By Terri Peck, Guest Blogger
What does accountability actually mean? By definition it is “The quality or state of being accountable; an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.”
When you work in a traditional office environment and have a “boss,” being accountable is really just a given. You know at some point you will be asked about or even rated on the completion of assigned tasks. Being “accountable” to someone is pretty easy in a traditional work setting. When many of us launch our own businesses and become our own bosses, it happens; that day when you realize “Hey, wait a minute! I can do what I want, when I want and no one is checking!” This may be true, but too much of a good thing is well, not so good! Each working scenario comes with its own set of challenges. I like to think of them as little mini mountains you need to scale in order to continue on a successful path. I’ve heard a lot of business and life coaches talk about being accountable to yourself. For me, I had to take this concept a few steps further. Here is what has helped me to be accountable.
First, I planted my mission statement and vision board right in plain view in my home office. For those of you who may work from the kitchen table or somewhere in your home that is not totally your space, that is ok! You can just bring these little visual gems with you to wherever you are working. And if it is the local coffee shop, take a picture of your mission statement and/or vision board with your cell phone. Make them your screen savers so when you are tempted to check social media or cruise around the internet, you are reminded of what you are accountable for that day; your own success! Don’t worry if you don’t have a vision board. However, they are awesome (How To Create An Empowering Vision Board) and something you should truly consider. If you don’t have a mission statement, that is something you need to change quickly (How To Write A Personal Mission Statement In 8 Steps). You can certainly come up with one on your own or work with a coach. Either way, a mission statement is important. Think of it as a beacon of light. Without it, you may not know where you are trying to get to!
Next, I enlisted the help of an accountability buddy. This has been by far, the best! It is a former colleague that I meet with periodically. We are both self-employed and come from the corporate world. So we have that common ground and we know each other’s work styles. When we meet weekly our agenda consists of catching up on the week prior both personally and professionally. We even send each other periodic text messages or emails to help each other stay on track. And we always end our meetings with a quick recap of what each other’s action items are for the coming week. It fosters accountability.
I love being self-employed; both the challenges and the triumphs. But just like most entrepreneurs, I don’t love every aspect of running my business. I got into this to pursue my passion of helping others pursue theirs. However, every successful business, whether it is a one man band or a team of a thousand, needs to track certain things to measure their success. That may mean spreadsheets and I don’t like spreadsheets. So, for a while, I kept items on my daily To Do list around spreadsheets that I needed to develop and maintain. Then it hit me…I need these, I am not good at them, but I still need them. When you work with a team of people you can say “help.” Well, you can do the same when you are self-employed! Some things just need to be outsourced and that is A-Ok! You can’t possibly do everything and my guess is, you don’t really want to.
In the end you are accountable to yourself. Don’t set your expectations too high – make achievable goals. Pat yourself on the back for every accomplishment no matter how small or big. Establish a realistic schedule – if you pack too much into it you may get stuck in the mud and not accomplish anything at all. Find your accountability buddy. And above all, make your success a priority.
Terri Peck is a virtual executive assistant for a leadership development and consulting firm. She and her husband recently launched an internet-based business, www.choosetoinfuse.com. Her professional experience includes meeting and event planning, sales administration, corporate training and human resources management. Terri also owned and operated a children's fitness center. Her true passion lies in assisting women re-enter the workforce after taking time off from raising their families; a challenge she faced after her two daughters, now 20 and 17, were in school full time. Terri has an accountability buddy and is one herself, providing emotional and motivational support! She is moving into becoming an accountability buddy for others outside of her local network. Contact Terri via email - firstname.lastname@example.org - for more information on how you can obtain your very own accountability buddy.