I’m sure I’m not the only one who can recall times when my “will power” failed me.  There are some moments when I am sure that I can conquer all with will power alone.  Just one cookie.  Turn the T.V. off at 9:30.  Don’t procrastinate.  Hold my tongue.  I admit, some of these examples are benign, in some ways.  Staying up too late watching Celebrity Apprentice (reality television is one of my guilty pleasures) is admittedly a poor use of my time and certainly will carry a consequence the next day.  Lack of sleep and inconsistent sleep schedules work against the quest for balanced living, though sometimes losing sleep is unavoidable.  Yet that’s not the worst vice I could have.  When I say that these examples are benign, I mean to show I am aware that others do struggle with bigger issues and probably tell themselves they can win their battles with will power.  Perhaps they want to quit smoking, maybe drink less alcohol or exit a toxic relationship.  There are huge implications with keeping some of these behaviors, and employing will power alone to kick these habits simply is not enough.  Making it all worse, is that when our will power fails us, we can really do some damage to our self esteem.  

As I was perusing my Facebook newsfeed recently (another guilty pleasure) I happened upon a post from a Health Coach I admire.  I’ve always had the sense that she is the sort of person who takes responsibility for her actions and shows her true self to others.  Her post, as she put it, was surprising to see on a Health Coach’s site, because it was an admission to missing three consecutive days of exercise! I adore her for sharing this with her clients.  She went on to say that she broke out of her slump (and felt completely energized after) because she is part of a group of people who keep each other accountable.

Wednesday is currently the day for new posts to my blog.  As that deadline rapidly approached this week, I continued to rack my brain for what I’d write about.  I have several partial posts in a notebook I keep and many more ideas jotted down.  Yet, none of them seemed to be moving in the direction of a complete piece for Wednesday.  I have developed a strong belief in abundance, which is actually one of the topics I hope to tackle soon.  My belief in abundance reassures me that I will never run out of ideas or inspiration.  When I suffer from the proverbial writer’s block, I clear my mind and quiet my thoughts, and confidently tell myself that the ideas will come, that the Universe holds abundance and this will work out.

Seriously, there’s no THC in my Hemp milk, the disclaimer on the box says so.  This is a method that works for me not only with writing, but in considering things that may be of concern in my life, or in handling fears or dilemmas.  It’s my tool for the, “what to do?” moments.  This week, however, when it came to blog ideas, my synapses were not firing.  Having committed myself to a few things this week, I had been intent on drafting a piece by Sunday.  Yet at 10:55 on Monday night, I still had no draft, though a good deal of research for yet another idea.  What was my hold up? I knew that Tuesday morning, after having worked four night shifts in a row, it would not be an ideal time for brainstorming.  Heck, it’d be a bad time for my brain, period.  Yet, I held fast to my notion of abundance and that if I allowed it, the idea would come to me.

Tuesday came and sure enough, rather than write I chose to take advantage of my baby’s nap time for a nap of my own.  I felt this pressure to come up with something, to do something, to take action on my blogging goal, but I knew my mind needed a rest.  Later in the day I began to prepare dinner.  I bent over and wiped some spills off of the kitchen floor, thinking about my writer’s block and that I’d really love to go to bed ASAP that evening (and that my floor desperately needs to be vacuumed).  Forget the blog, who reads it anyway?

Well, you do.  And I made a promise to myself, and a very public promise to you.  It’s clearly stated in my “rules” section: I will post once each week.

I set some goals with this blog.  I aim to practice writing, because when someone asks me what I do, I want to reply, “I’m a writer.”  I hope to share some ideas that help others.  I will show commitment and consistent effort toward my goals.  There have been so many times that I’ve promised myself that I would meet a goal through the use of will power alone.  That, as I’m sure I needn’t tell you, rarely seems to pan out.  So there, still kneeling on the floor wiping up a spill, I had a realization about why I would not just go to bed early and why I would complete my rough draft that night.  What would see me through? The same thing that kept my beautiful Health Coach friend on track with her goals: being held accountable.  Sure, if someone struggles to keep her own goals, she might look at others who are successful and chock it up to their superior “will power.”  I’m here to assure you that it’s not just about will power.  Accountability is so necessary, and though it’s only one piece of the puzzle in anything we strive for, it’s the realistic solution for staying on track.

I have heard that as humans we tend to take the path of least resistance.  If we’ve sworn ourselves off dessert, but happen down the cookie aisle on an empty stomach while grocery shopping, steering clear of the Double Stuff’s might be about as realistic as me moving to Mars.  In some situations, will power might get us through for the short-term, but eventually we need someone to answer to.  We need a friend, loved one, mentor or group of peers expecting to hear how well we’ve avoided the cookie aisle!

As my own will power waned and I thought about letting the blog go until I found more energy, I had asked myself, who cares if I post on Wednesdays or not? Yet in the end, I was compelled to take action by my public statement and by the knowledge that people had actually read it!  Finally, at what seemed to be the last minute, an idea broke through like the sun from behind the clouds.  I knew both what to write about and why I would write it! Accountability, not will power, is the real driving force that helps us reach our goals, big or small.  Thank you for keeping me accountable.

Do you agree? Who keeps you accountable? What other factors help us reach our goals? As always, feel free to comment.  See you next Wednesday!

05/29/2013 5:30pm

i have to tell you my best motivation is honesty with myself. Accountability to others is only topical, it tends not to last for me...


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    Jennifer Loebel