Today’s blog is about accountability – Gretchen Rubin titled this chapter “Someone’s Watching.”
Although that title may be a bit over-the-top, research shows that people do a better job of keeping their commitments when there is some form of accountability. It might even be someone watching.
Rubin defines accountability as meaning we face consequences for what we’re doing, even if the consequence is merely the fact that someone else is monitoring us. “Accountability is a powerful factor in habit formation” which is the focus of her book Better Than Before. Accountability can take the form of deadlines, late fees if we don’t pay bills on time, grades, attendance records, etc. “When we believe that we may be held accountable for our actions – even when we’re accountable only to ourselves – we show more self-command.”
Rubin points out that when we don’t feel accountable we tend to behave worse. She suggests that investing in systems of accountability actually help us stick to our goals. Examples of accountability systems include fitness trainers, financial planners, coaches, professional organizers, and nutritionists.
Another accountability strategy that works for some is to go public – announce a commitment you’re making. One of her clients stated, “When I tell people my goals, I feel ‘uber’ committed to them.” However, Rubin acknowledges that a public declaration can have the opposite effect on others. The key is to use your self-knowledge and self-awareness to recognize whether you are a “public resolver” or a “private resolver.”
Tomorrow I’ll share more about accountability partners and also explore the perspective of “curious accountability” from the Awareness Engagement Completion Model (AEC) I’ve mentioned before.