Jeff Denton is the pastor at Waterbrook Bible Fellowship, Wylie.
Have you ever had one of those days when you get things accomplished for everyone else, but never seem to get the things crossed off your list? You can accomplish what other people want from you. Why is it you’re not meeting your own expectations? What is it that keeps you from accomplishing your goals?
You can meet your work deadline, but can’t get to bed by the time you want each night. You can help the kids with a million projects, but never have the time to read the book that’s been on your nightstand for months. You can bake a cake for a friend’s birthday, but still haven’t been able to start eating healthier. If this sounds familiar to your inner monologue, you may want to seek out some accountability.
Accountability is making yourself responsible to someone or something besides yourself. It’s inviting an outside force in to push you toward your personal goals. The person described above might say they don’t need accountability. He has a list of things he’s accomplished to prove he can get things done. She probably makes the excuse she just doesn’t have enough time to accomplish things for herself.
However, this person needs to recognize the things he or she is getting done is because of accountability in place with others. What gets done are the things others are expecting, have deadlines, consequences, or late fees. What doesn’t get checked off the list are the things for himself. There’s no enforcement from the outside.
Internal accountability is enough for some people. These folks set a goal and get it done. Some people find enough motivation though that agreement with themselves. However, that doesn’t work for the person who keeps missing their personal goals. He needs an external push to get personal things done.
Solomon wrote, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” We might be able to turn around what we believe is a personal failure if we just had someone alongside to help us get up when we’ve fallen.
Accountability can happen by joining a group of like-minded people. It might happen by joining a team sport to exercise more regularly. It’s why people join a dieting group or Alcoholics Anonymous. When students form a study group they’re banding together with others who have the same stated goals. By joining with others, you’re more likely to continue pursuing what you say you want because you know these other people will ask you about it.
You can find accountability outside a group setting by engaging a personal coach for fitness or a life skill. A mentor, someone who has gone through something you’re experiencing now, can help pass on their experience and press you forward.
It’s best to have someone who is asking about your personal goals and deadlines. Having that person looking over your shoulder can provide the inspiration many people are unable to muster on their own. However, it doesn’t always have to happen as blatantly as a direct coaching relationship.
You may be able to produce outside accountability by inviting someone over in a week to see the room you plan to paint. Or by asking a friend to proofread something you’ve been wanting to write and telling them when you’ll get it to them. You can promise your family a weekend trip if you’re able to save better and spend less over the next six months. By inviting others into your goals, you’re giving them an invitation to inquire about your progress. The simple act of voicing your goal to someone else may be enough of a push to get you started. This informal accountability can sometimes be enough to help you with the new habits you’ve been wanting to develop.
For those who can accomplish things for other people and meet external deadlines, it’s not motivation you need. You’re able to find that within the expectations of others. It’s accountability beyond yourself that may be the key to seeing those internal goals accomplished.
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