My long held desire for complete freedom has served me well. I’ll be the first person to admit that taking the less chosen road almost every single time, left me with some, um… bad habits. I’m the kind of girl who does what she wants, when she wants. I’m willing to have less to feel more. Along the way I’ve set a precedent that can sometimes make it harder for me to follow my dreams. I actually DO get in my own way.
You see, while dreaming and scheming my way up my version of a career ladder, those bad habits I formed in my younger years have come back to haunt me from time to time. Being my own boss only adds fuel to my bad habit fire and it’s hard to change.
I had to let go of connotations I held onto with the word, accountability. I associated it with disappointing my parents when I was young and them urging me “to take responsibility and be accountable for my actions and decisions.” I’ve had to re-frame how I think of this word and its meaning. So far in 2014, I’m seeing results.
What did I do to turn it all around you ask? Well, I went out and found myself an Accountability Partner (AP). That’s right ladies and gents, I found someone to hold me accountable to all of my hopes and dreams.
My AP and I share weekly lists with one another that outline what we’d like to accomplish in the week ahead. Our system has us sending these lists to one another on Sunday afternoons and doing a weekly check in on Fridays.
Each week, we include Reflections – our notes to ourselves about what’s working and what isn’t. Almost straight away I noticed that I wasn’t leaving enough time in week to allow for pop up projects or ideas. Therefore, those good things were either passing me by or I neglected something else in favor of following my desire for freedom, which caused me to fall behind. Seeing this pattern laid out in these weekly emails really opened my eyes and now I budget the time to just let myself be in my business.
My AP and I also shared our bad habits with one another and gave each other permission to check in regarding these stumbling blocks. If I’m avoiding something that absolutely has to get done, you can for sure find me snuggled up on my couch reading a book or crocheting something. Why just last week I made four cowls whilst avoiding work that I wasn’t looking forward to.
Viewing my own to-do list through someone else’s eyes has been a very valuable tool. I have organized my list by project and it looks a bit like this:
Here I list things like my social media goals, emails, correspondence (I send two thank you notes a week), phone calls… things like that.
This is anything related to one of my books. There are always things to be done – promotion, chats with publishers and publicists, interviews and emails to answer from readers.
Kari’s Creative Community
This is mostly about what I want to accomplish that week with members of my community.
These are special one-off projects I’m working on, like product development or professional development, working on talks I’m booked to give or teaching gigs I’m working on.
Usually each section has between 5 to 10 things on it. That’s a lot of tasks to get done in what I hope will be a five day work-week.
Being accountable to someone else has really helped me see where I’m putting to much pressure on myself and has shown me ways I can improve how I manage both my time and my business. Also, it’s been very helpful to see what keeps appearing on my list. If I am avoiding the same task week after week, well, that’s something to think about, wouldn’t you agree? I’ve actually been able to give myself permission to let go of things I thought I wanted or needed to do, because truthfully, they weren’t what’s best for me or my business.
The point of having an AP is not to get feedback on your business or yourself, but rather to share your load with someone who can check up on you or help to get you back on track. It’s best to look for an AP that you can trust, who you’re not in competition with and who knows you well, but isn’t your BFF. You want this person to have the guts to call you out if you’re slacking off or but also be a sort of neutral presence. You pretty much want a witness to what you’re putting out into the world, and not everyone you know is a good fit for this kind of relationship.
I chose someone whose work I admire and who knows my community overall, but is in a different line of work than me. She’s perfect.
Could you use more accountability? If so, consider something like this for your business. With that being said, there is no right or wrong way to have a relationship with an AP. You both need to agree on what would serve you best and be willing to stick to guidelines that you develop together.
If you decide to try it, let me know. It’s already changed the way I do things, and well, in my case, that’s a good thing.
Till next time!