Working with people in both a coaching environment and a training environment, in one-to-one situations or in groups, their success in achieving their goals is very important, both to them and to me.
More often than not, people want to make changes in their lives but, for one reason or another, the prospect of it can scare them or make them procrastinate. As a coach or trainer, my role is to help them embrace the benefits of changing and help them take manageable steps towards making that change.
Letting yourself down
As I always tell my clients, the easiest person in the world to let down is yourself. You may leave tasks until another day, may say you will learn that new skill another time, you will start the diet/fitness regime “tomorrow”, or contact that new prospect by the end of the week. Then days, weeks, months, or even years go by and you are still not achieving what you had set out to do, letting yourself down in the process.
Sometimes, the delay may even have impact on other people, such as team members, your family, your friends, and sometimes on your health, wealth and happiness.
So, how can we get past this issue of procrastination? Of putting off what we would like to achieve?
One of the best ways to achieve progress or success is to be accountable to someone for the goal you set to learn, change or achieve something.
When you are accountable to someone else for your actions, you are far more likely to be motivated to achieve them. People are far less likely to let someone else down than they would do themselves.
Being accountable means stating your goal and understanding that you are responsible for taking actions and being answerable for them but, the main benefit is that you are going to report back to someone else. This gives you control over the process but there is both a sense of independence (you carry out your role as agreed) and of support (from whomever you are reporting back to).
Who to tell?
Think about it. Away from work, you might have a personal trainer for your fitness regime, go to a slimming club to keep a check on your weight, see a nutritionist about your diet, go to a music teacher to progress with learning an instrument, have a life coach to help you move from where you are now to where you would like to be in your life, etc. So, at home, you may speak with a friend, your partner, a parent.
All you need is someone to discuss your goals and aims, someone to talk through steps to take, possible issues, timescales, etc. Someone you report back to about your progress and someone who helps you along the way, listens to you, advises, encourages, motivates you and celebrates with you when you achieve your goal.
At work, it may be that you are set goals by your line manager, you may have accountabilities in your annual performance review, you may have tasks set by fellow team members or directors, you may have a coach or mentor to help you work on a plan and achieve your goals. In meetings, minutes should show actions, together with dates by when they need to be carried out, so you are accountable to fellow meeting attendees for completing them.
Using social media is another way to make yourself accountable. Think about it, if you declare something on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, your friends/followers will hold you to task over it and you are more likely to succeed, so as not to lose face or let them down. Just be careful what medium you decide to use, make sure it will be a supportive, encouraging environment, not one where the trolls can bring you down out of spite, just for the fun of it.
Benefits of being accountable
- Firstly, you feel responsible for completing the task you are assigned. It is incumbent on you to carry out whatever you have undertaken to complete and, if you are reporting back to someone else, you will be more motivated to complete it. We do not generally like to let people down and also lose face by having to admit we haven’t completed something which was in our power to do.
- Secondly, by having someone to report back to, or a deadline to complete it by, you will be less easily distracted and more focused in your progress. If you start by knowing what you want to achieve, what success will be like for you, and set achievable milestones (especially for bigger tasks) you have a way to measure your progress. How do you eat an elephant? In bite-sized pieces! Not that I advocate eating elephants, just imagine a life-sized chocolate elephant for this purpose if that is easier for you!
- If you are working with someone else, such as a trainer, coach, mentor, colleague or line manager, you may work out a plan or strategy to follow, so you can track your progress throughout and make any adjustments en route should they be needed.
- If you fall down in your progress, that other person should be able to motivate you not to give up, perhaps work with you to identify any issues, overcome any obstacles, be there to support you.
- You will have confidence that you are making progress by sharing steps you are making, gaining recognition for your advances and, ultimately, sharing your success.
By taking responsibility to carry out actions, and then completing them to achieve specific goals, this can lead to greater personal confidence, to more positive relations at work/home (according to those affected), increased competency and productivity, improved time management and increased trust with other people, when they know they can rely upon you.
As a coach and a trainer, I see people really grow in their lives when they have set themselves targets, either in a training environment, in their workplace or at home, and have subsequently gone out and achieved them. They report back with great delight about their success and are usually eager to get started on something new.
Although their goals are mutually discussed, challenges are given and doubts discussed, the actions taken are in their own control. They make the choices and the decisions, so ultimately they realise they are able to achieve what they set out to do. The reward is success and the increased confidence to try something else!
So, what would you like to achieve today and with whom will you share it?