is and how to achieve it, but without a plan accountability is nothing. You won’t reach your goal if you don’t know the best way to get there. That’s where a personal trainer or coach comes in! Whether it’s online correspondence or in person. At a basic level they’ll provide a custom plan for you, focussed on your goals and the best ways to achieve them. If you start working as a small group then they can guide you & a friend to achieve your goal, whilst you both provide accountability & motivation for each other.

Working with a trainer shifts the focus away from the long term goal and help us to forge a process mindset, where smaller victories can be achieved en route to the bigger goal. If we don’t learn to love the process and trust in it then we won’t be able to achieve our bigger goals. Obsessive passion with no reward can lead to burnout, and when we look at endurance training, overuse injuries can be driven by a singular focus on the ‘A’ goal, the desire to reach a goal no matter what the cost can be harmful.

A process mindset leads to what researchers call a ‘harmonious passion’, which is different from the kind of ‘obsessive passion’ that comes from over-focussing on goals. So think about how you set your goals, how you focus on them, and who holds you accountable. A 2011 study published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise found that the exercise habits of people you know have a positive influence on your exercise habits.

Just like the adage says, ‘if you want to go fast, go alone. if you want to go far, go together’