One of the functions of coaching is to have someone hold us accountable. Committing to certain actions or behaviours and then reporting progress at the next session can help us stay on track. If we only have to answer to ourselves, it’s too easy to let things slide—but often just the thought of having to admit to someone else that we haven’t done something is motivation enough for us to knuckle down.
Often, but not always.
Recently several of my clients have not been completing their actions because they say they haven’t got time. They have lots of very sensible-sounding reasons:
- The kids are in the middle of exams
- This project is taking longer than anticipated
- My client is being demanding right now
- The commute is taking it out of me
These seem like genuine reasons, right? And my clients assure me they’re all short-term, so things will naturally get back on track once they’re resolved…
Hmmm. Here’s where I adopt my deeply unimpressed face.
Doubtless these things are all true, but my belief is that they’ll always be true. Once my clients are through these short-term challenges, something else will come up. There’ll be another reason they don’t have time.
This is true for all of us. Life can be challenging in all sorts of different ways at very often spectacularly inconvenient times. My assertion is that if we assume we’re not going to have time, that the circumstances won’t be great and that we’ll be challenged regularly, success lies in our ability to act in spite of these factors.
- Get clear on how much time each of your actions will take to complete.
- Schedule in time to complete these.
- Test for a week and notice your outcomes.
If it’s working, great. If it’s not, ask yourself: what stopped me? Did you forget? In which case, can you attach your action / new behaviour to something that already exists in your daily life (e.g. cleaning teeth, washing hair, going to the gym, walking the dog…). Did you not have enough time? In which case be realistic—did you under-estimate the time it would take, or is there something else going on (see myriad other blogs!)? Do you need to consciously choose to drop a commitment, so that this can be a priority? Or, is it actually something that doesn’t take much time, e.g. connecting to your future self, which can be done in 10 seconds (e.g. during a bathroom break)?
- What do you notice?