…I’ve discovered something recently. Most of my life I’ve never really had much of it, accountability that is. No one pushing me to do this or do that. I’ve basically drifted lackadaisically through existence trying this and trying that, never really having a direction or purpose.
This I’ve discovered has carried over in the form of some bad habits. One of the worst of these bad habits of mine is never finishing what I start. I’m always starting this project and that project. Writing down this idea and that idea, but what happens is; they will sit collecting dust in some dark corner of my brain until one day something jogs my memory and I'll work on whatever for a few and then start remembering some of the other projects I've pushed aside, so I start to pull everything else out and try to get everything done, just to finish nothing instead. So, discouraged I’ll push them all aside and try some online tutorial thinking the answer is just another “Hello World!” away. Is this not the definition of insanity, repeating the same actions getting the same results but doing nothing to change it. But where do I go next and what should I be doing to change those habits into something positive?
As a CIS student, once my classes start, I have no time to learn or do anything but what they are teaching. And though I do thoroughly enjoy my education, I feel at this stage I am lacking a bit of the real-world experience and skills needed to get a good job in the software development industry. There is so much to learn still and there are often times my head is just spinning with information and I end up lost wasting valuable time on something that is useless to me at this point. If I could just finish up even a single project, I would be happy but instead, I become distracted by all the little things and end up lost, wishing there was a better way. And fortunately, there is!!!
With the help from going back to school as well as talking to some good people online that have been above and beyond resourceful in helping me to realize a new strategy for taking on my life’s challenges and maybe even the chances of finishing some of the things I have been starting. It is hard to finish something I have realized if I am not being held accountable to finish. There is no pressure or push to finish and succeed so why even bother is my old way of thinking?
The thing is though, with my schoolwork and school projects, I always finish on time and with decent grades. So why is it I always find a way to finish this work but can never seem to get up the energy to complete one of my own personal projects? You guessed it, Accountability! In school I’m held accountable for my work and if I don’t finish there is a consequence. With my own side projects and learning, if I don’t finish who is ever going to know the difference, right?
This is an attitude that becomes toxic to oneself and for myself, it is what I believe to be a relic of my past. Not to put blame on anyone or anything because I do not like to play the victim and being able to realize this shortcoming in myself has really helped me to start working on ways to combat the lack of accountability that has really been the biggest obstacle for me in my life personally. I was surprised at just how many people actually struggle with the same problems as myself and just exploring the solutions offered by so many has really helped me to regain a bit of the positive momentum back in my life and that has been one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever felt, productivity with purpose. Once you begin to get the forward momentum up its just a matter of building some more good habits on that foundation. There is really an abundance of information to help us become more productive and accountable online and it was really tough picking out only a couple but I didn’t want to seem too repetitive in the information I was giving so the articles I reference I feel have been written well and have touched on the key points that were a common thread amongst most of the stuff I was researching.
Instead of just reiterating the words or ideas of the great writers before me I will simply explain and link to the” master” articles from which my information has been taken from. So, let us begin exploring some of these articles and techniques now, shall we?
In the article “Manage Yourself: 10 Ways to Make Yourself Accountable at Work, in Life, and with Money”, David Weliver does a great job of giving us a list of 10 things we could be doing to help us begin to manage ourselves in our own lives by presenting some techniques of good manager, like how one is able to motivate and hold a team together by introducing things like accountability and incentive. Some other examples from David Weliver’s list are things such as creating a personal mission statement to remind ourselves of what it is and why it is that we are even here in the first place. He says “Hint: If you can’t find a mission statement that fits your current career or life, maybe it is time for a change!”
“Use Lists Wisely”, is the three position in the list and I think one of the most useful tools that anyone could start incorporating in their lives. I was never busy enough or had the need to really use them when I was younger but now that I have taken on a bit more, there is no way I could function without list guiding my actions. I love the feeling of crossing off a completed task from the list and it really does help to keep oneself focused on the tasks at hand. David’s article does a great job of going into more depth on each of these topics and so much more, there will be links and citations at the end of this writeup for anyone looking for more information. Just one more from his list I think is worth mentioning is to do one task at a time, as challenging as it can become in a modern world if you are able to focus on one thing it will get finished so much faster than if you are trying to do three or four things at once. Basically, use your time wisely and be sure to reward yourself for a job well done. Life is not easy so remember not to beat yourself up over your failures, just learn from them and move on.
Another great article I found was “7 Benefits of the Accountability Strategy.” This is written by SJ Scott, and published on the developgoodhabits.com website which he also manages and keeps current and anyone that has ever tried to blog or make a website knows that keeping current and adding content on a regular basis takes a very disciplined type and SJ Scott is definitely that type and that is exactly who I want to get my advice from. The article breaks down some key benefits that come with accountability and it explains some of the components required if we want to be held accountable in our lives. “Remember, accountability requires two parts: internal control and external support.” (Scott, 2019)
External Support. How do we find external support you ask? The answer takes us to the key components that Scott writes about in his article which are what help us to become more accountable so we can start to reap the benefits of the accountability in our own lives. There are only two key components offered to help with the external support which ties in with internal control as well and the first thing we can do is get an accountability partner of course. “It may sound a bit obvious, but accountability works best when you have two people supporting each other. To some extent, you can get accountability via social media or making public statements. But it simply does not work as well as when you have a single dedicated person to help keep you on track.” (Scott, 2019)
So, we need to find someone willing to work with us and help us keep focus and stay on track. Great, but where do I look? The article does a great job giving us some ideas of where to start looking, it's just up to us to do the work now. It states:
You can find an accountability partner online or in person. Your search would be similar to the way you would look for a virtual or local community. Go to local meetups, join topic-related forums, talk to members of your online groups and reach out to friends who are interested in this type of partnership.
The second key component of accountability is working with a mentor. A mentor though similar to an accountability partner is not really the same thing. Yes, they both keep you focused and moving in the right direction, that is true. But in addition to that, a mentor is usually a bit wiser and more knowledgeable and can usually offer to you great insight into matters for which you may have even known nothing about but are now wondering how you ever survived without knowing that little tidbit of wisdom that only the experienced Jedi master could offer.
The developgoodhabits.com page has a great section on what a mentor is and how to find one so I will link to that as well in the page notes. Once we have established some external support and have begun working on our self-control and inner strength as well, we start to really understand what it takes to become successful
The most important thing I think anyone should take out of all this is that we cannot succeed alone, it is not possible. Success is a team sport and it's only once I realized that, that things really started to take shape. Just remember too that we are not alone in our fears or in our struggle. We are all in this struggle together just trying to find a way to do our best and provide for the ones we love. Once we realize we are all just humans and the human experience is best when experienced with others. That is what it is all about, finding others that can push you and help you become a bit more driven and focused. Someone that can hold you accountable for the things you’ve done and maybe not done, what is your excuse for not finishing that project? Why didn’t you read that chapter or do that morning Jog? We are always finding excuses to not do something but why not find the excuses to do them instead. That’s what I’m trying to give you here are just a few good excuses to succeed, because when we succeed, we realize we no longer need to make any excuses.