Everywhere I go, I've noticed that elevators are almost empty and stairwells are filled with people tracking their daily steps with wearable fitness devices. I'm a Fitbit user and I'm happy to report that this accountability device has improved my health and my career more than I ever imagined.
I check my mileage, my stairs climbed and my calories burned a few times a day to ensure that I reach my self-established goals. Fitbit also sends me a progress report each week telling me about my best days and celebrates my milestones and accomplishments. In my ongoing effort to de-stress, live in the moment and integrate my life and my career in a healthy way, Fitbit has been a tremendous tool.
I'll admit -- I appreciate accountability. I like a plan, I'm a competitive person and I love to achieve. My Fitbit holds me accountable and gives me credit for achieving my objectives. It's like my own personal audience who applauds me for a job well done.
This got me thinking about how I could hold myself accountable in other ways that related to my career. How I could tap some human accountability masters to join me in my quest so we could inspire each other to achieve our personal goals? As an executive coach, I have always subscribed to the philosophy of building your Personal Board of Directors and I have added a new resource member to that team. Who is your Career-Fit Master?
Here are some ideas about how you can hold yourself more accountable in your professional life to advance and improve in your career. Think about what you would like to get credit for and rally your personal team or coach to help you make it happen.
In-Person Conversations -- With email, instant messaging and smart phones at our disposal, it's rare that colleagues who work in the same environment seek out an in-person conversation. Besides gaining additional steps or stairs towards your daily goal, a personal conversation shows that you care, illustrates your active listening skills and provides you with a mini break from an established routine so your brain stays fresh and productive.
Managing Up -- Your boss is really busy doing his/her work so it's imperative that you give him/her a regular accounting of what you have accomplished. Think of it as a progress report with a brief monthly email outlining what you have achieved and what's coming down the road. Don't wait for the annual performance review. Be communicative -- tell you boss what you are doing really well so they can recognize the great work you are doing now!
Celebrate the Wins -- On the agenda of every Executive Resource Team meeting at my workplace is an opportunity to report wins. This boosts morale and gives credit to individuals and teams who should be recognized. Take it a step farther and create a Wins Board - a public way to announce and celebrate accomplishments and people who deserve to be recognized. Create a culture you want to work in and extend a well-deserved compliment or notation on the Wins Board to show colleagues that you notice and you care. If you are the boss, this is especially important. Your colleagues want you to recognize their good work.
How Can I Be a Better Boss or Colleague? -- No matter where you reside on the company organizational chart, there is room for improvement. Hold yourself accountable and ask your boss and your colleagues - How can I improve? Listen graciously - show your appreciation for the feedback and carefully consider how and what you can implement to become better at what you do. The act of asking is an important step in gaining the trust and respect of colleagues.
How Can I Help You? -- In addition to asking for feedback, offer your help to others. Leaders become extraordinary by helping others succeed. Whether you are entry-level or a C-Suite executive, leadership behavior is part of your own career management. Be accountable and ask how you can be helpful. Asking How Can I Help You? is a wonderful way to pay-it-forward.
Pick a Stretch Goal -- My daily Fitbit distance goal is six miles. I plan to increase that number soon because I am now achieving that goal with ease and I enjoy a challenge - plus the activity is good for my health and my mental focus. Consider a stretch goal for your career. Do you have project envy for a colleague's work? Are you interested in a promotional opportunity or a career reinvention but don't know how to get started? Identify a stretch goal and then assemble the players who can assist you in making it happen. Successful people ask for help!
My Fitbit has taught me to flex new muscles both literally and figuratively. I have changed my daily routine by walking at daybreak every morning and I have a renewed appreciation for accountability in my life and career.
Much of life we have very little control over. I have embraced the power I have to look at my career and life through a different lens and focus on what I can do each day. I am engaging my accountability masters and coaches and setting new goals to keep my routine fresh and stimulating. When I need a boost of self-confidence and recognition, I look to my Fitbit achievements and my career wins. Celebrating the success of others brings me great joy and the positive energy is palpable.
Thank you, Fitbit for helping me understand the power of accountability and celebrating my wins!
Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book This Is Not the Career I Ordered and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is Director of Professional Enrichment at the Indiana University Alumni Association and contributes to AOL Jobs, CNN Money, London based - The Rouse and More Magazine. She is working on a TV series about career & life empowerment for women and hosts the podcast series Your Working Life. Follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.