Does this sound familiar?
You set a goal, decide you’re going to adopt a healthy habit, say you’re finally going to do that thing you promised yourself you’d do for months.
You strap in.
You start off strong.
You’re feeling good.
You’re doing it!
Then something happens.
You get derailed, bored, go on vacation and can’t get back on that horse again.
It’s so frustrating!
You just wish you could say you’ll do something, then do it without constantly falling off the wagon at some point.
But no matter how hard you try, how many times you set a goal, how many ways you try to convince yourself that this is your moment, you just can’t seem to make it happen.
The truth is that sometimes it’s really not about having more willpower, being super motivated, loving yourself enough to do it, or anything like that.
Sometimes you just need some accountability to make sure you actually do what you want to do. (And the right kind of accountability – more on that in a sec.)
I can’t stress this enough – not reaching your goals doesn’t automatically mean you’re lazy or unmotivated.
Some of us are just wired in a way that makes it so that we thrive when someone or something else is watching to make sure we do what we say we’ll do.
We need that external pressure to help keep us on track.
This may feel icky for you at first.
You may wish that it wasn’t true and that you could just do the thing without needing someone to look over your shoulder.
But honestly I’m this way too (along with hundreds of thousands of other people). I thrive with some outer accountability and the more outer accountability I set up for myself, the better chance I have at reaching my goals and making healthy habits stick.
Yes. This means that it’s not always easy for me to eat the way I want to eat (choosing kale over fries more often than not) or get my workouts in (instead of making up an excuse about why today is just not the best day for me because, you know, my ankle kinda, sorta aches 😉 ) unless I set myself up with some external motivation.
Once I realized that this was true for me, I let go of the “I wish I could just be self-motivated” bit and set up systems and strategies that actually work for the way my brain is wired. And once I did that I started to see some big shifts in how successful I was at any goal I set.
It felt a lot easier to keep going and I wasn’t constantly stuck in that start a goal > hit a road bump > fall off the wagon > struggle to get back on cycle over and over again.
This can be you, too.
Once you embrace the fact that you’re wired this way, and start setting up some outer accountability, reaching your goals will feel a lot easier and more joy-filled.
There will be less frustration and stress over constantly feeling like you’re falling short. You’ll actually follow-through and be able to adopt all the healthy habits you’ve wanted to cement into your life for so long.
So dive in and try out some of the suggestions below to get more outer accountability in your life.
But remember, it’s not all cupcakes and butterflies from here on out. It does take some work and troubleshooting to figure out how best to make this work for you because the tricky thing is that what works for one person may not work for someone else.
For some, a simple email reminder gets us to act.
For others, there needs to be more skin in the game.
So play around with the ideas below until you find something that works for you.
And remember that you don’t need to do all of them. Pick one, start with that, then in a couple weeks decide if it’s working. If not, try something else. If it is, awesome, stick with it!
P.S. I have to give kudos to Gretchen Rubin and her community for the inspiration for some of these.
Make it a Group Effort
Sometimes you need a little help from your friends. Try one of these strategies if you love a good group mingle.
1. Create a Facebook Group
Add some friends or family who want to adopt some healthy habits and help keep each other accountable.
Then set a time to check-in with each other each week to make sure you’re doing what you said you’d do.
2. Baby Swap with Another Mom
Set a time (or times) to get together at someone’s house each week. She can watch your kiddo while you get an uninterrupted workout in and vice-versa.
If you can, just pick a day and time that works every week so that you don’t have to set it each and every week.
3. Get Your Co-Worker BFF In On It
Ask a co-worker to come check in with you after lunch to see if you got your lunch workout in.
Or get them to set up an automated email to ping into your inbox at 1pm to ask if you’ve been drinking enough water today – then make sure to not just ignore it, respond to let them know what’s up.
4. Sign Up Together
Want to try that mommy and me class?
Ask a friend (or 3) to sign up with you. Knowing that they’ll be there – asking where you are if you don’t show up – may be enough motivation to get your booty out the door.
Bonus: you can all go for lunch together afterwards!
5. Start a Lunchtime Workout Club
Send an email around the office asking who’s interested then make it happen.
Use the gym in your office building if you have one, go for a walk, bring in some equipment to leave in the storage area so that when lunchtime rolls around you can get a workout in.
If there are other moms in your office who are around your same fitness level it’d be a great opportunity to help support each other and swap problem solving strategies for dealing with toddler meltdowns in the middle of the cereal aisle.
Automate Your Life
One of the best ways to help ensure your goals happen is to automate as much as possible. This means that you don’t have to remember or rely on willpower. It just happens.
1. Get Pinged
Set up a reminder on your phone or create an automated email reminding you to do that thing.
This may not work if you have a tendency to just ignore those notifications – so try something else if that’s you.
2. Buy a Wearable
Some people swear by fitness wearables. They can remind you to move more, drink more water, sleep better…
The idea is that they remind you to keep you on track so you don’t have to think so much about it.
3. Hire a Personal Chef or Food Delivery Service
This may feel out of your budget or an extravagant purchase but there are often relatively inexpensive options in most cities.
Whether it’s a new chef starting up a business and offering great deals, or a healthy meal delivery service that ships nationwide and can offer it at a reasonable price, you may find something that fits your needs.
This is especially awesome if you want to eat healthy but hate cooking. You can just pop a container in the microwave or oven and eat.
4. Avoid the Embarrassment
Set up an embarrassing Facebook post to automatically go live every morning you want to workout this month (you can use a free service like Hootsuite).
If you don’t get up to turn it off it’ll be shared far and wide – so you might as well get up and get a workout in while you’re at it.
Just don’t cheat and turn it off the night before 😉
5. Hire a Trainer or Coach
The ol’ tried and true.
I know a lot of my clients (current and in the past) could have just hired me to create a program for them and then done it on their own but they knew they just wouldn’t get it done.
Knowing I’m going to show up at their house with weights in tow means that they don’t have to be self-motivated. It just happens.
Make Movement Non-Optional
1. Be the Instructor
Get certified as a group fitness instructor and start teaching classes at your local gym.
Teach two classes a week and you know you’re guaranteed at least two great workouts.
And you get paid to workout. Awesome.
Is there a local organization you could volunteer for once or twice a week for a couple hours that requires you to be active?
Remember, you don’t need to be at the gym to get a workout in.
3. Join In
Make a plan that whenever you go to the park with your kiddo you’re going to join them for X minutes instead of sitting on the sidelines. Tell them you’re going to play with them instead of just watching, “Mommy is going to play with you for 5 minutes okay?”
Monkey bars, ladders, running in the rocks, pushing them on the swing, this is all amazing full body exercise.
Start out small – say 5 minutes – then go for longer and longer as you feel stronger and stronger.
4. Sign Up For Something
It doesn’t have to be a marathon. Maybe it’s an obstacle course race you need to train for, or a soccer league, or Thursday night volleyball because you really miss playing it since having your kiddo.
Just commit to something, put it on your calendar and let everyone in your life know you’re going to be unavailable on _________ because you’ll be at the field hitting softballs.
Acts of Selflessness
A lot of times we have a hard time doing good things for ourselves and have an easier time doing something when others benefit (or get to avoid something bad).
While you absolutely deserve to feel good for yourself. Period. I do appreciate that sometimes bringing someone else into the picture can help keep you accountable.
1. Do It For Your Kiddo
Yes you deserve to feel good – not simply because you’ll be a better mom or a good role model.
But if you find it helps to think of how it will benefit your kids (or love mate), remind yourself why you’re doing this – to bring more joy into their lives – when you want to quit. Keep a note in your phone or piece of paper in your wallet with a sentence or two saying “I’m doing this so that __________________.”
When you want to bail, pull it out and remind yourself why this is important.
2. Make Others Pay the Price
Create a system where, when you don’t do the thing you said you’d do, someone else has to pay up.
Anytime you skip a workout (for no good reason – it’s okay to skip it if you have the flu!) your husband has to do 50 burpees or your best friend can’t watch her favourite show that night.
It sounds kinda evil but think about how well it’ll work because you’ll feel bad making someone have to do something or miss out on another thing!
3. Everyone Gets a Prize!
Get together with a friend and figure out some goals you each want to complete or make a list of healthy habits you want to adopt (exercise X days a week, drink X litres of water a day, eat X number of salads each week, etc.)
If you get to the end of the month and you’ve both successfully completed your goals or habits 99% of the time (life happens so there can be some wiggle room there) your friend gets a spa day (or something else you really want to do together) and same for you. If you skip out, she misses out and vice-versa.
Start small with 3 habits tops then grow from there.
And Also Do It For You
You deserve to feel amazing. And adopting healthy habits in a deliciously selfish way is an awesome idea.
1. Imagine Your Future Self
Would your future self be proud and happy of what you’re doing right now?
Sometimes all it takes is a moment of reflection on how amazing future you is going to feel after that workout, or how nice it’ll be to not have to feel guilty for the rest of the day for eating a donut for breakfast instead of something healthier.
This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect 100% of the time, just focus on how you want to feel and aim to do things that’ll make your future self feel that way.
2. Pay Yourself
Every time you workout or do whatever you say you want to do, transfer a certain amount of money ($10, $25, $50…) into a slush fund right after you do it.
Then buy whatever you want with it, or go on a trip, or do something fun.
3. Remember Your Why
Get super clear on why this is important to you (beyond just “I should” or “It’s healthy” or “I want to get in shape”).
Record a video of you talking honestly and openly about why this is important to you (remembering that no one will see it but you, so get super real).
Focus on how this will change your life – not everyone else’s. Because you matter.
Then watch it anytime you feel yourself slipping off the wagon so you can re-commit to your goals.
Make it Happen
Of course none of these will work if you don’t take them seriously.
It’s that whole schtick that your mom drilled into your noggin’ – it won’t work unless you do.
If you set up some group accountability but no one is actually checking in with anyone else, or you sign up for a soccer team but you never actually go, you’re only frustrating yourself even more.
So do yourself the favour and take this seriously. Make the initial time and energy effort to get yourself set up then enjoy the perks of your hard work for months (maybe even years) to come.
And remember that it always comes back to that one thing – if this is truly important to you, let’s make it happen.
No more empty promises to yourself.
Because you really do deserve this.
You deserve to feel amazing. You deserve to feel accomplished. You deserve to feel fulfilled.
P.S. Have a mom friend who could use some accountability in her life? Send this post her way! Thank you!