The Art of Accountability
In recent years some of us may, at times, scratch our heads and wonder what happened to accountability. Why is it so difficult an attribute for people to maintain? We have seen this decline in the media, in changing standards for food labeling and it’s certainly no secret that corporate America has suffered in this area. On a more personal level, we’ve all had to commit to something in our lives. Hopefully, we have weathered some challenges along the way but kept our sense of accountability in tact. I realize it is easier said than done. For instance, in the midst of January – a month with a trail of broken New Year’s resolutions, it’s a good time to take a closer look at this subject. If it weren’t for the newly launched gym-pact.com, who knows where my exercise endeavors would be. It is absolutely possible to learn to become more accountable and, particularly, when it comes to a job search, the benefits of accountability are well worth the efforts so let’s explore.
For starters, what goes wrong when people set out to be accountable to themselves or to others? It starts with a strong foundation of realistic goal setting. This is one of the biggest traps that people fall in to. If they begin with a lofty unattainable idea of what they can realistically do, this leads to feeling personally defeated instead of motivated. If you’re a job changer, you should spend some time in the research phase of your goal planning. It would be great to know how many hours (either before work or after work) you can actually devote to a search without being overly exhausted.
Another challenge associated with accountability is the distraction of life. It’s so full of surprises and demands on our time. Sometimes, however, while we’re busy pouring water over life’s fires, we don’t know that some of those fires are not our responsibility. Maybe some of them truly can wait or they just need lids to keep them at bay for a while. We are so accessible to colleagues, family members and social media notifications that there is less space in our brains as a result. Being accountable means creating the space in our life to do so.
Here’s an exercise that might be helpful. Think of accountability as an art. What do you need to create art? You need time, a medium of choice, a process, possible adjustments along the way, and time to reflect on the outcome.
Genuinely allow time to “un-plug” and reflect on what you want to be accountable for. Assess how much of your time is spent reacting vs. cultivating. Take into account a thorough list of existing responsibilities and set a target amount of daily time to commit, even if it’s 20 minutes. In the world of job search, perhaps this means an easily reached goal such as growing an online network by 1 person a day. Okay, lets say 5. You want to get a move on here. Challenge yourself, but be realistic at the same time.
2. Measure progress in realistic “bite-sized” pieces
Identify markers of progress or continued commitments. Maybe this means the satisfaction of crossing off items on your checklist or taking the time to feel good that you’re still on the path of accountability. Identify strategies that are helpful along the way.
3. Seek Help
One of the best ways to remain accountable is to make it a team effort. By adding social elements, it’s more enjoyable and it’s harder to disappoint a group of faces that are rooting for us – as opposed to going it alone.
If you are looking for a job, changing careers or even looking for ways to advance on your existing path, think about ways in which you can be accountable throughout the process. Consider join our Job Search Accountability Group where you will have the benefit of a coach, networking with other members, and tangible exercises to help keep you accountable to your goals.
Thank you Tava Auslan, Careerfolk Career Coach for her insightful article.