The power of accountability

And how it can help you fight depression

So now that you have read “How to raise your mood when you are feeling low” you know exactly what you need to do to feel better. So why are you not doing it already?

Don’t worry you are not the only one in this case. It is human nature. What you need to get yourself in gear is to be held accountable by someone else. Because we really do not like being that person who say they are going to do things and do not do it. And that is human nature too.

How accountability has worked for me

My Danish GP

I first encountered accountability without realising it was accountability. In “How to fight depression” and “Why you should record your progress in a diary” I talk about how a GP gave me some very basic assignments (eat 3 times a day, sleep, get up at a normal time, go to work and exercise) and asked me to come and see her once a week to review how I was doing.

Knowing that I was going to see her and that I would have to report on whether I had been able to achieve the assigned tasks somehow motivated me to push myself a little. I felt like I had to try. For some strange reason I felt like I would disappoint her if I hadn’t been able to complete the tasks.

And so I did push myself and slowly but surely I achieved a little bit more every day. And as Keith Cunningham said: “Ordinary things done consistently produce extraordinary results”.

This, right there, is the power of accountability. If it worked for me when I was at my lowest ever, why would it not work for you?

The Shifters

In November 2017 I attended the Master Leadership Program run by Ed JC Smith in Bali.

The very first day the course started Ed randomly organised us in groups. And that’s how a very strong love story started. During the 10 days that the course lasted we shared with each other our dreams and our fears, our joys and our hurts, our strengths and the areas we wanted to work on. I feel that I got extremely lucky with the Shifters. Our group is a bunch of amazing, caring and driven people.

And in the same way as we supported each other through the whole time we were there, we are still supporting each other since we got back. We have set up a WhatsApp group where we share our success and our setbacks. It is a safe place to ask questions and the support is always there. I feel extremely close to these guys and I am so grateful I have met them.

And this is very motivating. Knowing that these guys are rooting for me makes me want to succeed even more. Shifters, thank you.

Healthy Sexy and Lean 2018

Another one I have Ed JC Smith to thank for. Ed had the awesome idea to start a new program this year called “Healthy Sexy and Lean 2018”. As I am sure you would have got from the title this is a fitness program.

How does it work?

We exercise for one hour every day for 12 weeks.

How does Ed keep us accountable?

–       Ed email us every day with the tasks for the day

–       We tweet Ed when we are done

–       We have a private area online where we can access videos – one per day – with the instructions and we comment each day after we have done the exercise. We also share our progresses there – measurements, how we feel etc.

–       There is the best possible reward: the person who gets the best results gets to go to the Master Leadership Program 2018 all expenses paid!!!

I can tell you that that is motivating me! I already had set myself the goal that by November 2018 (i.e. the Master Leadership Program 2018) I would look amazing, but now I am even more motivated!  And suddenly get up at 5:45am to go for an hour run in the cold is no longer an issue.

 

Are you starting to understand what accountability is all about and how it can help you achieve anything? So now that you get the gist here are a few tips on accountability.

Tell people (so that they hold you accountable)

If you did the exercise recommended in “How to raise your mood when you are feeling low”  then you must now have a plan on how to tackle your depression.

The next stage is to tell people about that plan. You are more likely to achieve it if you tell others that if you keep it to yourself. Also if you tell others they will ask you for updates. And you don’t want to have to say that you didn’t do it so that should motivate you.

And you might inspire your friends to do something about their depression too 😉

Get a friend on board (and keep each other accountable)

Exercise together

Some of the stuff on your plans are most likely things that you can do with someone else. A typical example is going to the gym or more generally exercise. You are more likely to exercise if you have agreed to do it with someone because you do not want to let them down.

Back in September I wanted to help a friend to get back into the habit of exercising regularly. That was what she wanted to do but lacked the motivation. Luckily we live just a few minutes’ walk from each other so we agree to meet at her place every morning at 6am to exercise together. This was brilliant to motivate us both. When the alarm went off I felt that I was not allowed to snooze because I had to get ready straight away to be at hers on time. This did work for us quite well for a while.

Without being as extreme as us (I appreciate that exercising at 6am isn’t for everyone – although in my humble opinion it is the best way to start the day) could you rope in a friend to go for a walk with you 3 times a week? Or sign up to a class once a week?

Or not

Maybe exercising is not for you at all. No worries. How about meeting up on a regular basis with a friend to practice your favourite hobby together?

Many years ago when I was studying to become a UK Solicitor during the credit crunch (great timing I know…) I felt that I need something special for my CV to differentiate myself from the crowd. Now I think about it I was already a French qualified lawyer so that should have done the trick but hey, these were tough times.

My favourite hobby at the time was painting and we were starting to run out of wall space in our house to put them up. Talking about this to one of my friends one day in the pub she mentioned that she loved painting too. One thing led to another and a few beers later we had vowed to do an exhibition together. And so we did. We met up every Sunday for weeks until we had enough paintings for a joint exhibition. We then found a venue and it actually happened.

I would never have pulled this off without the support of my friend. And neither would she. Our Sunday meetings became sacred. Nothing would stand in the way. And we reached our goal.

Join an accountability group

Surround yourself with the right people

Going back to my paragraph above about The Shifters, there is one very important universal law that you should always bear in mind and that will help you fight depression: you are the people you hang out with.

Take a look at your friends. Are they generally positive people who always try to lift you up and make you discover new things? Are they negative people who bring you down and criticise everything that you do, rejecting any new idea that you might bring in the group? When you want to try something new and you ask around who is up for it, who answer the call?

Spend a little time becoming more aware of this and you will start noticing patterns. It is always the same people who organise things, always the same people who want to do the same thing over and over again, always the same people who suggest new things, always the same people who give others the benefit of the doubt or try to see things from their points of view, always the same people who are quick to judge and blame others and so on.

Once you have identified the positive people around you make an effort to spend just a little more time with them and observe if this makes any difference to your mood to start with. But also are you feeling more motivated to do things?

Then taking it up a notch how about agreeing your 2018 goals and holding each other accountable by having regular catch-up?

Hire a coach (to hold you accountable)

In the same way that you would hire a personal trainer if you wanted someone to help you getting fit, you could hire a coach to help you fight depression. The two of you would agree a plan and you would have regular sessions with your coach to check on progress and tweak the plan where necessary.

In exactly the same way as a personal trainer, your mental fitness gets stronger as you go along and therefore the plan needs to evolve to ensure that you push yourself enough to progress further but not so much as to overwhelm you.

 

Let me know in the comments below if you have had any experience of accountability and how it has work for you. Looking forward to hearing from you!

 

 

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