The HWW Accountability Framework
Making lifestyle changes -- to heal from a chronic illness or to inoculate yourself against the threat of one -- can be really challenging. Inertia, the power of ingrained habits, lack of discipline -- these can all be barriers to change, and they're deal-breakers for a lot of people who don't believe change is possible. That's why you need to build a system to hold you accountable to yourself. In the Health Warrior Way this system is called the Accountability Framework.
The HWW Accountability Framework is a crucial link in the bridge from HWW Phase 1: Assessment and Vision to HWW Phase 3: Commit and Execute. During HWW Phase 2: Building the Bridge, we craft the behavioral changes that will take you from your current baseline to your vision for optimal health and well-being.
Building the Bridge includes setting goals (intentions and targets), documenting strategies and tactics for achieving those goals, and recruiting mentors, helpers and allies (your accountability network) that you can lean on to keep you on track.
Commit to SMART Goals
In Building the Bridge we develop SMART goals to help us change habits and create new behaviors in order to realize our health and wellness vision. Borrowed from the business world, SMART goals are a great way to align vision, action and outcomes.
SMART goals are:
Specific: what you're trying to do
Measurable: the success metric
Achievable: the goal shouldn't be easy but it should be realistic
Relevant: the tangible impact or benefit; is it worth the time/effort?
Time-bound: how long the behavior will last; or, when you commit to accomplishing your goal
You can turn your very fuzzy health and wellness goals into SMART goals without too much effort:
Eat healthier becomes Eliminate dairy for 3 months or Stop drinking soda
Exercise more becomes Do 100 push-ups a day for 30 days or Walk to work 3 days/week
Be more mindful becomes Meditate for 10 minutes every morning or Practice gratitude every evening before bed
Spend more time in nature becomes Take a 30 minute walk outside 3 times per week or Plan x nature immersion excursions this year
You can develop SMART goals for each of the 8 HWW Life Practices, or you can focus your efforts on manifesting change in those areas that would drive the greatest benefit or impact on your health and well-being.
Develop Strategies and Tactics to Meet Your Goals
Once you've documented your SMART goals you'll develop the strategies and tactics that will help you, over time, hack your behaviors and habits to attain your goals.
There's no magic here. Most hacks are common sense: taking the stairs instead of the elevator; not keeping unhealthy food in the house; getting up 20 minutes early to meditate and/or journal; blocking out space in your calendar to exercise; stand, don't sit. Simple, but not easy.
The hacks serve multiple purposes.
They're a constant reminder of your aspirational self, the healthier and more present self that you're building. So sprinkle liberally to improve visibility. Make appointments with your aspirational self in your calendar. Cheer your aspirational self on by leaving reminders on your desk in your car or taped to your bathroom window.
They're practical reminders of your goals and, by extension, your vision. Even experienced chefs refer back to their favorite cookbooks to prepare recipes they might have cooked dozens of times before. Your documented hacks are your cookbook for a better, healthier life; refer back to them often until your new lifestyle becomes second nature (PS, be patient; this could take a while).
They're proof that you're showing up to do the work: even if you don't start seeing results right away (and you might not) you can take solace in the knowledge that you're putting in the work until the results start to show.
But what if you're not. Showing up to do the work, that is.
Recruit mentors, helpers and other allies
There's no reason to walk this path alone. Chances are, if you're ready to make a commitment to your health there will be countless people who will be only to happy to help you.
These may be relatives or friends that care about you and who are invested in your health, or it could be a boss or employer who understands that healthy employees are happier, more productive and cost less than unhealthy employees. Or it could be a coach or teacher that has "been there" and who can lead the way.
It's your responsibility to build this network to hold you accountable to the commitments you've made to your health and wellness goals. In a perfect world, you'll be a featured player in someone else's accountability network, helping them become their best selves, thereby creating a virtuous, giving circle of loving support.
And when the stakes are really high and loving support isn't sufficient you will pay a professional to help with the really hard stuff, the changes you've repeatedly failed to sustain (and have maybe come to believe are impossible) but which are also too important to give up on.
You might have a formal arrangement with some members of your accountability network ("Call me at 8pm every Monday night to check in on progress") while with others it's less formal. Generally speaking, the higher the stakes and/or the bigger the impact, the more formal the accountability agreement should be.
But just remember: you're ultimately accountable for your own commitments. Don't ask someone to help hold you accountable unless you're ready to put in the work. Don't impose on anyone else's time, their most precious resource, until you're willing to be a Serious Adult who displays Courage and Discipline in the Face of Great Difficulties.
This is the HWW Accountability Framework. Your system for transforming your health and your life. Make it work for yourself, or ask me to help you make it work. Either way, get started, soon.
Though you may not realize it you are each part of the Accountability Network I built to help hold me accountable for the Health Warrior Way Blog. I knew I wanted to make sure I showed up every week to write about the health and well-being topics I'm passionate about so I recruited an audience to be responsible to.
Thank you for your interest and your curiosity. I hope I'm holding up my end of the bargain.