On the flip side, as both a yoga teacher and a writing coach, I know how powerful accountability really is.
Having taught hundreds of yoga clients one-on-one, it’s extremely rare that someone writes me a large check for a package of 10 private lessons and then vanishes into the woodwork.
Yes, paying the larger cash investment helps guarantee a commitment, but even greater than that is the accountability to me as their trainer. Unlike hitting the snooze alarm for an hour and blowing off a morning spin class, if we’ve made a 7 a.m. appointment I will definitely be knocking on their door at 6:59 a.m. That accountability makes all the difference in the world.
I’ve observed similar phenomena with my writing clients. I can always tell when someone is actually going to achieve his or her goals or whether when I circle back to them in two or three years, they will be in the exact same situation. I wish it were a testament to my psychic abilities, but it’s not. It’s entirely to do with the accountability they’ve created (or not).
In “real life,” we’re often held accountable by pure economic necessity (i.e., if we don’t show up for our nine-to-five, we'll become homeless) or an observant partner, roommate, or cable company (“I’m sorry, but why don’t you have your share of this month’s electric bill?”).
When we’re pursuing our creative or personal dreams, however, we’re usually totally on our own. No one’s prodding us to write the screenplay or novel we’ve been dreaming about, perhaps have even started, making sure we fill up the blank page.
Even worse, sometimes key people in our lives may be unknowingly sabotaging our success.
Rather than affirming your fitness goals, all your friends might, in a spirit of loving support, tell you not to worry about those 15 pounds you know you desperately want to lose. They mean well, but they’re agents of destruction for your workouts.
Someone might just be too close to really be objective or unabashedly honest. Worse still, an inappropriate accountability partner might have conflicts with your success, secretly hoping that you maintain the status quo rather than achieving your full potential.