One of the things I have learned in my life was that once I commit myself to do something, I really do it, no matter what. Well, although there is true to that statement, it turned out that I don’t always do what I need to do.
If I have an appointment, being with a health care professional, contractor, or anything that requires me to be present and on time, I am there.
If I enroll in a course, being in a classroom environment or on-line, I do all the assignments on time and work on them without hesitation allocating time for any activities required to complete the course.
However, I don’t always do the things I really want to do or think I was committed to. I have an intellectual curiosity that is very diverse and sometimes it seems to be working against me, making me want to do or learn a bunch of different things.
I buy books and start reading them or put them in the pile of next books to read…
I choose on-line video courses I want to take and, either start them (and don't finish) or put them on the list for watching later…
I have ideas and start planning the things I want to do about them and begin collecting information…
What the things related to my curiosity and desire to learn have in common is that I ended up never pursuing them, or I start them but I never go far enough to a point of obtaining some results or getting some benefits from them.
While I am good at getting some things done, I am not at others. I came to the conclusion that the reason for that is accountability or the lack of it.
I realized that, as long as I am held accountable for something, I do it. When there is no accountability, I let things fall through the cracks and forget about them. It’s not that I lose interest in them, I just don’t pursue them because there are so many other things I am interested in that I don’t know which one to choose from.
The lack of accountability has made me spent time and resources starting things that I never pursuing them. What I discovered is that, the lack of a concrete action plan with a specific goal along with lack of accountability, make me drop things off along the way.
To overcome this lack of action I started working in two fronts; one is using a framework that involves three steps, and another is finding someone who can be my accountability partner.
The model I found that works for me is that I need to have these three principles in the things I do:
- Meaning and sense of purpose
- Helping people
The first principle is connected to my logical mindset. Without structure, either I feel lost or my mind loses interest as I don’t know where I am going to. If I don’t see the steps I need to take to reach the desired outcome, I rarely stay on track or continue doing it.
The second one has to do with the “why” question, if I don’t know why I am doing something, I can’t continue doing it. If there is no reason or clear understanding of why I need to do something, I simply don’t do it or have a hard time doing it. It’s easy to engage in an activity and continue doing it when it has meaning and sense of purpose, especially if it is aligned with your values and beliefs.
The last principle for me is the most important one and is related to the outcome of what I need to do. If the activity I need to do is not going to help someone or myself somehow, I will struggle with it and don’t get as motivated as I should if I see how it would help.
Finally, getting an accountability partner, someone I need to report my actions to by a specific time frame, has completed the puzzle. The accountability fuels the action that will make me accomplish the things I need to. It flips the switch that makes me get back on track when my mind tries to find something else to do.
Now, it’s just a matter of planning the things I need to do and selecting the next action steps that will get me closer to the final outcome. The same way that keeping track of what you have done fuels motivation, the accountability fuels my desire to taking action and stay on track and on time.