Accountability is a big word. It might sound scary and confusing, but it has massive potential to make you more successful at accomplishing your goals. Here’s the short answer to why accountability is important:
In my 15 years of goal-setting and accountability to myself and managers, I’ve learned a great deal about it. I’ve discovered that it’s important because it makes you more likely to accomplish your goals and gives you valuable information about how to move forward.
We’re going to dive into each of these, but first, let’s do some word math to figure out the basics of what accountability means and start understanding it’s importance.
Similar to when we discussed why goals are important, we get the following relationship from our title:
Accountability = Important
First, let’s define these two separately so we can put them back into this equation and understand it’s meaning better.
According to Google, accountability is “the fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility.”
If we break the word down further, we get:
Account – ability
When defining these two words, we get the following:
Account: “a report or description of an event or experience”
Ability: “possession of the means or skill to do something.”
The event or experience we’re curious about here is achieving our goals.
In other words, accountability is the means or skill to provide a report or description of how you are doing at achieving your goals.
The definition of important that you get after searching on Google is:
“Of great significance or value; likely to have a profound effect on success, survival, or well-being.”
Now let’s plug this definition and the one we discovered for accountability into our previous equation:
The means or skill to provide a report or description of how you are doing at achieving your goals is of great significance or value; likely to have a profound effect on success, survival, or well-being.
I like to simplify things to make them even more understandable. Doing that we get to:
Reporting on how your goals are going to yourself or others will have a profound effect on success.
Let’s dive into these reasons why this is true. Along the way, you’ll find out some ways you can take advantage of the power of accountability.
Accountability is Important Because it Makes you Perform Better on Your Goals
“When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates”
– Thomas Monson
Since Derek Sivers’ 2010 TED Talk about keeping your goals to yourself, there has been a lot of debate on whether or not telling your goals to other people is a good idea.
He argues that, according to research, by sharing your goals with others you’ll become “less motivated to do the actual hard work necessary” to make them happen.
But there’s good news from a 2019 study which found that it all depends on who you share your goals with.
Talking with any random person about your goals probably won’t provide the performance boost you’re looking for. That’s because you generally don’t care about their opinions.
But if you can find someone to share your goals with that you consider to be of higher status than you or if you respect their opinions, you’re more likely to succeed after telling them.
I have a coach, for example, who keeps me accountable to what I tell him I’m working on. I trust his opinion and highly respect his status as a coach.
Each week I tell him what I’m working on and anticipate having to report to him on my commitment. This makes me more likely to stick to my goals because I know how I’ll feel if I fail.
More than that though, I know how great it feels to report success!
If you need someone to help you become accountable, shoot me a message and I’d be glad to help as long as my schedule at the time permits!
Accountability Is Important Because It Gives You Information About Where You’ve Been and Where You Need to Go Next
Every Sunday I enjoy reflecting on the previous week, accounting for what I’ve done, and preparing for the week ahead. When I finish I report first to my wife and later to my coach for additional insights and accountability.
The entire process is called a weekly review and perfectly encompasses what it means to be accountable.
But what I’ve loved the most about it is that it gives me a great snapshot of how the week went that I can use to plan for the weeks, quarters, and even years ahead.
My tracking system is set up so that I can see percentages each day representing how well I’ve done at my goals for the day. At the end of the week, it also lets me see how I did with each individual goal in a percentage.
I can see whether I need to continue a goal, update it, stop it, or start a new one because I know exactly where I’m at with each one.
My system also shows me which areas and days I overperformed or underperformed in. This gives me information on whether it’s time to push myself harder, in the cases that I overperformed, or cut my goals down wherever I’ve underperformed.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how much information accountability can give you.
It’s also helped me discover what career path I should follow, what actions actually make me closer to my kids, and what’s really working to make me healthier.
Now it’s Your Turn
If you want to take advantage of the power of accountability, I recommend starting with doing a weekly review. It can be as simple as asking yourself “how did I do this week?” and writing the answer in a journal.
Another important way we’ve mentioned to become more accountable is to hire a coach. When you report to a coach, they can identify potential improvements in just a few minutes that you might miss for years.
One of my favorite methods to keep an account of how you’re doing is with a good tracking system. You can get a free copy of the one I created as part of the Goal Engineering Starter Kit below!
Whatever approach you take to unlock the power of accountability, start small and you can begin seeing results today!