When embarking on a change (like a journey), whether in our personal lives or at work there are a couple of things that will help with the success. For today’s argument, let’s assume that the motivation, the desire and the purpose are all very clear; the two things that can help are support and accountability.

Change is one of those tricky things that we have to do on our own, but we want support. Support comes in many forms and can be as simple as showing interest or it can be as much as having someone commit to the change alongside you. I have found that embarking on something like a diet or a new exercise program requires someone willing to go through the journey with you. For example, I have started trying to run. I have never been much of a runner, so it is slow going for me, but I love getting out there and pushing myself toward achieving something I have always wanted to do. Ray goes with me. He walks when I walk and he encourages me consistently. He is a great runner and one of those people who won’t run for months and can go out to the track and run five miles. Yet, he goes out there with me, several times a week and runs at my speed. The support for my change is motivating for me and makes me want to continue, even on days when I don’t feel like it.

Something like a new career or a spiritual journey is more of an individual experience. I have been working to create a writing practice. While this is an individual endeavor, I meet a friend each week for a couple of hours and we just share the space and write. We offer one another insight and encouragement and most importantly, accountability. We do not have to share what we have written but more often than not we do. I know that she is counting on me for some inspiration and this helps me uphold the commitment to myself as well. The accountability is so important in the success of this change because, left to my own devices, there is always something more important than sitting down and writing (because sometimes it is difficult).

Determining whether you need support or accountability for making the shift can be a challenge as well. Depending on how deeply the change needs to happen can sometimes be a factor. It is like trying on clothes at the mall, sometimes I take someone with me because I just want some support, someone to tell me I look great in that hot pink rain coat. Other times, if there is more of an emotional commitment to what I am doing I need the encouragement but I also need someone to be honest with me and say, “You did do what you said you would do…” This honesty can be tough to hear, but so necessary if we are serious.

I used to tell everyone around me when I set a goal for myself because I thought if enough people knew, someone would support me and someone else would hold me accountable. I call this, “throwing the goal at the wall and seeing what sticks”. This can sometimes be an effective method, however, in the long run; the shift or reaching that goal may not happen because there is no focus behind it. Now, after a little reflection, I tell key people in my life who can clearly give me what I need to reach my destination.

What changes do you want to make and who will you tell to get the support and accountability that you need?