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Accountability (August and Beyond)

Amy Accountability | Creative Journey | Featured | Goals | Philosophical Threads | Productivity , , , ,

Accountability Systems

Tomorrow is the first of August, and as the month has approached, I’ve been mentally sifting through some of the “other” things I’ve been wanting to do, projects I want to work on or reconnect with, things I could finish if I spent a bit of time each day, skills I want to build, and so on. When I stick to just one thing, everything feels mindful and calm. But there are a lot of other things I “also” wish I could do or fit in. I try and keep that floodgate closed so that I don’t feel overwhelmed, but always with a new month, I think should I try and “also” do this or that?

And I think about accountability.

Accountability Systems and Partners

I have talked often about accountability on the podcast many times. Accountability systems are incredibly important, but what works for each person can vary greatly, and what works for you (or what you think might work for you) can vary over time. You may even find that you cycle in and out of what you want, what you need, how you think it might and could work.

You may find that you need external accountability in the form of a construct – like a challenge, class, or workshop – that sets up a system where you have deadlines to meet, tasks to complete, or the subtle impetus to “do” whatever it is every day. Having the construct may be enough.

But you probably pair that with something. Maybe you keep a paper tracker in your bullet journal or sketchbook. Or maybe you use Notion (like I do) or a similar online system where you somehow “check off” that you did x, y, or z each day (the goal not necessarily being that you check it “each” day). Maybe you do both.

Maybe your system involves posting to Instagram or in a Facebook group every day or uploading to an app like Museum by Sktchy. That kind of public sharing can be very effective for helping give you a set “to do.”

Maybe you have a friend or buddy or a not-friend contact who helps with accountability.

It may be that you have very high self-accountability, that you are very self-disciplined and keep up with whatever it is you decide to do without a lot of external influence.

I probably fall into that space, but I also set up constructs that help reinforce my sense of routine.

If there are too many x, y, and z items though, too many things I am trying to do each day, I know some will fall away. This sometimes is a self-selecting process, a winnowing and a sifting that I am okay with. It’s sort of like when a plate breaks…. It isn’t necessarily bad because the cabinet is overcrowded. Sometimes, when a creative project falls away (or something I’m trying to work on daily), I know that it’s just a matter of natural selection. I needed or was invested in other projects more, and I can’t really “fit” everything.

Sometimes I don’t want projects to fall away though. It may be that I need to realign my time or how much time I am spending on other things. Or maybe I need a better system to encourage and support accountability. It might be that the habit you want to build isn’t a specific project, but a specific pattern. Committing to journal every morning (or work in a sketchbook with your coffee before work or at lunch) might be a habit related to how you are fitting in and positioning your creative work. Trying to cement that “time slot” might be something you work on, and having some form of accountability can help. (This is one I think I really need to practice.)

I was thinking about accountability partners last week and wishing I had one. Sort of.

Accountability Partners Can Be Wonderful

I’ve had one before (several times before), and I know it can be both rewarding and tricky in its own way. My experience with having one was good – and it was a really meaningful process for me.

For it to work, it has to be easy though. Don’t let the system itself take so much time or mental energy that it becomes too weighty of a task.

I initially thought I might put out a call and see who might need an accountability partner. I think I could match people in my little CMP group up, for example. I think I could pinpoint who might be a good fit for one another. But then I realized that I wasn’t sure there was a fit for me.

It takes something special to make it work.

Maybe.

It can definitely work if you don’t know the person at all or it’s transactional (as in you are paying someone to be that person for you). That approach might sound more impersonal, but it can work, similar to the way a fitness trainer might help keep you on track. It all depends on how you define the relationship and the process. Do you want to just be nurtured and gently pulled along? Or do you know you might need some tough love here and there? Maybe you engage a creative coach to simply cheer you on, someone you know will give you a thumbs up and will also send a “where are you” message if you don’t metaphorically show up. There can and should be a gentle and nurturing way to provide creative coaching and accountability. There are certainly many ways to do it, and what you want and need and your own personality will have a lot to do with what system and what kind of coach or accountability partner you need.

It can work with a friend, but I think that might also be difficult at times. It depends on how comfortable you are with that person, how well they know you, and how clearly you are both able to establish what you need from the system and how it will go. Again, the daily check-in should be easy, not require a lot, and not feel like a burden.

Maybe you just need a friend, someone you can text once a day and say, “Hey, I sat down, opened my journal, and drew this. It felt good.” Maybe you send a photo showing what you did. Maybe it’s just the text. Maybe it’s just a checkmark.

Maybe your accountability is good, but you really just wish there was someone to help make you feel seen in your creative life.

It’s a lonely world out there.

I think a lot of us could use a friend.

No matter where you fall on the friend spectrum, thinking about a system of accountability and what that looks like for you can be really important in helping you grow, maintain, and be fulfilled by your creative routines and habits. The start of a month is a good time to try a system out. But, really, you can start any day. Pick one or more ways you want to stay accountable, reach out to someone (friend, relative, creative coach) if you need to, and move forward.

You might surprise yourself with how a bit of accountability can give your creative life a boost!

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