We’d all like to live happy, healthy, stress-free lives. However, more often than not, something gets in the way of our plans. We start with the best intentions but struggle to find the time or lack the resources to succeed. 
But have you ever wondered how some people seem to control their health and wellbeing completely? Those people who power through a day's work with boundless amounts of energy. And still find time in the evenings for family and friends, hobbies and leisure pursuits.  The answer is they share a common approach to life with athletes, sportspeople and high-performing business leaders. 
The approach is called personal accountability, and anyone can master the principles. 
Accountability means taking personal responsibility for your situation, actions, and the change you’d like to achieve. It’s not a skill or an ability we inherit at birth. Instead, it’s a mindset change that views positive health and wellbeing as a challenge to overcome with goals.  Here are seven ways to help you master personal accountability: 
1. Set yourself up for success 
Success comes from a conscious commitment to make positive changes.  Change is challenging, but there’s no reason why you need to do it alone.  Nominating a family member or friend to be your accountability buddy is a great way to help your journey.  An accountability buddy is someone to support your plans, goals and aspirations.  Your buddy might be a family member or a friend to share your weekly progress with over a meetup, social message or video call.  Alternatively, your buddy might also be someone keen to improve their health and wellbeing. So you might work out together, engage in healthy activities, or share tips to help each other achieve goals.   
Another way to reinforce your commitment is to write an affirmation statement in a contract to sign with yourself. Or between you and your buddy.  Here’s an example you can adapt:    
My goal for losing x kg in weight over the next x months  I, [enter your name], agree to commit and take the following steps to hold myself accountable for reaching my health and wellbeing goal.  I will not let one minor slip-up affect my confidence. I will respect myself by refusing to engage in negative thoughts or self-doubt.  Specifically, I shall remember that this is a process, and obstacles are inevitable. But I aim to make a positive life change.  I will not sacrifice my needs to fit someone else’s idea of what is acceptable.   I choose to be in charge of my behaviour and make my own decisions.  I choose to make this change because I want to, not because someone else made me do it.    
Finally, I shall:  take personal responsibility for my actions and success turn mistakes into positive feedback  never give up on my goal    
Your signature:                                 
Accountability buddy signature:         
2. Create SMART goals   
Goals are the outcomes of actions we take to achieve things in life. They give us a specific target to aim for and a sense of direction.  We can set a goal to lower our cholesterol or blood pressure or reduce stress. Or improve our heart health, quit smoking and improve our fitness levels. We might set a goal to lose weight. Or another to run a marathon for charity. Whatever we’d like to improve about our health and wellbeing benefits from a goal. Setting goals makes us responsible for our aspirations and helps us stay accountable along the way. And the most effective way to set goals is to use the SMART technique.  
SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based. 
3. Remove blame  
We are all human, and you’ll inevitably encounter setbacks or slip-ups on the way to better health and wellbeing. However, blaming others or external factors for what happens turns challenges into permanent roadblocks that fill you with self-doubt. This can stop you from achieving your goals.  
For example, let's say you want to quit smoking and haven't had a cigarette for a week. Then, another car hits you from behind on the way to work. Unfortunately, you can't use the car until it's fixed. So you have to find another way to get to work. And you also have the school run to manage as well. You are bound to become stressed, leaving you with two choices: blame the incident or other driver for making you smoke again or use stress-busting techniques like deep breathing, meditation, yoga and exercise to calm your state of mind while you focus on managing the challenge Whichever choice you make, you own the responsibility for the outcome. 
4. Form healthy habits   
Making healthy choices isn't always easy. But healthy habits are a vital part of health and wellbeing transformation.  You’ll also find that healthy habits provide the options needed to manage setbacks or slip-ups without resorting to blame as an excuse.   
Here are a few examples of healthy habits:  
eating breakfast every day  
reducing your caffeine intake  
reducing your alcohol consumption  
keeping healthy snacks like almonds or fruit handy to ward off hunger pangs  
taking a brisk walk every evening  
making stretching part of your exercise routine  
drinking eight glasses of water per day  
practising meditation or deep breathing for relaxation  
getting the right amount of sleep  
not using your mobile phone or computer within an hour of going to bed   
And remember, small changes to your habits gather momentum over time to become the significant changes in your life. 
5. Develop a routine   
You’ll find it much easier to stay accountable if you develop a routine. Having a set schedule for meals, sleep, and physical activity makes managing healthy choices easier. So, create a daily or weekly routine that includes time for physical activity, healthy eating, and relaxation.   
For example, you might aim to:  
eat breakfast within an hour of waking up  
have a healthy snack mid-morning  
go for a 30-minute walk after dinner  
read from a book 
practise meditation or deep breathing for 20 minutes before bedtime  
If you find it challenging to stick to a routine, try setting reminders or alarms on your phone or computer.  You could also ask your accountability buddy to check in on your routine. 
6. Monitor your progress  
Another effective way to stay accountable for your health and wellbeing is to track your progress. This can help you see how far you've come and motivate you to keep going. There are several ways to monitor your progress, including: tracking your weight and measurements monitoring your resting heart rate recording your eating habits in a food journal keeping a daily diary of your physical activity tracking your sleep patterns recording your moods and feelings You can also track your progress using online apps and websites. Or share your progress with friends on social media platforms. This can be a great way to connect with other people who have similar goals. 
7. Reward yourself   
Remaining accountable for your health and wellbeing is an achievement. So don't be afraid to reward yourself, even if the reward is for progress made towards a goal.  You might treat yourself to a massage or other relaxation treatment. What about a new workout outfit or piece of home gym equipment?  You might head out to a restaurant with family or friends or treat yourself to a weekend break away.   
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