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Veterinary Team Accountability

January 27, 2015

Often times I speak with veterinary team members about accountability. It seems there is a strong case for the OTHER person to be accountable, when in all actuality, we need to look inward, first. To make positive changes in your life you must be accountable for your outcomes. Gwen Pettit, one of CATALYST’s Team Consultants, offers you a few strategies to take action!

Here’s to taking accountability for your life!                                                                                                       Rebeccca Rose, CVT

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Personal Accountability

One of the greatest myths around is that we are entitled to a meaningful, happy life filled with a successful career, supportive relationships and financial security.  There is a great disappointment when we expect all of this to just happen to us. Is there any chance of living a fully integrated satisfying life in this age of chaos, uncertainty and ongoing change?

Yes, if you are willing to be 100% accountable for your actions, responses and outcomes.

No, if you blame outcomes on outside events, other people and wait for the good things to just happen to you.

No, if you keep blaming yourself for poor outcomes without making any change in your behavior or attitude.

There is a simple formula to explain accountability.  Outcomes are a result of your actions and your attitudes.

Here is an example. Are you frequently late to work because of the traffic? Do you blame the traffic or do you plan on how to get out of the house earlier to allow for the traffic?  Your actions are responsible for your outcomes.  When you find yourself in the blaming, complaining mode: will this situation ever improve? Complaining about events will not help you change or improve the outcomes.  Complaining just means that you know there is a better option out there.  The feelings and consequences of starting off the day late is just a small warning signal that your actions are creating a difficult beginning.  Your driving may put you at a greater risk when you are rushing or trying to make up time. So instead of waiting for a bigger negative effect of your behavior- you could choose to change your response to traffic. Successful people accept their own behavior as part of the outcome and determine what they need to do to improve the situation. Making a small change helps prevent the bigger disasters.

The next question is: Are you willing to change and take action to change your outcomes?

Life becomes much easier when you respond to uncomfortable situations sooner.

If you just accept that traffic will make you late, this leads to a sense of hopelessness and lack of control.  Can you control the traffic? No. What is under your control? You are directly responsible for your thoughts, attitudes and actions.   You can change your actions to avoid traffic by taking a different route or changing the time that you leave home. You can change your attitude by listening to educational material or favorite music to use the time in your car differently. Either of these solutions will change your outcomes. Both of them require you to change instead of expecting the traffic or situation to change for you.

What happens when you end up working late every night? You are working as hard as you can, trying to keep up with notes, phone calls and all the demands of a busy practice. The small stress of a few weeks of this turn into bigger stress as your health suffers; you are losing sleep and never really feel relaxed. Does this sound familiar?  You are too stressed out to pay attention to family, friends or do anything after work. After months or years of this, the outcomes built up to lost relationships, no support system and feelings of despair that now create a mental health crisis.

Sometimes no action allows a bad situation to escalate into a very poor outcome just from lack of awareness.

What are your choices?  Start by paying attention to the situation. To make a change in patterns you need to start by understanding them. How do you spend your time each day? Look for situations where your time flows and where you get stuck. Ask for help. Find out who does get their notes done and how do they do it.

Here is a coach approach to personal accountability- Use these questions to make a plan for a better outcome.

  1. What is a difficult situation in your life?
  2. What are the benefits you have for keeping this the same?
  3. What are the costs to you to keeping it the same?
  4. What are you doing or not doing that allows this situation to exist?
  5. What are you ignoring or pretending not to know?
  6. What do you want?
  7. What actions are you willing to take or what requests could you make to get what you want?
  8. When will you take the first action?

To make positive changes in your life you must be accountable for your outcomes.

Practice mindfulness.  Mindfulness is simply the ability to be fully present in the current moment. Mindfulness will help you notice the small stress situations.

Look for solutions– find areas where you can make small changes. Take action. Monitor the results of that one action. Keep adjusting small steps until you are satisfied that you are getting the results you want.

Give up the language of blaming and self blaming– look for where you can make a change to get a better result.

Practice self–compassion. Self -compassion is treating yourself with kindness and understanding that you are human and will make mistakes. Allowing mistakes to be part of your learning process instead of feeling badly about them.

Practice self-care.  Taking care of your own physical, emotional and health needs gives you the energy and ability to enjoy life to the fullest.

Personal accountability does not mean you have to make changes alone. Most people are more successful with making a change when they have a support system.

Get help if this is overwhelming.  Talk to friends, family, colleagues, a counselor or a coach. For those of you in Colorado, contact the Veterinary Peer Assistance Program. ( 303-369-0039)

You have the power to be in control of your own life. Step up to the role by making small manageable changes in your actions and attitude. Life is made up of small choices made one day at a time.  Start small and think big to create a life where you are actively in charge of your outcomes.  Remember that attitude and action are the keys to getting to your desired outcomes in life.

CATALYST Team Member

Gwen Pettit

Gwen Pettit, a CATALYST Team Consultant, is a certified life coach with the International Coaching Federation with a Masters in Organizational Development.. Gwen specializes in coaching veterinary professionals who are overwhelmed with the competing demands on their time and want to create an integrated meaningful life. She is one of three Illuminating Veterinary Women’s Retreat Facilitators.