Why personal accountability is the key to healthy living
There are various times in our lives when we’re more likely to address our current behaviours: a new year, a landmark birthday, or a significant life event to name a few. But as we all know, creating resolutions is far easier than sticking to them! So, rather than just setting goals and being disappointed if we don’t meet them, why not consider how we can show more accountability to help us get to where we want to be?
Are you contributing to the problem?
The first step in personal accountability is being honest about your current habits and behaviours. This can be difficult because we tend to downplay our bad habits or try to justify them in some sense. For example, you might be trying to eat healthier, but you could be using food as a coping mechanism if you have a bad day. You may be trying to drink less, but it’s easy to justify that nightly glass of wine as a reward for a long day. Is it a treat though, or are you using unhealthy choices as a distraction? Recognising and acknowledging the truth of your current situation is an important first step in taking accountability.
Set a healthy routine
A routine gives us purpose, structure and self-accountability and can help us achieve our goals. So many healthy routines have a positive knock-on effect, and taking care of our physical health can improve our mental health. For example, eating a balanced and healthy diet will result in more energy and less sluggishness. Consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function at its best. A healthy routine can also extend to a suitable sleep pattern, helping to make us more focused and less irritable the following day.
Look after your mental health
When we don’t prioritise our mental wellbeing it can lead to negative ripple effects in other areas of life. There are simple steps you can take to assume responsibility for your mental health. Mindfulness, meditation or journaling can help you stay grounded during stressful or challenging moments. When you feel stressed or anxious, what is it that makes you feel this way? Are you unhappy in a job or relationship? Are you taking on too much? Or conversely, are you under-stimulated and finding yourself bored or frustrated? Depending on your circumstances, cutting back on your hobbies, or finding some new ones, could be beneficial.
Be forgiving with yourself
Recognise that achieving your goals is a journey of ups and downs. It’s important to remember that change takes time and there will probably be bumps along the way. It can be frustrating when things don’t go as planned but it’s important not to give up; instead use these moments as opportunities for self-reflection and remind yourself why making these changes was important in the first place.
Seek accountability from others
Having others hold you accountable makes it easier to stick to a routine and get closer towards your goal. If you are training for a run, for example – find a jogging partner! It’s going to be easier to get yourself out the door if you know you have someone waiting for you. Plus, letting yourself down by skipping your workout might not leave you feeling guilty but letting someone else down probably will. If you are trying to reach a solo goal – that’s fine too, and you can still seek accountability in a different way. Can you share your plans with a colleague, to help keep you motivated? Or could you join an online forum or social media group for support?
Let go of things you can’t control
… and embrace ownership of the things you can! You can’t stop family conflict, for example, but you can change how you react to it. You can’t stop the situations where unhealthy foods seem unavoidable – like a birthday celebration – but you can choose to exercise moderation. This is not about depriving yourself of things but is, in fact, the opposite. Being mindful of the fact that you are in control can be incredibly freeing.
Taking personal accountability for our health can be challenging, but it’s essential if we want sustainable results in our lives. It starts with being honest about where we are now and then setting achievable goals that will move us closer towards our desired outcome. Change takes time so don’t get discouraged if things aren’t happening as quickly as expected; keep re-focusing on why these priorities were so important in the first place.