I entered Sydney lockdown 2.0 feeling excited. While I completely acknowledge that for many, lockdown 1.0 was far from ideal, for me, it was a really positive experience. I went on long coastal walks every day. I spent a lot of time reading. And I reconnected with a bunch of friends all over the world that I hadn’t talked to in years. It was a grand ol’ time for me — and I was giddy at the thought of getting to experience it again.
But, as you’d know if you are living through it yourself or have spoken to or read about others experiencing it, for most people, lockdown 2.0 has been different. And, to be completely vulnerable here, at the start, I really struggled with it. I was emotional. I was lazy. And I was anxious. (God, I feel sorry for my housemate!).
But then finally, the other week, I realised what I needed to do in lockdown to get me through — and it’s made all the difference.
It all started with a step challenge organised by my work. We were to do 8500 steps a day from Monday to Thursday, and send screenshots of our daily step count to the organiser. While I used to love good walks (see above lockdown 1.0 experience), I hadn’t been able to summon the energy for them since restrictions had started.
But on the first day of the challenge, when work clock-off time came around, I bundled myself up and got to walking. Though it was freezing outside, I didn’t want to not do my steps and then have to admit that to my colleagues. So, I paced back and forth on Bondi’s promenade until I hit the goal. And I did the same thing the next day — and then the next and the next. And I felt so much better for it.
I was being held accountable. And that, I realised — accountability, that is — is what I needed more of.
While, of course, you can hold yourself personally accountable for things, and, if you do end up following through with them, that can work wonders on your self-esteem, that clearly hadn’t been working for me.
I’d promised myself I’d do Pilates five days a week… and I hadn’t. I’d promised myself I’d take a short course during lockdown… and I hadn’t. What finally changed for me was when I involved another party.
“When expecting evaluation from an audience, people will think more carefully about their decisions than they normally would,” reads this article on accountability. “They will consider the outcomes of their judgements and process the relevant information more deliberately.”
A 2010 study in the US conducted by the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) found that you have a 65% chance of completing a goal if you have an accountability partner. And, if you have a specific accountability appointment with a person, you’ll increase your chance of success by up to 95%.
I began to find other ways I could be held accountable. I scheduled in a weekly morning walk with my neighbour. I planned virtual catch-ups with my friends. And now I’m very much considering booking in exercise sessions with a PT.
Though it was such a small tweak in the way I approached my lockdown life, realising that accountability from others was what motivates me has made all the difference.
So, if you too are in lockdown and feeling completely unmotivated, or even if you’re living without restrictions and still feeling that way, it’s worth considering taking a page out of my book and trying to up the accountability in your life, too. It just might be the key to snapping out your lockdown funk.