“Obligers do things more easily for others than for themselves. For them, the key is external accountability.” – Gretchen Rubin
I am more likely to get something done if someone else asks me to do it. If I agree to cook something for your get-together, count on me. If I’m on a committee to run an event, my part will get done. Certainly I was dependable when reporting to someone at past jobs.
Unfortunately, I don’t always succeed as well with integrity with myself. If I decide to do something, but I don’t commit to someone else, it may not get done.
I had signed up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which was this month, November. I planned to write at least 30,000 words (even though official success is 50,000 words.) During the first week, I was excited about the Chicago Cubs being in the World Series. We had company over, and then I got caught up in the drama before and after the United States presidential election. Our daughter moved out, making my husband and me empty-nesters. Bottom line: I did not keep my commitment to myself to write a significant amount in November. I let other things get in the way.
I think if I had made a deal with someone that we’d both write 30,000 words, I’d have done better. According to a quiz by Gretchen Rubin, this means I’m an Obliger. “Obligers respond readily to outer expectations, but struggle to meet inner expectations. In other words, they work hard not to let other people down, but they often let themselves down.” Obligers like me tend to be people-pleasers.
I’ve learned that I can use my people-pleasing tendencies to my advantage by finding someone to hold me accountable for my goals. I don’t want to let them down, so I’m more likely to do my part. By using external accountability this way, as a tool, I hope to develop integrity with myself.
An example is that my friend Rachell and I hold each other accountable for getting our blog posts done once a month. One month, my blog post wasn’t even on my radar when she first poked me via a Facebook message. She continued to poke me, perhaps understanding that I was struggling. Even when I was against the deadline and expressing doubts about getting it done, Rachell expressed her faith in me, and I wrote and published the post. I do the same for her.
In the past, I’ve had success with other means of accountability.
- My friend Krishna and I agreed to write an article or short story regularly by a certain date. We then reviewed each other’s work by meeting via Skype.
- Being in a running club and signing up for events worked well for me. If I had signed up, I felt committed.
- I participated in a group on Facebook where I could post my daily workouts. If it wasn’t a running day for me, I walked. And I walked longer than I might have otherwise because “20-minute walk” didn’t sound like enough to post.
- Several years ago, I tried to do the Artist Way program on my own. I read the book but didn’t complete the tasks until recently when I took an Artist Way class. We had to report what we did for an Artist Date each week; how many times we did morning pages; which tasks we completed. I’m happy to tell you that I finished the program.
- Belonging to Weight Watchers helps me keep my weight under control because I am weighed when I go to a meeting. That is accountability.
It is best if we have integrity on our own, so that if we say we’ll do something, we do it. But external accountability can be a tool for learning integrity. My accountability with Rachell for writing blog posts is turning into an internal habit. When I near the end of the month, I feel driven to write a blog post.
I read the following in an article about getting ready for Lent, but it rings true for any goal: “People often find that they’re much more likely to keep their resolutions when they hold themselves accountable to another person. Knowing that someone walks with us, even if it’s not exactly the same path, can be a great comfort and motivator.”
If I want to accomplish my dreams, I need to continue to seek people who will hold me accountable as I do the same for them. This will help me develop good habits and eventually to hold myself accountable.
A friend told me that she and friends once did their own version of NaNoWriMo in January, when life may be calmer than in November. Anyone interested in holding each other accountable for writing in January? Let’s talk.
Do you have integrity to yourself? Who holds you accountable?