How to Stay Accountable and Stop Self-Sabotage

Do your actions align with what you seek to accomplish?

Are you doing things or not doing things that undermine your stated goals?

What are your big assumptions that affect how you behave?

Are there hidden intentions that compete with your new habits and initiatives?

To gain traction and execute better on your goals, start with a 12-week action plan instead of a longer term, annual plan. Rather than wait an entire year to track progress and measure results, you do a formal review every 12 weeks.  And in the 13th week, you make a plan for the next 12 weeks.

As part of your routine, you score the week, plan the week, and participate in weekly accountability meetings (WAM). Stay accountable by owning your thinking, choices and actions. Keep your commitments by uncovering hidden intentions, internal contradictions and big assumptions that undermine your desired behavior. 

In episode 28 of The Incrementalist podcast, you will learn:

1. The benefits of making a 12-week action plan for the 12-week year

2. The weekly routine involves scoring the week, planning the week and having accountability meetings

  • The difference between measuring lead versus lag indicators
  • Why you will benefit from a daily review and weekly review to track your actions and progress
  • How a support group can help you when you’re struggling with accountability

3. Accountability is not about negative, external consequences or punishment for bad performance or rewards for good performance. It’s about ownership. 

4. Commitment means you keep your promises to yourself and to others. It is part of being accountable. 

5. Commitment involves:

  • Having a clear, compelling vision of what you want to create in life, which gives rise to intentional imbalance
  • Defining specific key actions to reach big goals
  • Counting the costs, including what you will need to give up and the obstacles you will face

6. The Immunity to Change model and how it affects your capacity to change

  • Competing commitments are for self-protection and self-preservation, but they often get in the way of your accomplishing improvement goals and making necessary change
  • The importance of hitting resistance straight on
  • Why you need to uncover hidden intentions, internal contradictions and big assumptions to execute key actions

7.  Lack of execution – not lack of knowledge, insight, ideas or network – is what most prevents you from aligning with your vision and implementing your desired actions

Resources cited: 

To listen to episode 28, How to Stay Accountable and Stop Self-Sabotage, click here. Subscribe to The Incrementalist at Apple Podcasts or other apps.

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps

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How to Accomplish More in 12 Weeks Than in 12 Months

Do you often fail to follow thorough and take action on your goals?   

Have you been tracking your progress on big projects?

Are you in annual mode where you measure success at the end of the year? 

Do you wait until December to set new goals?

If you’re resisting what you need to accomplish, you might have given yourself too much time to execute your plans. New Year’s Resolutions and annual goals rarely get you to where you need to be and create the life you want.   

Move out of annual thinking and adopt the 12 Week Year. With this planning technique, a year is no longer 12 months; it’s 12 weeks. 1 year = 12 weeks, 1 month = 1 week, and 1 week = 1 day. You are no longer focusing on distant annual goals broken into 4 periods or quarters.

In episode 27 of The Incrementalist podcast, you will learn:

1) The advantages of a 12-week planning system to set and implement big goals

2) How your thinking affects the results

3) The key ingredients of a weekly plan and ways to make it work for you

4) The steps to creating and recreating a 12-week action plan

5) How shorter time frames prompt you to take action and avoid procrastination 

6) The importance of having a clear vision and defining specific tactics to get you where you want to be

7) Time blocking helps you control your day and carve out time to execute your plan

Resources cited: 

To listen to episode 27, How to Accomplish More in 12 Weeks Than in 12 Months, click here. Subscribe to The Incrementalist at Apple Podcasts or other apps.

# # #

Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps

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Get Stressed the Right Way

Do you think of stress as just a negative thing to avoid?

Do you know how to create good and constructive stress?

Are you merely managing stress, or are you leveraging it to sharpen your focus and perform at your peak?

Are you able to use stress to grow to the next level?

Stress is not always bad. It comes with having big goals and pushing beyond your comfort zone. Going off to college, starting a new job, traveling to a foreign country, or launching a business trigger stress. And they also bring feelings of excitement, confidence and achievement.

Stress is positive when it stimulates growth, adaptation and expansion. It’s the chronic, persistent, negative stress that you need to watch out for.   

Stress can be good and productive or it can be toxic and destructive. That’s why it’s important to get stressed the right way. 

Stress is a stimulus that challenges your body and mind to adapt, moves you out of homeostasis, and shift you away from your baseline.

Too much stress and not enough rest lead to injury, illness and burnout. Too little stress and too much rest result in complacency, stagnation and dissatisfaction. 

In episode 26 of The Incrementalist podcast, you will learn:

1) A simple growth equation: Stress + Rest = Growth

  • how to alternate between stress and rest
  • how to get the right dose of stress

2) Why you need to set a just manageable challenge for your current abilities and skills

  • Ideal challenge-skills ratio is – 
  • 7 out of 10, where you succeed most of the time, but need to pay attention to the challenge
  • 4%, where the challenge level is 4% greater than your present skill level

3) What happens to your state of flow when the challenge is too high or too low

4) The difference between the anabolic state and the exhaustion state and how stress affects each

5) Why you need to know your limits and be realistic when setting a challenge

6) The significance of the ultradian rhythm (work-rest cycle in a 24-hour day) 

  • How to use it to your benefit when switching between cycles of work and cycles of rest
  • 90 minutes of deep work followed by 20 minutes of deep rest generally synchs with the ultradian rhythm
  • Why some breaks (e.g. taking a nap or a walk) are better than others (e.g. scrolling social media)

7) The optimal work-rest split depends on your own focus muscle, energy level, the type of task, the time of day, your work schedule and other factors

8) Vacations and extended breaks are critical, and must be accompanied by regular breaks between work sessions each day

9) Whether you view stress as a challenge or as a threat affects your response

  • challenge response triggers DHEA, which boosts testosterone levels and lowers anxiety, worry and neuro degeneration 
  • threat response increases cortisol and inflammatory proteins, which cause inflammation, contribute to depression and impair the immune system. 

10) Two ways to prime yourself for peak performance

  • Customize routines and rituals, which condition your mind and body for focused work
  • Block distractions and interruptions, which stop adaptation to stress

11) The 5 Principles in the Incrementalist approach to make big changes without going too far outside your comfort zone.

Resources cited: 

To listen to episode 26,  Get Stressed the Right Way, click here. Subscribe to The Incrementalist at Apple Podcasts or other apps.

# # #

Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps

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Make Better Decisions Even When You’re Uncertain

Do you know how to make a decision when you have limited information and are pressed for time?

Are you curious to learn information that conflicts with existing beliefs?

Do you focus on the results when determining whether a decision was good or bad?

Are you willing to bet on the decisions you make?

When you’re making a decision on tough problems, you are always missing key information. Every decision is biased because it’s based on limited beliefs, assumptions and data points. You can never be sure of the outcome. 

A bet is a decision about an uncertain future. And decisions are bets in uncertain environments. 

As you seek to learn more, you start to peel back the layers. You become more skilled at finding different pathways and generating creative solutions to complex problems. When a problem cannot be solved with a simple technique or known procedure, being certain will block out conflicting and vital information. The more certain you are, the more-close minded you become. 

Being uncertain can be a key to success because it opens you up to new ideas, insights and information to create the best possible future. Thinking in bets improves your decision-making. You can embrace the power of saying “I am not sure” or “I don’t know.” 

In episode 25 of The Incrementalist podcast, you will learn: 

  • Life is like poker and decisions are bets in uncertain environments
  • Why uncertainty has benefits and how to embrace it
  • Some questions to ask when thinking in bets
  • The reasons you need to separate the outcome quality from the decision quality. (Hint: A good outcome can follow a bad decision and a bad outcome can result from a good decision.) 
  • The role of cognitive dissonance and motivated reasoning in decision-making
  • The advantages of getting out of your echo chambers and considering alternative viewpoints
  • Dr. Robert K. Merton’s ethos of science, or CUDOS approach, for group decision-making and dissenting to win
  • The 10-10-10 approach for your present self to make decisions for your future self
  • Why you need to break big stuff into small action steps to minimize high-pressure, high-stakes decision-making

Resources cited: 

To listen to episode 25, Make Better Decisions Even When You’re Uncertain, click here. Subscribe to The Incrementalist at Apple Podcasts or other apps.

# # #

Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps

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Time Affluence: Create Time to Be Happier

Do you wish you had more time to slow down, relax, and just be happier?

Are you always rushed and overwhelmed?  

Do you feel like you don’t have enough time to do it all?

Are you working longer hours as a way to make more money?

If you want to have a happier, more satisfying life, it’s better to value time over money. It doesn’t matter whether you’re financially secure or financially struggling.  Even when you control for income level, the more time affluence you have, the happier you are. 

Time affluence is feeling that you have enough time to pursue meaningful activities and enjoy leisure. You can exercise, move, relax, travel, volunteer, or engage in social relationships more.

Time poverty is feeling rushed, overwhelmed, stressed and overworked. It’s having too many things to do and not enough time to do them. You can be time poor even if you have loads of money.

In episode 24 of The Incrementalist podcast, you will learn:

1) How to create time affluence by avoiding time traps and staying out of time poverty

2) Why it helps to prioritize time over money

  • The benefits of having a time-focused mindset
  • The difference between a Taylor (who values time more than money) and a Morgan (who values money more than time)

3) How to find time by –

  • Time Auditing and Time Tracking
  • Doing pro time intervention 
  • Setting an Implementation Intention
  • Having a must-win activity
  • Reversing idleness aversion
  • Saying no more often

4) How to fund time by – 

  • Outsourcing disliked chores and tasks
  • Investing in time-saving products and tools

5) How to reframe time by –

  • Tying tedious tasks to broader goals
  • Pairing hard tasks with fun activities

6) The importance of having a long view, planning your leisure time and taking deliberate rest

Resources cited: 

To listen to episode 24, Time Affluence: Create Time to Be Happier, click here. Subscribe to The Incrementalist at Apple Podcasts or other apps.

# # #

Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps

SUBSCRIBE           CONTACT