Up until recently, things have been a bit slow. I haven’t made any blog posts nor worked as much as I hoped. To make things worse, I wasn’t very social and was riddled with anxiety and stress. For weeks and weeks I thought to myself things like, “you’re going through a slump, hopefully it will pass soon” or “man, i’m sad because I cant exercise or move with my broken foot” among many others. However, I have realized that these thoughts served to externalize accountability for the way I am feeling and behaving. In reality, there were things I could do to improve.
It all clicked while creating a training video titled “How to Make a Cross Platform Mobile App in 20 Hours”. I accepted a simple job from a client that I estimated could be completed in 20 hours. So, I decided to record myself building the app, and additionally, record my voice explaining everything as I went.
It hit me all at once: the ultimate tool for success is Accountability.
Because I was recording myself every step of the way, I invented an external source of accountability. However, this source wasn’t just a deadline making sure I do things on time or a schedule to keep me in rhythm. This source of accountability was watching my every move.
I no longer could take shortcuts while building the app. Everything I did, every piece of code I wrote, needed an explanation. As a result, I avoided explaining poorly thought out solutions and put in the effort to do everything correctly. This recording allowed me to maximize efficiency, do things properly, and get the project done on time. The power of accountability became clear.
Every situation we encounter, we are a part of. At a minimum, we are that which perceives the event. As a result, there is always something we can do to yield a better result; even if that thing is changing our perspective to begin with.
At the most basic level, in order to hold ourselves accountable to a problem we must be willing to communicate that problem to others involved. If we are not willing to communicate the problem, we shouldn’t have the problem to begin with (or rather, we should change our perspective on the issue). For example, if a friend of yours is doing things that really piss you off and you don’t communicate that they are bothering you (for fear of judgement,confrontation, etc) then you are making a mistake! Pleasing your friend and upholding a false image that everything is okay isn’t the best approach, unless you are genuinely willing to put up with the problem in order to please your friend, in which case, the problem vanishes as you are aligned. Otherwise, it is your responsibility to communicate your true thoughts and feelings about his/her actions. If we are willing to torture ourselves with problems within our own heads, at a minimum, we must take accountability and release the problems from our heads and into reality.
Because we are involved in every single problem we perceive, there is always something we can do to solve the problem. Although at times it may be extremely difficult to hold ourselves accountable because we are a very tiny part of the problem, ultimately holding ourselves accountable is the best move we can make to work toward future success.
For so long I had been running away from a system. I dropped out of school and started my own company to remove all systems and obligations that were “controlling” me. However, my avoidance of the system I disliked resulted in an avoidance of systems all together. This is where things got ugly.
Without any sort of system in place, I had zero sources of accountability. And to make things worse, the clients I was working with were extremely forgiving and laid back regarding time tables. To me it was simple: I want to succeed, so I will work everyday towards my goals, right?! I don’t need strict deadlines and systems. I can be flexible and free. However, this proved to be a horrid failure.
Why? I wasn’t holding myself accountable! Sure I had goals and motivations and projects to complete. But with my only source of accountability being “do it as fast as possible because you want to finish and succeed!” I quickly fell down a slippery slope. With such a loose system, failure was hard to identify, and left my mind plenty of room to make up issues such as “I am going through a slump”.
I have now clearly identified my goals, and additionally, created a system to serve as a source of accountability that will help me achieve these goals. It painted a clear path for what I need to do to succeed, hindering my ability to blame other things, people, or circumstances for my lack of success. If I don’t follow the system, I will fail. And if I follow the system and still fail, I can revamp the system or modify my goals.
Now, I know its not always black and white. Some problems seem completely out of our control. But remember: any problem we have is our own problem, so own it. If we are willing to agitate our own being enough to deem something as an issue, I hope we are willing to use that agitation to help us solve the problem. For some problems, it might be extremely hard to hold ourselves accountable (death of friends, state of the world, etc). Investigating solutions to these problems (whether its a change of perspective or a solution to the current one) may result in heavy introspection and deep deep fundamental thoughts about our own identity and existence. Let’s avoid those for now.
Often times, the number one way we trick ourselves into externalizing accountability is by falsely identifying our problems. I believe that any problem can be transformed into a goal. If your problem remains in a problem state, than it may seem that there is nothing you can do. For example, “My friend is so rude to all of his other friends” seems to not involve me at all. However, I can continue to ask myself “Why is this a problem to me?” until I end up at the the real problem, represented as a goal: “I want my friend to be more kind to his other friends.” If I don’t have this goal in mind, why would my friend being rude to others be a problem at all? Its only a problem if I want this behavior to change! When thought of as a goal, it helps keep myself in the equation, and reveals that this is my problem. I can then think of the best next steps to solve this problem, even if it means cutting ties with this rude friend.
Ultimately, holding ourselves accountable to our problems and keeping a forward thinking mindset will result in happiness and success. Always keeping in mind that we are in the equation of our own problems (even in the smallest degree) will create a sense of optimism and control, reducing the feelings of stress and hopelessness.