Wellness is a journey. It might be a new journey for you. As with any new trip, some planning is helpful to ensure you arrive at your destination successfully, and to have some fun along the way. Accountability is a sort of personal GPS to help you stay on track, moving consistently towards your new wellness goals.
First, what is the meaning of being accountable? Too often, we might hold a picture in our mind of a parent or boss, shaking a finger at us while they pass judgment on our performance. Accountability is more. The dictionary tells us:
Accountability- a noun
the quality or state of being accountable
especially: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account
for one’s actions
Accountability is such an important tool in improving wellness because we are responsible for our actions. Accountability insists that we explain what we have done. As we bring more wellness into our life, accountability isn’t about answering to any authority but ourselves (and perhaps a chosen group of understanding souls with similar goals.)
How can we better be responsible for making the wellness changes we visualize for ourselves? Here are some suggestions.
Writing things down is a wonderful way to begin being accountable. Random thoughts in a journal are nice. Lists of goals with additional plans to reach those goals are excellent. A big whiteboard in your office with scribbled ideas is fun. A rambling document on your computer might be how you plan and track your wellness progress.
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Not all of us are writers. Our goal here isn’t to produce a document to share. The goal is to make a record of where you started, what you’re dreaming of accomplishing and documenting your progress along the way. At the beginning of your wellness journey, you might be excited and optimistic. Later, after a particularly challenging day, rereading your own words written with such positive energy can recharge you more effectively than most anything else.
However, you approach this, make a record of your thoughts. Be specific, start with a lot of ideas then narrow the field to what you think will work best. Prioritize which options you think are the best ideas. Write out experiences that didn’t go as planned and how you might do better.
The all or nothing idea, “On January 1st, I will totally reinvent myself,” isn’t often effective but setting dates as milestones are important. Scheduling gives you a way to stay on track to see and celebrate your progress. Sometimes you need to just schedule taking action, “I’ll start my work towards regular exercise tomorrow by doing 10 squats when I get up.” You might also schedule your plan to wellness in phases: “This week, I’ll start parking at the back of the parking lot and walking into the office or the store. Next week, I’ll buy a good pair of walking shoes and explore 3 different walking trails nearby.”
Don’t be too generous in your schedule setting. “Ah, maybe next year” isn’t going to help you. But choosing to start new changes in your life at a particularly stressful time is tough too. Seek balance and choose to change in small increments. Make choices, set dates, write them down.
Sometimes our work towards wellness never gets started. This can feel very frustrating and is an easy time to be tough on yourself. However, not getting started is often about stumbling blocks. Maybe you’d like to start hiking but it’s been cold or wet. Perhaps your stumbling block is that you just need some better outdoor clothing? You want to go to the gym but just can’t make yourself do it? A common stumbling block is that you don’t know what to wear to the gym or you don’t have clothing that fits comfortably to move in. Stop by the gym, ask for a tour, see what people wear or ask someone for suggestions. Then go get what is needed and get started.
Stumbling blocks are outside of you, like a boulder in your path. Recognize them for what they are, then work on getting that blockage out of your way and watch what happens.
You are responsible. You have set your goals. You are the one who knows deeply what needs to change. You have thoughtfully reviewed what your stumbling blocks might be. So, how to keep this info readily accessible?
As with any new skill, we must review and re-learn new ideas. The goals you have written or your journal full of plans needs to stay in plain sight. Take some time every day to read through the game plan. Old habits are ingrained deeply and need daily, hourly or minute-ly (sometimes) effort to change. Take time every day to review your new game plan and evaluate progress. You will not be perfect every day. Reaching your new wellness goals is easier when you stay on top of what’s working and what needs to change. If you need some more ideas in this regard, check out the article on Motivating yourself.
Get a Buddy
The buddy system doesn’t work for everyone, but you might be one of those people that truly want to work with a team. Let’s talk about teamwork.
Enlisting a partner in your wellness plan can be a great help. Just remember that you must be willing to help your partner as much as they help you. First, check in with yourself to determine if you need a partner. Think about what areas of this wellness plan might go better if you weren’t working solo. Do you need encouragement, someone to compare notes with or are you looking for a long-distance running partner? Often you might need different buddies to fill all these roles.
Before getting a buddy, do your homework. Remember that ultimately, you are accountable to you. No one else is going to drag you to wellness. Figure out what’s important to you and understand your stumbling blocks. Set some goals for yourself. Once you’ve got a plan, then sit and chat with your buddy. Perhaps sharing these articles with your co-wellness adventurer/buddy is a good idea.
Discuss what role your buddy or your team, if you’ve got more friends on the same path, will play for one another. If you plan to work out together, decide for yourself that you will go ahead with your exercise plan even if your buddy bails. Maybe you will walk together at lunchtime three times a week but once a month gets together to review how each of you is progressing towards goals. Perhaps you will work towards some wellness adventure- like a run, a trek or a plan to climb a mountain.
For you folks who work better in teams, go for it. But first, get this homework done and know your stumbling blocks and your motivations. Signing on with a buddy to avoid donuts only to find out your buddy isn’t dedicated can find the two of you discussing your new partnership over coffee and donuts. Choose carefully and communicate.
If you don’t have a buddy or a team that you think will help you, consider a wellness coach. Most coaches have packages for 1- 6 months that can help you get started on the right foot. Costs vary widely, so check in with several resources to find the right fit for you.
Honesty is key in working towards a well-er life. Honesty with yourself is most important. Being honest with yourself isn’t brutal, it’s loving. Learn to really look at your past challenges and evaluate what you learned. Consider how you can help yourself more. Talk to yourself in the same way you’d encourage a good friend. No one knows your strengths and weaknesses as you do. Use knowledge of yourself as the powerful tool it is. We’re all different. We’re all imperfect. Get honest about who you are and what works for you, then you may find your wellness goals clearly in reach.
When you choose an accountability partner, be honest with them. We all have our yin and yang, our dark and our light. Share your truth gently and lightly. Hope they do too. Ask questions of each other in compassionate ways. Asking questions might be a kinder way of challenging someone else’s BS. Visualizing the best for you, your buddy and your wellness goals include being honest about what might trip you up.
Through this series of articles, the goal has been to help you get a grip on wellness – what it is, what aspects might be most important to you, how to get started and how to succeed in your plan to improve your wellness. Wellness is so much more than a buzzword. Wellness can be key to a longer and happier life for you, your friends and loved ones. Each of us struggles when trying to change but knowledge is power when it comes to achieving more wellness in life. We hope our work here has helped you on the road to wellness. Have fun!
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