accountability Advice


Friday, January 01, 2016 Peter A. James

We've all said it. Or at least thought it. It's because we've all been on a job that we “needed” or could not leave for one reason or another. Some of you who are reading this are there right now and if you haven’t experienced it already, trust me - you will! Another way to describe this problem – having a job that is not your career or having a job that is just not your passion. For that matter, having a boss or a job that you just hate to go to every single day. Getting up in the morning is a chore, driving there is a chore, and of course, just being there is a chore.

But this article is not just about what you're experiencing or what you've been through – instead, it’s about taking control of your work life - taking charge of your career. You are at a crossroads and despite what you think, it is not smart just to quit that job and not have a plan B or C. That being stated, what do you do now and how do you do it? Below are five steps to begin the process of taking control of your career:
1. Decide your top 3 priorities in life. (I like to call these your three firsts.) 
Mine are faith, family, and business. Yours could be anything, but it is important to identify them early and reflect on them often. These priorities will be the backbone upon which your work-life balance and the beginnings of loving your job begin. Oh yeah, I highly recommend to write them down as most priorities and goals are not reality until they are put down on paper.

2. Identify your passions, interests and experiences. 
This will also be important to know where you are headed. This brainstorming activity usually cannot be achieved in one or two sittings. Therefore, give yourself time to reflect on what makes you happy. Write these down too.

3. Design a realistic plan and goals to get you from where you are to where you want to be. 
This plan could include going back to school, getting some certifications, learning some processes via the internet (, etc.), becoming a better speaker (i.e. Toastmasters) or joining a professional organization. This plan and goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, Time-bound). Get used to this acronym, it will be one that you will see again during this process.

4. No more planning, now doing. This is a crucial part of the process. A place where people often get stuck. As I just mentioned, this is a process that will not happen overnight. It could happen gradually over 6-months or 2-years. Starting and maintaining your focus, however, is the key to getting it done. Remember your goals.

5. Get an accountability partner to help with 1-4 above. 
Your best friends or family members are usually not good people for this (because they love you and think very highly of you). Identify someone who won’t mind disagreeing with you, who will challenge your thinking, or maybe notice something in you that you did not know existed. This could be a mentor, coach, professor, or someone you don’t quite know that well, but truly respect. This step is important because we all need someone to bounce ideas with and to celebrate success with.

These steps are just the start, however; because after reading them (and writing future goals down), you must execute and put them into action. This is where you step out of your comfort zone and focus on your goal - but it will only lead to success as you define it. As mentioned above, this is a common problem for many people and if it is for you, the accountability partner mentioned above will help tremendously. If you can’t find one, consider clicking on where you will be able to partner with one.

Peter A. James (pj) is a coach and accountability partner (AP) at - a website/blog which identifies accountability partners for professionals and executives in order to take their careers to the next level.   

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