Get your motor runnin’, Day 12: Accountability and the motor


12 days into this c#@ksucker and I’m finding as many things derailed as on-track.

As always, there are multiple reasons behind the disconnect between intention and fruition. First, there is the reality that for whatever reason, most of us overestimate what we can get done in a day, and I’m no miraculous exception to that rule. Quite the contrary: I’ve been tracking my time religiously for over two years now, and while I have a very good idea of how long it takes to craft three versions of a bullet slide template for a PowerPoint presentation, and an extremely good idea of how long it takes to write a 1,000-word column for actors about how to practice sound business principles, try applying this data to configuring a reasonably productive day and my math goes to hell in a bullet-train-powered handbasket.

Second, while I have been very good about setting up accountability for some things, the daily guitar practice, doing my marketing tasks and even writing in this blog (hel-lo, salutes!), I’ve been less good about other stuff.

Exercise is problematic for me, for example, on days that I don’t stay at My Country House (a.k.a. The BF’s) because without my four-legged conscience, I’m just as apt to blow off the walk as do it.

I’ve been rolling around the idea of getting fit in my brain, realizing I have to connect it to something, trying to remember what on earth it was that got me to blow all that money on a personal trainer some 5-odd years ago, when I was (not coincidentally) in the best shape of my life. I vaguely remember the decision to commit being preceded by a kind of defeated disgust over my persistent weakness post-Crohn’s onset; the focal point of the disgust became my stick arms, which (again, not coincidentally) turned into mighty guns over the course of four months with Forrest Gump (my Southern-savant exercise bitchmaster).

Today, thankfully, there is no dreadful disease breathing down my neck. If I’m motivated by anything it’s a fear that the last two pairs of pants I have that fit won’t, and I can’t bear the idea of buying new ones. Good news, I suppose, given where I’ve been, and compelling in a small way, but not enough to self-motivate.

I won’t bore you with the grisly details of my myriad plans and the hacks I’ve been putting in place to make them realities. Not, anyway, until they’re proven, and thus useful to someone else.

For now, know that I’m building in check-ups, meet-ups, phone calls and deadlines like mad in an effort to deadline myself into getting these things done. I make everything from trips to Encino to impulse calls from the grocery store in service of this new goddess of accountability.

And you? Well, perhaps you are the decisive sort who can, once decided, just do. I get that; I’ve done that.

But when the goals are big and multiple, when the path not so clear, when time is of the essence? I say call in reinforcements: running date; writing group; playreading circle. Be shameless. Be humble and shameless.

Whatever it takes. This is a big year for all of us, and most of us need help somewhere. I’m sorting out where I need mine, and will be, I’m guessing, straight on through the end of 2009.

No shame in that. The only shame is in giving up when you haven’t yet called for help.

Who can you help? Who can help you?

When, finally, will you ask?


Image by joe m 500 via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. everything I’ve read lately about resolutions and changing habits suggest we can really only change one thing about ourselves *at a time*. basically, as I understand it, our brains have only so much willpower, and if you use it up on guitar and writing, the tank will be empty when trying to run. Check out zen habits, he writes alot about this.

  2. No harm in asking… except to your pride…. Pride is a worthless little bastard anyways… hurt him all you want! Just be dignified about it ;-)

  3. OMG – an audible “bwa-ha!” for “Southern-savant exercise bitch-master.” That is just priceless!

    Colleen, I agree with Brooklynchick on her one-thing-at-a-time comment. To commit to change everything is a set-up for failure. And look at you! You’re staying true to a number of these commitments really well. Asking for help and accountability is great … unless you’re asking to be accountable to too darn much.

    If it’s any consolation, please know that your ongoing commitment to your 21 day salute is inspiring me. You are helping more people than you know.

    Maybe after the 21st, you can focus on the exercise. Release … release … release…

  4. BrooklynChick – I know, I know; you’re totally right. Yet I perSIST in thinking I can somehow rise above the statistic. Thanks for the ZenHabits mention. I’ve been lax about linking in every post, but that’s there the 10-minutes/daily guitar thing came from, and I’m reading his book now. Leo’s a swell guy, and a great ad for his own methodology!

    JR – Okay! That does it! I’m marching right over to my pride and kicking it in the nuts. (Well, of COURSE pride is a man; everyone knows that!)

    Alexis – I’ve made you laugh; today’s work is done.

    Seriously, I know you’re right. I’ve already decided I’m’a start up the 10-minutes-exercise/daily thing in February. And I’d already planned on waiting until mid-year to get 100% back on SCD (the Crohn’s diet).

    I just always want to do more more MORE!

  5. Exercise is the demon I thought I tamed last year by capitulating to my people-pleasing tendencies by hiring a trainer and later paying for classes. It has fallen off the schedule since early December and I can’t seem to squeeze it back in. One more week of trying and I’m back to 2008 methods, even though it will slow down my financial goals.

    I feel like I have to, mostly because I think the lack of exercise is allowing another physical manifestation of the stress to take hold again: Migraines. And we just can’t have that.

    Who to ask on some of my others…. hmmm. Good question.

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