Episode #78 – Managing Your Goals with Accountability

Episode #78 – Managing Your Goals with Accountability

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When we’re in the grind with training, having an accountability system is a great way to stay focussed on what matters. This episode goes through 4 levels of accountability, and how each one can help.

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Welcome to the grind. The point in your training when no one’s looking, when you’re cold and tired, when you don’t look your best, in fact you probably look ugly as hell.

I bet you know two things about the grind. One – It’s hard, and two – the work done here is the difference. The difference between winning and losing, the difference between getting dropped on the final climb, the difference between punishing your mates, or getting punished.

Without out getting too deep into the Raphaesque marketing talk – we know the grind, but we also know we sometimes struggle to get out of bed – to hit the numbers, to do the work.

I talk a lot about motivation, mindset, and finding your why. And sorting this shit out goes along way in getting you out of bed in the morning. But sometimes it’s just easier to control your environment than trying to control yourself through will power or motivation. Or at least give you a nudge to remind you of your ‘why’ when you stray off course.

And that’s what we’re all about his week. Setting up an external accountability system, and using every available product or person to keep us in check. Because it’s not just limited to getting out of bed – once you’re up it’s a whole new battle.

Ok I’m starting to get a little carried away now. Let’s take a couple of steps back and first have a look at accountability. Accountability at its core is about staying focussed to meet our expectations. Think of it as goal management. It’s as simple as a reminder, or as complicated V02 Max testing.

Its tied pretty closely to what a good goal actually is, and if you don’t have a grasp on how to set a goal check out Episode #23.

In some way we are all accountable to someone or something when it comes to our cycling. This also means that different types of accountability exist and that we can readily harness and optimise this power through a relatively small number of choice relationships, and/or agreements.

And so I’ve listed 4 levels of accountability, and how you can use them to achieve your goals. I believe they all apply on some level. Maybe the weighting, and the how you are held accountable will be different, but they’re in there somewhere.

They go from order of importance and from daily to weekly, to every so often.

Level 1: YOU – Personal Accountability

On a personal level it’s much more about daily habits that will get you towards your goal. The way I think about it, is that a goal has to change something that you do on a daily basis in order to be effective. Otherwise it’s not tangible enough to be considered a goal because a goal has to have a corresponding change in what you do on a daily basis.

There are some great ways to keep you focussed on forming these habits. Such as http://habitforge.com/, http://askmeevery.com/, Lift, or http://thinklegend.com/commit/.

Level 2: MENTOR (Coach or Mastermind)


The closest person or group that is directly involved with the development of fitness and skills.


  • Develops or can see training programs.

  • Routinely providing constructive feedback.

Coaches have long been my preferred form of accountability. Something about outsourcing some responsibility to another single person that makes hitting training targets easier. If you’re self-coached or aren’t in contact with the person that writes your programs on the regular. Than a mastermind group is a great way to stay in check each week.

I’ve run an accountability mastermind group over the past year in one form or another. Also lately I’ve been thinking about how I can run it better. Here are the guidelines I try and stick to:

There are lots of rules. Here they are:

  1. 3-7 people into this mastermind.

  2. The mastermind will be begin on a revolving 6 week period. You must show up at least 5 times.

  3. The mastermind will be 1 hour weekly. 10-15 minutes will be the featured participant sharing a training problem. The rest of the call will be focused on smart people working through your problem, or trying to improve your current solution.

  4. You must be willing to share your training openly with other members of the mastermind group. An element of trust will be a big part of this. I’ll do my best to weed out sharks and bad people, but there is an element of risk here that you’ll need to take on.

  5. You must have a strong Skype connection.

  6. Blog posts or public mentions about other member’s training is prohibited, scout’s honor.

  7. You will not be allowed to record phone calls except when other people are reviewing your situation and you have received permission from everyone on the call.

  8. If you find the advice you receive from me helpful, you will shamelessly promote the Semi-Pro Cycling podcast.

In return, I will ensure:

  1. No two riders will be in direct competition with each other.

  2. Everyone gets structured, kick-ass advice, to the best of the other participant’s abilities.

I want to increase the accountability element to include an overarching goal that each member of the group is aware of. Like use a 6 week rotation to have performance goals broken down and mapped out to include six steps, one for each week, and each week is a check in.

Weekly call.

  1. Talk about wins first.

  2. Rotating hot seat

  3. What we want to accomplish by the next week

On top of that I’m battling to think of positive and negative ways to reinforce any lapses of focus. Maybe it’s not necessary for everyone, but there is something to be said about having something more than pride on the line. One idea I have is using a website called http://www.stickk.com/. Where you can create a commitment contract, and put something at stake. A dollar amount for example. it’s a little serious, if you have any ideas please let me know.

I highly recommend you consider one for the upcoming season. If you want some tips on two to run one, or your don’t have a local group you can jump in with – get in contact with me damian @ semiprocycling .com. And I’ll try and put some groups together.

Level 3: TEAM (Training partner or Group rides)

Team accountability involves transparency of actions and behaviors to other riders who share a common objective. It might be more important if teamwork is vital for success, but it still has merit even if it doesn’t. While there are training dangers associated with riding in groups, there are great accountability rewards.

As discussed before the right training partner at the right time is an invaluable resource, that can make your training time fly. Planning a tough workout that you can do with your training partner once or twice a week will make it easier to hit the numbers.

Whereas a group ride may be good for the odd hitout, or even endurance rides. It’s accountability is probably more about getting you out of bed early in the morning, or holding a certain pace over a long period of time.

Level 4: FANS (Partner, Family. Non-riding friends)

Fans are people who take an interest in your results, but who don’t actually ride. It might be easy to pull the wool over their eyes regarding training, but if you let them know what your season goals are, or what you hope to place in an upcoming race. Then it’s hard to weasel your way out of it.

Letting these people know of your plans is a great way to get support, although they may not understand. It’s always nice to let them know what’s happening in your life.

At this level you can ask people like your partner to help you complete certain tasks. Like I know when I get a bit mopey, my wife will give me a kick up the ass, and tell me to do a workout.

Takeaways: Quantifying our actions can help us identify our blind spots. I bet we truly believe we are more disciplined than we are. Only through accurate measurement can solo accountability survive. But there is more to it than that. Because accountability to oneself an diminish with time having all levels will help nudge you at different times.



Photo Credit: huggerindustries on Flickr


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Build fitness on a realistic schedule with this time-saving planner.

Get your free copy of The Weekly Workout Stack™

Build fitness on a realistic schedule with The Weekly Workout Stack™

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