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How to Be Accountable

accountability mindset Jun 21, 2024

I had a conversation with a client who shared the number one reason behind her remarkable results.

Surprisingly, it wasn't about finding the perfect workout program, following a flawless nutrition plan, or discovering some game-changing supplement.

"It's accountability," she said.

You often hear the term "accountability" in the fitness industry, but what does it truly entail? Accountability means acknowledging that you don't have to go on this journey alone.

It means having someone by your side, whether it's a workout buddy, a significant other, or a coach, who keeps track of your progress. With their support, it becomes easier to bounce back when you veer off track.

Accountability means going beyond simply visiting the gym at your own convenience and doing random workouts. It means committing to scheduled workout sessions with someone you enjoy being around, whether it's a friend or a coach.

Even on days when you feel unmotivated, having a set appointment encourages you to show up, ensuring you don't disappoint your workout partner.

Accountability involves having someone who can celebrate your victories, not only when you overcome challenges but also when you successfully meet daily goals such as staying hydrated or reaching your protein intake.

How to Be Accountable

Remember what you said about getting fit?

It's important to do what you said you would do.

Accountability is your willingness to accept responsibility for your actions.

Accountability means you’re not on the journey alone.

They say accountability means doing what you said you would do, long after the feeling of excitement has gone away.

Well, sometimes the feeling of excitement leaves faster than a subway train during rush hour.

So what's the solution?

Ever notice how accountability seems to vanish when you're binge-watching your favorite TV show?

You tell yourself, "I'll just watch one more episode," and before you know it, you've finished the whole season.

As James Clear shares in his book Atomic Habits, laying out an "implementation intention" can help keep you accountable and more than double your normal success rate.

That’s an impressive statistic, but it begs the question: “What's an implementation intention?”

Luckily, it’s not some complicated process or protocol.

In fact, it’s quite simple. It’s a fill-in-the-blank sentence and here is the basic format:

I will (behavior) at (time) in (location).

That’s it. But don’t be deceived by its simplicity.

Defining when and where to execute a particular behavior drives compliance through the roof.

This modest sentence establishes a straightforward plan that removes ambiguity, and the clarity that arises makes people far more likely to follow through.

How much more likely?

Here are the facts. In a 2001 study concerning exercise frequency (1), individuals were put into one of three groups.

*The "A" group was asked merely to track their exercise frequency.

*The "B" group was given motivational information about the benefits of exercise.

*The "C" group was given the same motivational information as the second group and asked to complete the following implementation intention sentence:

During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 min of vigorous exercise on ______________(day) at ____________(time) in ___________(place).

And the results were:

*38% of the "A" group (asked just to track) exercised at least once per week.

*35% of the "B" group (who received the motivational information) trained at least once per week.

*91% of subjects in the "C" group (asked to complete the implementation intention) exercised at least once a week.

That’s impressive! 91% of the implementation intention group trained at least once a week as compared to the next closest group at 38%.

That’s more than double the success rate.

Strong work from the simple act of filling in the blanks.

As you revisit the basic framework of the Implementation Intention sentence:

I will (behavior) at (time) in (location).

You can begin to view it critically and see its power.

It embodies many of the facets of another successful framework many people are familiar with - S.M.A.R.T. goal setting.

When completed, the implementation intention is:

Specific - It clearly defines the particular targeted behavior.

Measurable - Did that behavior get executed or not?

Achievable - You select a behavior you can accomplish.

Relevant - The behavior is aligned with with your goals

Timely - Your deadline is realistic. When this fill-in-the-blank template is completed, a simplistic plan emerges, and clarity appears.

And with a plan in place, execution skyrockets.

This framework could be used for any number of healthy behaviors.

Here are a few examples following the basic Implementation Intention framework:

  • "I will (behavior) at (time) in (location)."
  • "I will journal for 5 minutes at 9:00 AM at my breakfast nook."
  • "I will drink 12 oz of water when I wake up at my nightstand."
  • "I will walk for 10 minutes when I get home from work around my neighborhood path."
  • "I will drink my collagen protein when I have my first cup of coffee at my kitchen counter."

The implementation intention produces a plan.

The plan dramatically increases compliance.

With such a simple strategy to double effectiveness, why don’t more people use it?

Maybe a better question is: Do they really want to?

This implementation intention is a bit of a two-way street.

It seems that your heart must be in it.

In a study from 2005, when people had no intention of pursuing a particular health goal, they were unlikely to form an implementation intention that adequately spelled out the when, where, and how the goal will be pursued, even when they were asked to do it. (2)

Also, I've noticed something interesting.

People are always looking for an accountability buddy to keep them on track.

But let me tell you, finding someone who's actually accountable themselves is like finding a unicorn or mermaid.

It's a rare sight.

That's why successful clients invest in accountability coaching.

So, if you are having trouble executing an implementation intention, it may be time to re-evaluate the goal and hire a professional coach.

Ask yourself: Do your intentions truly align with your values, resources, goals, and your season of life?

That’s worth examining.

One more thing worth sharing.

A while back I was asked how I'd "audit" someone's current training-and-nutrition plan.

Well, I'd make sure you are playing to your strengths, while also trying to simplify.

Here are the questions I'll ask you:

  • Do you feel like NONE of the things you're doing get true focus and your absolute best effort?
  • Over the past 6 months, what 3 things have resulted in the biggest improvements in getting closer to your Ideal Body (the leanest, strongest, happiest version of you)?
  • Are you spending at least 80% of your time dedicated to those things?
  • Do you feel like you're always busy but never getting the "important stuff" done?
  • Are you personally spending at least 80% of your time on the things that really drive you forward (leaner, stronger, happier, etc.)?

Then, there are other things that you can actually measure like:

  • Where you are spending your time?
  • Which daily habits yield the most results?

So between the somewhat subjective stuff and the objective things, you should be able to get a pretty good idea.

And finally, the last question that I often default to is super simple:

Is ________________ making you happy? ๐Ÿ‘ˆ

If the answer is "no" for any extended period of time, for me, it needs to change or go away.

Your Ideal Body is not a fantasy and it's actually probably closer than you think, but it won't happen by accident and these questions will help you start moving in that direction.


Simply completing the Implementation sentence appears to dramatically impact consistency of behavior. A simple framework for the implementation Intention is: "I will (behavior) at (time) in (location)." If you don't complete the implementation intention or aren't executing on it, it may be time to re-examine your goal. Bottom line: Pin down the when and the where of your desired behaviors and see consistency skyrocket.

To your success,

Coach Joe


1. Sarah Milne, Sheina Orbell, and Paschal Sheeran, “Combining Motivational and Volitional Interventions to Promote Exercise Participation: Protection Motivation Theory and Implementation Intentions,” British Journal of Health Psychology 7 (May 2002): 163–184.

2. Sheeran, Milne, Webb, & Gollwitzer, 2005. Sheeran, P., Milne, S. E., Webb, T. L., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2005). Implementation intentions. In M. Conner & P. Norman (Eds.), Predicting health behavior (2nd ed., pp. 276-323) Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.



Joseph Arangio helps 40+ men and women get leaner, stronger, and happier. He's delivered over 100,000 transformation programs to satisfied clients around the globe. If you want to lose weight from home, with the best online longevity personal trainer, or you want to visit the best age-management personal trainer in the Lehigh Valley, you can take a free 14-day trial.


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