Why We Prioritize Our Job Over Our Goals

Why do we work so hard to hit deadlines at work and perform our best but when it comes to our own goals and dreams, it's easy to procrastinate or approach it halfheartedly? What can we do about this? How can we put our goals and dreams at the forefront of our lives and be all in?

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Hi everyone,

Today I am going to talk about ACCOUNTABILITY.

But before I dive in…

I want to say, it is good to be back and I couldn’t have been here without the support of my web developer, David. If you want him to build you a website, ping me and I will connect you! Also the support of my interns. They keep the passion and creativity alive and my intern, Marian, has been instrumental to getting me back on the Loving Leanne website.

I have been exploring other social media channels such as Instagram (@loving_leanne), LinkedIn, Facebook and Youtube. I noticed that which each medium and platform, you do really get a different feel and voice. It’s been such a joy to be able to experiment and connect with different people in different ways. Collaborating with others via Facebook Live and YouTube and hearing inspiring stories has been one of my favourite mediums. You can check out more here onΒ YouTubeΒ and here onΒ LinkedIn.


Why do we put our jobs before our own goals and dreams?

Well the answer is quite simple:

1. Other people (our boss, colleagues) are holding us accountable and depend on us and we don’t want to let others down. If you are a people pleaser aka obliger, this hits even harder for you and you will work even harder at your job.

2. Our paychecks and egos are on the line. Perform well, get a bonus or promotion which means more cash and a fancier job title! Perform poorly and you might get fired.

3. A team of people are working towards the same goal at work and when it comes to our individual goals, we often go at it alone. The more people working towards the same goal, the more momentum and motivation you build around it.

But who is holding you Accountable to YOUR GOALS & DREAMS?

If you are not making much progress on your goals or dreams or don’t even know what they are, truth be told, you probably don’t have real humans holding you accountable.

Does this mean the people in your life don’t love you?

Absolutely not!

They are just not aware of the role and importance of being a support or accountability system for you or you have not requested it.

A very few percentage of us are lucky to have people in our lives that will just check-in and say…how are you doing on that goal or dream of yours? And they will check in often.

But for the rest of us, we need to create our own accountability structures.

I am obsessed with accountability and for most of my life, didn’t think I needed it and would manage fine without it…well I was WRONG. When I reflect back on my life, I made the most progress when I had strong accountability systems.

I avoided accountability because I didn’t want to feel caged or tied to something. But then I realized I had this all backwards. The cage feeling is our mindset and being too rigid in our own accountability structures or not having the right mix of accountability structures.Β  When you have the right formula of accountability, it will feel like something you look forward to and might I say, even joyful πŸ™‚

So let’s explore some of my favorite accountability structures!

Setting UpΒ Accountability Structures

Instead of just outlining a bunch of accountability structures, I am going to talk about my experience with different accountability ideas and how effective they were for me in terms of productivity, getting outside of my comfort zone and just feeling more joyful during the journey of pursuing goals and dreams.

#1 An accountability partner

An accountability partner is someone you have an agreement with to check-in, talk through and support each other on attaining some kind of goal. It can be virtual or in-person. (All my partners have been virtual and don’t even live in the same State sometimes country as me).

I have had 1 to 2 accountability partners at a time and at first there is so much excitement, check-ins and a lot of ping-ponging between each other and then they can get stale of fizzle out. Accountability partnerships are difficult to maintain consistency because no money is on the line and people get sick, go on vacation or start losing interest in the goal to begin with.

You also need to be a strong accountability partner and have a strong accountability partner in which you can work things out when things get tough, agree to how you want to check-in (frequency, text, phone..etc) and be honest about what is working and isn’t working in order to make improvements to your accountability system.

To have an effective accountability partnership, you will need to mix things up from time-to-time to keep things interesting and evolve the dynamic as you and your partner will naturally evolve due to all the awesome personal development you are supporting each other with. Ideas to keep things interesting: send video messages, voice messages, text messages and have a weekly or bi-weekly call. Post celebrations, obstacles, ask for support, proactively check-in and take interest in your partner (their mindset, their day, goals..etc).

Verdict: 😊 8/10
A game changer for me and the effectiveness was highly dependent on my ownership as a strong accountability partner as well as finding a compatible partner that is working towards the same goal. Even if your partnership fizzles out, the time that you had together will be worthwhile and you will learn so much from each other as well as learn how to become a better accountability partner and make better selection over time.


#2 An accountability app

An accountability app is some sort of habit or tracking app where you track your progress towards your habits, to-do list and goals.

I have tried habit tracking apps (Streaks, Habitica, Fabulous) and the one I stuck to the most was Streaks because it is so simple and I just need to click button when I complete a habit. However, Habitica is new to me (old app but new to me) and appeals to me with the RPG and gamification appeal so I will keep you all posted on that! I’ve used it for 2 days now and I find that I am finding more joy in the “work” and I’m avoiding bad habits such as getting lost in a mobile game or Netflix rabbit hole.

Verdict: πŸ‘ 8/10
Apps are easy to use and don’t have dependencies on humans. They are even more incredible when the app has a social experience and you can invite your friends to join you. However, apps alone are not effective if you are not gifted with the discipline and self-accountability gene. I still recommend you don’t rely solely on apps and have a good human accountability system which I will dive into in the next two suggestions.


#3 A coach

A coach is someone who has experience achieving the goal you are setting out to achieve and has been trained to help you get clarity on what you want, shift your beliefs and how you see yourself as well as get out of your way so you will take empowered action.

Since I am a coach, I am going to be slightly bias here but I have to say because a coach is human, the effectiveness will depend on your compatibility with the coach as well as your readiness to work with a coach

Verdict: 😍 9/10
I have made some of the most profound change in my life working with a coach. WHY? Because my coach has the ability to get me outside of my comfort zone in a way that draws me into it vs feeling pushed against my will. I also feel incredibly supported and safe and it makes the journey much more enjoyable. I am also a person who loves to interact with humans, tell stories and share stories so this medium works very well for me.

A possible downside with coaching is that it can take more time than say hitting a button on an app but the impact goes deeper and you have money on the line and a set schedule so you will show up (just like you do on your job). Also your coach needs to be compatible with you!

But unlike #1 (accountability partner) and #2 (app), a coach is the most similar to your job accountability structure because you have money on the line as well as a set schedule.


#4 A mastermind group

A mastermind group isΒ  a group of people who meet regularly (e.g. weekly) and are all working towards the same goal.

An effective structure is one that you pay for that is lead by someone with experience in the goal you are trying to achieve (without money on the line, you don’t take the appointments as seriously and easy to not show up). Also, if each individual has special talents and strengths, it will make brainstorming much more diverse, interesting and effective.

Verdict: πŸ™Œ 7/10
Mastermind groups bring about a unique dynamic and you can make new friends and learn from some really smart people. They are also set up similar to the work environment where you are collaborating with a team so that each member is supported to accomplish their goals. If money is on the line, even more-so does it mimic the work experience.

However, unless you are handpicking individual for the group, you might end up with a group of people that don’t gel well and the sessions can overall be less effective.


#5 Post-It Notes

Oh those sticky pieces of paper are so delightful and helpful when it comes to achieving our goals.

If you write down your goals, you are most likely to follow-through and if they are staring you in the face every day, even more-so.

With post-it notes, all you need to do is write down your goals and stick it somewhere visible such as your bathroom mirror.

Verdict: πŸ˜‰ 6/10
This is the quickest and cheapest method. Seeing my goals stare me in the face in the morning and before I go to bed is a great “brainwashing” technique! They anchor me in what is most important.

But it alone isn’t super effective especially if you have too many post-it notes everywhere and get lost in the sea of paper. If you can keep it simple (one word or a short phrase per note) and maybe do some visualization around your note, you are set up for much more success.


There are many other accountability methods but I wanted to talk about my favorite ones as this blog would get too long. Other examples are mentors, online challenges, online courses, a step-by-step directed book.

So now you know why we tend to put our job above our personal goals. It all comes down to ACCOUNTABILITY structures! Our 9-5 jobs are set up as a natural accountability environment. But the truth is, it all comes down to you – you gotta take ownership for your own accountability and set up the structure that works best for you in order to knock out your personal goals and dreams.


Now it’s your turn:

1. What accountability structure do you want to try?
2. What accountability structure has worked best for you?
3. Any questions about accountability?

12 Responses

  1. I love talking about accountability. I use Habitica every day and it’s a great app for keeping me headed towards my goals.
    Visibility is also a favorite of mine. you use post-it-notes, I really like making posters and hanging bright visuals on the walls so I’m surrounded by what I’m doing all this work for.
    A favorite quote of mine is “Accountability is the opportunity to live by choice, rather than accidentally.” -Werner Erhard
    Great blog post!

    1. I love that you have taught me so much about Habitica today and I am excited to implement it more and more every day. Again, another artist loving post-it notes (similar to Allan’s comments). Doesn’t surprise me at all πŸ˜€ Thanks for being the spirit of creativity and encouraging me to be creative!

  2. Hi Leanne. Excellent article! I totally relate. Like you said, we work so hard to hit deadlines at work and perform our best but when it comes to our own goals and dreams, it’s easy to procrastinate or approach it halfheartedly. I know for me, I often find myself working overtime for my job, not because I think my job is everything, but in order to mitigate the stress from falling behind at work or trying to get ahead of our to do list at work.

    I think having a coach would help. I know for me, every time it’s 5pm and I am tempted to sacrifice time for my personal goals to work overtime, I would say to myself, “OK, you can do overtime this evening, AFTER you have accomplished X or Y in your personal to-do list.” And I would find that by the time I’m done X or Y, I’m too tired to do overtime for my job, which is a good thing! I still struggle to prioritize my own goals though, so I would imagine having a coach would help.

    1. That’s amazing that you are considering a coach. I wonder if you’ve started exploring what kind of coach? Health? Life? Maybe Career even if you want to change careers? thank you for your reflections πŸ™‚

  3. This resonates so deeply with me and I appreciate you helping me to realize why I’ve been falling short with many of my life goals and dreams. So much of my time and energy is spent setting goals and creating accountability around my business, that I’ve neglected to hold myself accountable to my travel dreams and future life goals. No wonder I’ve been feeling disconnected! Currently I have a great accountability structure in place to support me as an entrepreneur, which consists of an accountability partner that I check in with weekly (and sometime daily for motivation and support), and a group that I connect with virtually each week. This has been incredibly effective for me to feel supported in following through and honoring the commitments I make to myself and my partner/group. I also have a health and fitness accountability partner that I set goals with each week and we support each other to follow through with the commitments we make around our nutrition and physical fitness. I’m also a HUGE fan of sticky notes and am creating a priority board to organize my to do’s/goals that are listed on sticky notes in terms of when they need to be completed. Otherwise I tend to get overwhelmed by 10 sticky notes πŸ™‚

    I would like to create an accountability structure for the dreams and goals that I have outside of my work and business. Since accountability partners have worked so well for me, I think I will find someone who is seeking the same support and establish a new partnership. I’m ready to start taking action instead of feeling like I’m always just dreaming or talking about these amazing things that I want to do. I WILL DO THEM!

    It’s my responsibility and I’m grateful for you reminding me of that, Leanne πŸ™‚ Thank you for sharing these helpful tips, as well as your experience with accountability and what’s been effective in your life.

  4. Well said! Totally agreed what you covered above “Accountability” – the job vs. personal (ie. goals/dreams and etc.) accountability. Some great ideas to take on as simple as like post-it notes.

    Keep up the excellent work and look forward to read more…

  5. Love the article, I at times struggle with accountability and how to manage it for me as well as for others. This article gives me the frame work to relate to accountability and value I want to bring in personal and professional life. I want to explore accountability partner to start of before exploring other options listed.

  6. I’ve realized that after continually working in my habits, I start sharing my tips and be available to become someone else’s’ person. One of the key factors that have helped me is to write everything down and set reminders on my phone, my computer, my agenda, and on post-it notes, that way I feel guilty of not completing my goal or my task.

    For my capstone project, I have created a mastermind group with my friends, and we make sure to keep each other accountable for finishing the project, but most importantly of keeping ourselves healthy and motivated.

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