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How to Stay Accountable In Online Classes


Have you ever signed up for an online class, but never got around to doing a thing with it? You’re in the right place. We’re gonna talk about online class accountability today.

Taking an online, self-paced course is awesome because you can do it when it fits into your schedule. But let’s be honest: sometimes our pace turns out to be…never.  If you’ve ever registered for an online class and not actually taken it, then we have something in common.

Somewhere out there lives an entire village of untaken, unopened class lessons, desperately waiting for you to log in, so they can teach you how to finally knit your cat a unicorn horn.

I offer some pretty great online classes, but I don’t want you to sign up and not take it. I want you to really benefit from them.

Here’s how:

1. Enroll with a Friend:  Ask a friend or colleague with similar interests to take the class with you. Start the course at the same time and make a schedule together, so that you’re both progressing through the lessons at about the same pace. Then hold each other accountable by planning to discuss it on a regular basis. You can do this in person over brunch or by email. Or try a quick daily check-in message (“DONE!”) with no need for a reply to one another.

Have a lot of friends? Ask a bunch of them to enroll in the class and make it a work project or a book club-like event. My Compassion in Balance alumni group is currently doing a 30 Days of Yoga practice together and we post photos and comments in our private Facebook group to let each other know we’ve hit the mat that day. Group accuntabilty – woot!

Hooray for Accountability Partners (and Keith Haring)!
Hooray for Accountability Buddies (and Keith Haring)!


2. Go Public: We’re more likely to stick to our commitments when other people know about our goals. Tell people in your life that you’re taking the class and what you hope to achieve. Make it known.

I hate to let people down, so I always feel more incentive to do the work when I’ve told people about it. When we keep our goals a secret, we give ourselves the chance to strike all kinds of deals to let ourselves off the hook.

You can also use social media to hold yourself accountable. Sometimes just the act of posting your goals and progress to an audience is enough to keep you plugging away.

3. Create Content:  Bloggers, this one is for you. As a spin off to #2, if you already have an audience, think of the class you’re taking as content fodder. It can be tough to find new things to write about every week. Use the structure of the class to create new content. You can write weekly posts to correspond with each lesson and share your progress. Or your can write a wrap-up post when you finish the class to share what you’ve learned. Announce to your readers early on that you’re in class. Knowing your readers are waiting for your thoughts on the topic will help keep you in school.

4. Schedule It: Before you get started, look at your calendar and life. Is this the right time to start or should you wait a couple of months to dive in? Where can you block out time each week to do the lessons?

Plan to start the course when you feel like it’s realistic for you, but then stick to it by blocking out time in your calendar to do the work. Make a commitment to start each lesson on a specific date and mark down any live calls or webinars. Do this in advance – so your schedule reflects your commitment.

I can never get enough of these chickens. They really speak to my soul, you know? (source)


5. Set Your Intention: Be clear about why you’re taking the class. We’re all so busy and have a trillion things pulling at our attention. Reflect on why you hit “buy now!”, so you know why you’re willing to pass up New Girl reruns to do the homework.

Here’s a question to help you figure out your intention for the class: What do you hope to be able to do differently because of this course? Try to be very specific. This will help keep you motivated when the going gets tough.


So that’s it folks – a few ideas for how not to fall off the online-class wagon!


If you’re looking for a class to take this year and you work with animals, may I suggest my classes? Let’s hang out!



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