Holding Each Other Accountable

“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.


Woman Writing a Letter by Frans van Mieris

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?

About Susan Ekins

Freelance writer and blogger at Women Making Strides. Interested in personal leadership and empowerment. Wanting inspiration and to inspire. Leader in church ministries. Blog: http://www.WomenMakingStrides.com/ Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/WomenMakingStrides1
This entry was posted in Leading Ourselves, personal leadership, Support and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Holding Each Other Accountable

  1. Sarah says:

    Great article and topic. I’ve been struggling to get more active than just walking my dog 2-3 times a day. I decided I’d commit to 30 days of light stretching/yoga at home because that’s the starting point that felt right for me. I even decided to make it super easy on myself by only committing to 10 minutes per day with the idea that I could go longer if I wanted to. As my start date approached, I must admit I was kind of dreading it because I was afraid I couldn’t keep that commitment to myself. Yet something told me to do it in December to help ground me during the busy-ness of the season. When I happened to mention it to my 25 year old niece in a text she asked if she could join me so that we could text each other every day to remind each other and motivate each other. I jumped on the idea! Suddenly, I felt like I could make this goal! I must be an obliger, too. I guess I won’t know if I would have made the goal without her but I sure like knowing we are sharing the goal!

    Keep on writing, Sue! I love reading your posts!


  2. nanciec13 says:

    I also need to be held accountable–lost 40 pounds that way!


  3. I really needed to read this just now.
    I am more of an obliger. I need a deadline and, while I can be self-motivated, I do better at certain tasks with someone OR something prodding me.
    I used to blog every day, and I think I was better for it. It wasn’t always a long, written post. Sometimes I few photos or quotes, but, that daily habit helped keep me focused.
    The step app on my cell phone has been a good “friend” for me. I tend to walk more and more often with it. My foot injury has hampered that, but, now that I’m more mobile, I’m finding myself checking it more often, and, ever-so-slowly right now, taking more and more steps again.
    Today, just before I sat down to check my favorite blogs, I set a timer, giving myself a goal to tackle some organizing tasks that have been nagging me.
    Thank you for this, Susan.


  4. I must be an obliger, too, although I can finish things on my own IF I give myself a firm deadline. No deadline, no progress. I think that November is absolutely the wrong month for NaNoWriMo. It’s Thanksgiving month, and everyone is gearing up for Christmas. One year, two friends and I decided to do our own version of NaNoWriMo in January. That worked out pretty well, and I got quite a bit done. Haven’t picked the novel up again since then though because I’ve been occupied with other projects that were closer to completion.
    However, if you’d like an accountability buddy for some month early next year, say February or March, I’d be happy to oblige. I might then be motivated to pick up my project again.


  5. Hi Susan,
    I’m an obliger too! And I’m thrilled that taking a class helped you work through THE ARTIST’S WAY. 🙂 Sorry I can’t participate in January, but I’m hoping you’ll find others who can.


  6. Pingback: Discipline for Reaching Goals | Women Making Strides

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