Cheerleaders in Leather Jackets
I had an old boyfriend who was very bright and creative.. the mind of an entrepreneur. He was a thinker. And an avid reader. This gave him lots of ideas of projects he wanted to start, books he wanted to write and businesses he wanted to create. But this didn’t always happen. Despite his truly beautiful mind, something was missing between goal setting and goal actualization. His father used to say to him (which is kinda mean I realize), High potential, low actualization. Perhaps we bonded in part on this quality. We were both dreamers who had big ideas about how we were going to change the world – the business world for him and heal the health, hearts and minds of my community for me. We both struggled in some way with closing the gap between an idea and the end goal.
In Ayurveda terms, I can now clearly see that this was due in part to our shared vata nature which gave us creativity, enthusiasm, and short bursts of energy that allowed us to quickly learn new ideas but also changeability, mobility and tendency to jump from one thought/idea/place to the next. Our individual natures were exacerbated by living in a culture that prioritizes multi-tasking and quick response time to work obligations, emails, calls, and social media 24/7 – a culture-wide vata imbalance, so to speak. So we also drank the collective vata-imbalanced organic, sugar-free and non-GMO koolaid, which added more vata to an already overflowing pot. That ain’t good.
When in balance, vatas are joyful, enthusiastic and full of ideas. When they find a good system for work habits, they can be great creative directors, entrepreneurs, leaders and whatever they damn well want to be. But out of balance, vatas tend towards racing thoughts, overwhelm and then exhaustion. High potentiality, low actualization.
I started studying habit change and Ayurveda a few years shy of my 40th birthday. I must have sensed that this would help me ward off the midlife crisis that is so common among people my age group. Here we are, toiling away at our careers, building up our families and relationships and “keeping up with the Joneses” and suddenly we are mid-age and don't know where the time went. Monumental birthdays like 40 (or 50, 60 and on up), it’s common to look at how the younger version of ourselves envisioned where we would be at our current age. How did the 20 year old me envision the 40 year old me would be living?
Not entirely like I was living. I had lots of things I wanted to study and programs I wanted to create. People I wanted to impact. But I hadn’t learned good productivity and work flow systems. And some of my health habits like staying up too late and living completely arythmically (VERY common for vata people) had a huge effect on moving from potentiality to actualization. I felt like I was living out of integrity with my potential or dharma for many years. That felt shitty -- like accumulated ama (undigested crap) in my mental and emotional bodies. So I started studying habits, how they are formed and how to change them. There is some pretty cool and cutting edge behavioral science out there. (James Clear, BJ Fogg, Charles Duhigg, Gretchen Rubin, and Tim Ferris – I am looking at you). But one of the key things that helped me to move from potential to making shit happen is partnering with other people on a growth path.
When I started looking honestly at where I was in my health and work habits, and where I wanted to go, I decided it was far too hard to go it alone. I had tried that for decades and it hadn’t worked so well, so why not try something else? Maybe partnering with someone else who has big dreams, drive and a good sense of where they want to go would be a good idea? Soooo... I found myself an accountability partner. Two in fact. One of my accountability partners is a fellow health coach, so she has the same training as me, and similar-enough goals that we talk the same language. She lives in the US, so our talks are less frequent and usually consist of weekly What’s App voice messages where we review the last week and get honest about whether we did what we said we were going to do and breaking down our most important things (MITs in workflow system speak) for the upcoming week. We chat on the phone monthly. My other accountability partner is my guru sak shat, my teacher/friend who is nearby – literally in Munich in this case. She is a fellow well-read, business and productivity-minded yoga teacher and coach who has lots of goals she wants to make happen too. We talk nearly daily, either on the phone or SMS about similar things but she gets the situation I am actually living and working in, plus being in the same time zone and city makes our check-ins very easy.
Skeptical of this idea and whether it will work for you? I admit, when I first heard of the idea, I thought, Hmm.. someone else “keeping tabs” on me, won’t this bring out my inner rebel --she's pretty strong..? Then I thought about what the term really meant. Accountability:
Accountability is not consequences, but ownership. The very nature of accountability rests in the understanding that each and every one of us has freedom of choice. It is this freedom of choice that is the foundation of accountability. The only things you can control are your thinking and your actions but those are enough if you are willing to own them. -- Brian Moran
And the partner bit? A partner is,
a: one associated with another especially in an action
b: either of two persons who dance together ;)
c: one of two or more persons who play together in a game against an opposing side
d: a person with whom one shares an intimate relationship: one member of a couple
So an accountability partner is someone we work togetherwith, dance with if you will, over owning and taking responsibility for what we do. Simply put, they hold us to our shit, and we hold them to their shit, in a way that helps us to dance through life together. (I just made up that definition on the fly, so it’s not official or anything.) My accountability partners help me be in integrity with myself. If I tell them that I would like to do x, y and z by next week when we talk, I feel more responsible to make those things happen.
Many people use accountability partnerships without necessarily subscribing to the term.. you may have a gym or yoga buddy who you meet every week and your reliance on them and them on you encourages you both to keep healthy, calm and easeful. You and your best friend may have somewhat regular rap sessions about what opportunities and obstacles are in your professional paths and you give one another that loving push when you see one another holding back from the awesomeness that is their dharma. I encourage students in my Align to Thrive course to partner up to keep each other in check on their mind/body/spirit goals.. Actually making it formal will make it happen when you want it to happen, and take it out of the realm of whim or chance. You have got things you want to make happen, right?
A little more interested? Alright, next think about who would make a good accountability partner. First check in with what you want out of the exchange. Is it purely professional? Are you looking for someone you can also talk about personal stuff with? How often do you want to check in with the person and using what medium? Does this potential person have the same enthusiasm level as you or are you going to be carrying too much or too little of the weight of the partnership? Your accountability partner should see, and hold you to, the standards, of your highest self/potential/dharma. That means he/she is super supportive, but will also call you out on your shit when you aren’t doing what you say you are going to do. Like a cheerleader wearing a tough motorcycle jacket. You get the idea.
Let's do this friends. Let's get at least a little bit out of our own way and pair off. Don't worry, if the arrangement doesn't work, you aren't married to them for life. You can do a test run and can always switch if you aren't meeting each other the way you want.
Interested in being part of a dynamic group? I am teaching my next Align to Thrive 10 week Ayurveda and Habit Change course FULLY ONLINE starting July 2nd.This will set you on a path for having great body habits (body, mind and spirit) that totally aid you in fulfilling your dharma.