Accountability Can Change Your Life

I have conversations with people all the time about accountability. 

It’s something I’ve used for years now to get things done. Without it, I wouldn’t have a business at all. 

But when I start talking about it with most people, their eyes kind of glaze over. Especially when I get into the specifics of accountability partners and traps. 

This can be really frustrating for me.   

Studies have shown that you are “65% more likely to complete your goals” using accountability. And when you work with an accountability partner, it goes up to 95%.  

That’s huge! 

So why are people so hesitant to even talk about it? 

This is just my opinion, but I think it’s because people are scared of failing. And when there’s something or someone you’re holding yourself accountable to, a potential failure is going to hit you even harder. 

I do get that. I’m petrified of failing.  

But accountability is what helps me prevent it. 

So let’s break down what it actually is: accountability means that you are declaring you will be responsible for your actions. Simple as that. 

The best way to be accountable for your goals is to:

  1. Make SMART goals — If you don’t already know, SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based.
  2. Break your goals up into smaller actions that will make your main goal easier to complete.
  3. Find an accountability partner — It should be somebody who isn’t afraid to be upfront and straight with you if you’re falling down on your goals. And it should be an equal partnership. The best accountability partner is one that you’re helping, as well.  
  4. Create traps. More on that in a bit.  

Think about all the big goals people strive for and often fail to achieve.  

“I want to lose 50 pounds by the end of the year.”

That might be doable depending on a number of factors. But the problem starts when people don’t set smaller goals to get there, and they don’t ask for help in attaining those goals.  

If you have an accountability partner that is also trying to lose weight, you’ll have a better chance of getting there. You can: 

  • check in with each other at the end of every week to make sure you’ve both worked out the number of times you’ve committed to, 
  • compare food journals to see that you’re both hitting your calorie and nutrition goals,
  • help each other track weight and body measurements, 
  • even check-in nightly to see how many steps both of you have walked during the day.

Losing weight is hard, but doing it with somebody makes it easier.  

That’s just a hypothetical example though. For a real-life example, I think about my girlfriend. 

She can be pretty hesitant around things like accountability, but even she understands the value of it. 

When I met her, she smoked. A lot.

And for a very long time, she had no desire to quit. But then her dad, a lifelong smoker, died of a stroke at 55. Struggling with grief and depression after his death, she knew she needed to make some changes. The first thing to go was cigarettes.

She also knew people wouldn’t believe that she was actually going to quit, especially since she planned to quit cold turkey. No patches, no gum, no meds. 

So she set a date on the calendar and told everybody she knew that this going to be the day she stopped smoking. Additionally, she also put a sticker on every day of the calendar that she didn’t smoke. Even one puff of somebody else’s means she got no sticker that day. 

Within two weeks, she was done. Her drive not to look stupid in front of her friends and family and her competitive nature, even with herself, to see a calendar full of stickers helped her quit. 

It’s now been over 10 years smoke-free. And she credits that accountability for being able to do it. 

Accountability can help in every aspect of your life though, not just with your personal goals.

I have a morning accountability show, Morning BIL, with my buddy, Jake. We’re both entrepreneurs who are striving to be more successful. Every morning, we check in, see where we are, what we’ve accomplished, and what we still need to work on. And then on Fridays, we set new goals for the coming week. 

This is helping both of us grow our businesses and explore new avenues for success. (Or avoid some that could lead to failure.)

Not only do we hold each other accountable, but we publicly set traps for ourselves.  

Traps work like this: once you’ve set your goals for a specific amount of time, you set a trap for what happens if you don’t complete it. A trap should be something you really don’t want to be forced to do, and it typically works best with sending money to a cause that goes against your belief system.

Money is a great motivator. So if you risk sending an uncomfortable amount of money to a cause you are adamantly against, you’ll be even more likely to hit your goals. 

This is where people really balk at the idea of doing this. But I’m here to tell you, it works!

Start small, both with your goals and your traps, and see what works for you. Then build onto it. Pretty soon, you might notice that you’re using accountability for everything. From spending time with family to growing your business. 

So what are your big goals? How can accountability help you achieve them?