It’s dark, drizzling, and the alarm clock startles me out of dead sleep. I roll out of bed and shuffle to put on the kettle.

Mike will be waiting at the trailhead 45 minutes from now – that’s just enough time to slurp at my hot mug and stare off into space, then drive to the trailhead. All of the trail running accoutrement needed for the excursion were packed the night before – water, shoes, watch, and a baggy of dehydrated pears - are in a basket by the door. The clothes I am going to wear are in a little pile on the dresser.

I'm going for a trail run at 0’dark:30...because I told my pal Mike I’d be there.

I go through this same ritual when I get up to teach early morning yoga. Gather supplies, set alarm, aim for a good amount of sleep, beep-beep-beep. Shuffle to kettle...and get to the studio because someone is counting on me. Rinse, repeat.

Once the running shoes are kicked off and the students roll up their mats, my morning is beautifully started.

Not once have I thought “I wish I wouldn’t have started my day like this.”

I often set the alarm with good intentions, but without the key ingredient - that extra commitment of someone expecting me. This plan inevitably results in four rounds of the snooze button, followed by mindless scrolling through my phone. Then I barely make it to the first scheduled work thing on calendar without ever stepping tread to trail or toe to mat.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a well-meaning being who knows that I am happier and healthier when I prioritize time in my body. But I am also an easily-distracted being. One who is subject to moods, unfolded laundry, and every other flavor of diversion.

The technical term for the tool I use to bypass my natural proclivity for the snooze button is called "external accountability."

External accountability comes from the outside in, being accountable, not to oneself, but to others. I will cancel on myself without much thought, but no-showing on a friend?

I. Would. Never.

It’s an uplifting concept when you think about it. WE need our community to be successful. To quote the Sgt. Pepper album, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

Connecting this concept back to our yoga practice is surprisingly simple. Here’s a couple methods I am currently using with positive results…

(Skreeetch, abrupt stop. Whoa, whoa, whoa! Results and yoga in the same sentence?! Don’t panic. I am not talking about a results-driven practice on the mat. The only “result” I am striving for is actually making it on my mat. Being unattached to what happens once we get there is a whole other can of worms that I am now, and forever, working on.)

So, back to those ideas…

Make plans with a friend to attend a class together.

Set a goal of how many classes you’d like to attend by a certain date. Share your goal and ask someone to check in on how you’re progressing.

Tell a teacher that you plan on being at their next class.

And this is worth mentioning- I used external accountability to get these words onto this page.

“Absolutely Kelly. I can get this done, but will you ask me about it mid-week? A reminder that you are expecting this from me will help me get it done.”

She checked in, I wrote things down. Hey, it works!

See you and your friends at 7 a.m.


To learn more about your response and relationship to accountability, check out Gretchen Rubin’s research on the Four Tendencies. Click here to take a quiz!

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