If you, like many, have ever struggled with a goal or achievement, you may have noticed that accountability counts. There are many self-motivators out there and that’s great, but most of us realize we need a champion on our side to keep pushing us. Let’s break down the reasons and benefits of being held accountable and how it brings us closer to our goals.
Here’s another example. Imagine you have a fitness goal, but you’re doing it alone, without anyone checking in on you. You’re also managing a family and work. When you’re busy, you’re too busy, and when you’re home, you’re too tired. The likelihood of doing any exercise is slim to none on a daily basis. This leads to frustration, aggravation, and ultimately giving up.
Now imagine you joined a gym and maybe even an online challenge. You are not alone; you are with others in the same or similar challenge. You have a daily check-in and you need to report your workout for the day. Someone is expecting something of you; you have to have something to show for it. You do the push-ups, the jumping jacks, the sit-ups, whatever is required. Maybe you plan and wake up early. Maybe you do them late at night because you almost forgot, but you do them. They happen.
You start to feel the difference and it’s great. You’re motivated by the success you’ve already shown and you’re gaining momentum. Accountability is working. You even decide to start adding goals and doing something with your recent success. Maybe you sign up for a 5K thinking for the first time that you can do that!
A study published by JAMA in 2021 looked at the success rate in weight loss programs for groups versus individuals. Those who participated in in-person group weight loss therapy benefited greater than those in individual weight loss therapy. There was even a telephone measure with groups that fared better than the in-person individuals. This only supports the need for accountability.
Even in the workforce, most people will notice greater production when supervisors and managers are checking in on their staff. Of course, this needs to be a positive check-in in order to be most productive, but leaving staff to their own devices and timelines is not typically the most successful in the business world. Another important factor is for staff to know their expectations so the goal is clear. Knowing what’s expected of you and having a deadline is a driving force for goal achievement.
Accountability isn’t just a nagging force to prod us along. It’s a support system that encourages us, getting right in the trenches of our struggles and helping us see the ladder that gets us up and out. It reminds us why we want to climb that ladder. Whoever holds us accountable should be someone who wants our success as much as we do. This could be a loved one, a boss, a friend, or a coach.
How and Why it Works
Loved ones and friends know us personally and are great supporters for self-care and personal health. Some may remember an ad for quitting smoking that showed a man cutting a photo. He slipped the photo into the clear lining of his cigarette pack. Next, we see him outside, about to pull out a cigarette. He looks at the photo and smiles. It’s a little girl in a bike helmet. Then, he slides the cigarette back in and goes inside. His little one didn’t even need to be there; she held him accountable at that moment.
When done with love, accountability is powerful! But that’s not the only way accountability works. Coaches hold coaching partners accountable as well as they reach for their goals. Coaches will help their coaching partners set goals, confirm that those are the goals they want, then confirm again when those goals (or certain steps of those goals) will be met. Upon meeting again, coaches will ask coaching partners if the required items were completed. Coaching partners know they will be held accountable for these things. This is part of what makes coaching work because accountability works!
Benefits of Accountability
Here’s a list of twelve reasons why accountability is so beneficial (taken from Darren Finkelstein, the Accountability Guy):
- Makes You Responsible – When it’s your job to do something (especially in the first responder world) you take that seriously!
- Promotes Ownership – The feeling of “I did that!” is amazing!
- Lessens Conflict – You can’t blame someone else for something you own.
- Improves Performance – You are driven to do better.
- Helps Measure Progress – Check-ins are crucial to accountability, so you can see your success growing in this way!
- Inspires Confidence – By seeing your success in smaller steps, you gain confidence as well.
- Builds Trust – As you grow in confidence, you actually start to trust yourself more as well. That plus the person holding you accountable is trusting you.
- Helps You Validate Your Thoughts and Ideas – When someone is holding you to it, your thoughts and ideas to accomplish this thing are validated.
- Supports You in Doing New Things – You will start to take on the challenge with more determination and step out of your comfort zone, trying new methods and taking action in new ways.
- Eliminates Things that Hold You Back – When you have a job you must do, your barriers start to crumble because you’re finding new ways around them to get the job done.
- Minimizes Self-Pity – The sense of responsibility that comes with accountability fills the space self-pity needs to thrive. In other words, you’re too busy goal crushing to feel bad about yourself.
- Helps You Build Connections – You’re not only building connections with whoever is holding you accountable, but you’re more confident and open to speaking to others about the same goals. Your village is building.