A reason why people often fail to achieve their goals is a lack of accountability. Unless you’re someone with endless willpower, most people don’t have enough discipline to keep working towards a goal.
What is accountability? It’s a feeling of obligation to finish a task because you don’t want to let down a colleague or friend. If your friend plans to go to the gym with you on Saturday, they’re holding you accountable for turning up. So, this motivates you to hit the gym on that day, because you’ve become accountable for someone else as well in this case.
Ever notice that you’re more likely to get work done at a busy coffee shop or office where you see other people working too? This is a form of indirect accountability, where we work because of the fear of being judged as lazy or unproductive by others.
Even the most dedicated sports people will have their coaches to answer to, and this is what keeps them going. For regular people, we don’t have the luxury of coaches showing us the way, so we need different strategies.
Using Technology to Help Keep You Accountable
Apps are one of my favorite solutions for accountability. Friends are family are great, but sometimes it’s hard to sync your schedules and interests together. Apps give you this flexibility.
The basic logic behind accountability apps is that you will be ‘punished’ or ‘rewarded’ by something you value if you don’t get something done. This could be money, annoying alarms, or even an electric shock!
My 3 go to accountability apps are:
Beeminder helps you stick to your goals by taking away money if you don’t stick to them. It determines your success or failure by syncing with other apps like Fitbit. With Beeminder, you set your targets and deadlines. Then you have to set aside a certain amount of money that you could lose if you don’t stick to your goal.
Pavlok is a wristband that gives you small electrical shocks if you relapse into a bad habit. So, if you eat that whole can of Pringles, you’re going to get a little shock on your wrist. Pavlok works great for me because I hate electric shocks, but if you’re indifferent to them, it may not work!
You can set the wristband to shock by manually setting yourself or let someone else control it.
StickK is a very comprehensive accountability app, and is one of the more popular ones. Like Beeminder, it also works by setting monetary incentives. You define exactly what you want to achieve (e.g. how many hours of exercise?) and you select the stakes.
You don’t HAVE to set money aside, but most users do. StickK apparently has over $30 million circulating in the app!