I was talking to a friend a while back, she mentioned an older woman in her life who she gets together regularly with to share: what is going on in her life, what’s weighing on her mind, and what she is considering for the future. This woman prays for her, encourages her and challenges her. She is an honest ear that she knows will challenge her to follow through with what she says and provide a loving perspective to think about. This is something I talk with women about in almost every coaching session- establishing accountability. Having a person or people that you can be honest with and challenged by when you are trying to do something different or change your life, is so important.
Accountability can be used in different ways. Sometimes it’s a matter of letting someone know that you have set a goal and you want them to ask you about it in the future to hold you to your commitment. Other times its a relationship that provides you regular honesty and accountability. Sometimes its a group of people that hold you to be a certain way of being. In her podcast “Happier”, TV writer, Elizabeth Craft, says that she has told her coworkers that she does not eat cupcakes. She did this because she knows that their opinion of her is important and she won’t give in to the temptation to eat cupcakes at work. It also keeps her from having to be exposed to the temptation of her coworkers asking her if she wants one every time they are brought to the office.
Accountability is a regular part of certain aspects of life, like school and work. Then there are organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous and Weight Watchers that build their change plans and support around accountability. I see the power of accountability all of the time when I get to be a part of a family caregiver support group. They talk about how they want to change how they care for their husband or do something to make their life easier. Then others ask them if they followed through.
Last spring, I started an accountability group with some girlfriends. I love it! I am still trying to come up with a better name for it then “accountability group.” We get together one time a month. We laugh about what’s happening and grump about it. And it’s very real. We share where we are at. We talk about a part of life we want to change. We share how we are struggling with it. Encourage each other and make a goal for the next time we meet.
Why is accountability important? It’s easy to think about the things we want. And it can be even easier to come up with goals for making changes. But then that whole putting things into practice for the long term is hard. When we bring others in on our desires and changes, it is one of the most amazing things.
This is what accountability does:
Says we aren’t alone.
Gives us ideas for looking at our situation differently to make us more successful
Brings clarity to help us figure out what we really want
Keeps us from talking ourselves out of the changes we want to make
Makes our desires more real
Provides us with a sounding board for the hard parts and victories of change
Helps us trouble shoot obstacles to a change that we face
Provides emotional and prayer support for the change
However, we are hesitant to take advantage of accountability. It’s hard to do because it forces us to be vulnerable with others in a way that makes us feel a little naked. And what if we fail then others will know. But if we do tell then we have the power of everything listed above.
Tell someone what you are going through today and who you are being called to be through the changes you want to make in your life. I bet that person needs to tell you too. Consider being a part of an accountability group or hiring a coach to help.