Start, Stop & Change: accountability

When I start working with a new client, I ask how she’ll be accountable for taking action on her goals. Often I hear some variation of If I knew how to do that, I wouldn’t need coaching.

Fair enough. Which means we need to have a deeper conversation that could be called Accountability 101.

And it always starts with this: Accountability is taking responsibility for the results you want in your life. Plain and simple.

Yes, I can be a thinking partner and coach you. Yes, your family can support you. Yes, your friends can rally around you and cheerlead.

But at the end of the day you’re accountable to yourself. Your success is a result of what YOU do.

Which means if your past is littered with goals you set but never got any traction on, you need to seriously build your accountability muscle.

A great way to build accountability is with streak-based behavior.

So what do I mean? Nothing fancy—simply pick a behavior that supports your goal and then try to string together a streak of days where you do it. For instance:

  • If you’re trying to write a novel this could mean writing at least 500 words a day and maintaining that streak.
  • If you’re trying to eat more greens, start a streak of drinking a green smoothie every morning for breakfast.
  • If you’re trying to change jobs, start a streak of spending 30 minutes each and every day on activities that support your goal. This might mean revamping your resume, setting up informational interviews and reading The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention.

Having a streak of days where you’ve taken action toward your goal strengthens your motivation and builds momentum. It makes you want to keep adding to the number of days you keep your streak alive.

Two things are at work here: Staying engaged is a key component to accountability. And a little healthy self-competition is a great way to stay engaged.

There are apps for tracking streak-based behavior, you can use a plain old-fashioned calendar and simply put a big red X on each day you maintain your streak, or you can record it in your journal or diary.

However you keep track, starting and maintaining a streak is a great way to be accountable to what you really want for yourself—and that makes you the leader of your own life.

Will you start a streak today?