I’ve noticed that a lot of people tend to shy away from being held accountable. They seem to worry about the penalties which might be imposed if something goes wrong. But that’s the wrong thing to focus on.
Think of accountability as:
- Taking responsibility for who you are and what you do
- Being a reliable person
Would you like for others to be able to rely on you?
And more importantly, do you want to be able to rely on yourself?
So mature accountability shouldn’t really be such a scary thing. When it’s founded on reality and reasonableness, it’s one of the key things that makes a mature society work. You wouldn’t entrust your money to a bank if no one held that bank accountable for giving it back to you.
You wouldn’t entrust your friendship to someone who didn’t hold themselves accountable for returning that trust.
Now, on to the important conclusion: Holding yourself accountable. Besides my best intentions, I tend to back-slide on my commitments to myself. The key trick is incredibly simple: Declare your intention to someone you respect.
Here’s why it works:
- It clarifies the goal and commitment in my mind, because I have to put it into words.
- It builds my confidence when someone else also believes that I will follow through.
- It increases the odds that I will follow through, because I always have the internal motivation generated by knowing that person might come back and ask me about it. Because I respect them, I don’t want to disappoint them.
I find that people are quite forgiving when I run into barriers and need to change direction. So it rarely imposes extra constraints on my actions that I didn’t already have.