Are You the Person Holding Yourself Back? It’s Time to Hold Yourself to Account

I like to think I hold myself to account. That I’m a responsible person. That I do what I say I’m going to do.

And when it comes to my clients, delivering on promises to friends and family, I’m pretty damn reliable.

When it comes to my own desires, goals and ambitions, I’m terrible at being accountable to myself.

I am going to finish that book, this year….next year….no the year after.

I’m going to eat healthier.

I’m going to look after myself.

I have great intentions and well laid out plans with big actions broken down into smaller ‘achievable’ tasks, but when it comes to the crunch I’m full of excuses for why I didn’t deliver on them.

I was busy with work, my family, I don’t have enough time or money, what if I fail…I should be doing [insert any task that’s for someone other than me] instead.

It’s time to hold myself to account.

The Cambridge Dictionary says someone who is accountable is completely responsible for what they do and must be able to give a satisfactory reason for it.

So I’m failing on two fronts.

I’m not taking responsibility for myself, I’d prefer to shift the blame to everything and everyone else, and I don’t have a satisfactory reason for not delivering.

What exactly is stopping me from doing my personal tasks and sticking to them?

How can I make them an unbreakable and positive habit? I think the answer lies in deliberate practice.

I believe positive habits can only be formed if there is some form of positive reward and result. Positive results come from improved performance. And improved performance only comes from practice.

But not just any practice — deliberate practice.

I’m a complete novice when it comes the principle of deliberate practice, but I do know that it shouldn’t be confused with traditional practising methods.

I really like this article by James Clear: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice that outlines the difference between practising with purpose and consciousness, compared to mindless repetition.

He explains that deliberate practice is purposeful and systematic, and is conducted with the specific goal of improving performance.

“Deliberate practice always follows the same pattern: break the overall process down into parts, identify your weaknesses, test new strategies for each section, and then integrate your learning into the overall process.”

He says the greatest challenge is to maintain focus, because we can easily fall back into mindless repetition of tasks, and overlook small errors and daily opportunities for improvement.

Clear goes on to explain that one of the biggest differences between deliberate practice and simple repetition is feedback gained through measurement and coaching.

“The things we measure are the things we improve. This holds true for the number of pages we read, the number of pushups we do, the number of sales calls we make, and any other task that is important to us. It is only through measurement that we have any proof of whether we are getting better or worse.”

I want to improve. I want to be accountable to myself. Perhaps deliberate practice is the key.

‘Accountable’ is today’s word out of the jar. Read more about my Out of the Jar project here.  

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