Why accountability sometimes doesn’t work

Accountability is a common practice in business networking and self-development circles.

Accountability partners meet or talk regularly to keep each other on track to the commitments they’ve made.

The principle is a sound one. When we make commitments to do or avoid to do something, and we speak them aloud to other people, we are much more likely to see it through.

There’s science to accountability. It’s built on the human need to be seen as trustworthy and reliable. If we tell someone we’re going to do something, and we don’t do it, that erodes our reliability factor. Over time, this comes at great cost. It is not good for us to be seen as unreliable or untrustworthy.

But sometimes accountability doesn’t work.

Sometimes even when we say we are going to do something, and we commit to it, and we speak our commitments aloud to an accountability partner, we still don’t do it.

Why accountability doesn’t work

As far as I can see, the common factor when accountability doesn’t work is that, deep down, you don’t love yourself, and so worrying if other people think badly of you seems like an absurd thing.

If you don’t love yourself, you expect other people to think badly of you anyway. It is a big leap to see them thinking well of you. That leap is too big when you don’t love yourself.

If you don’t love yourself today, you won’t be able to have an optimistic view about tomorrow. And so, because the harm that comes from others finding you untrustworthy or unreliable doesn’t seem real or important to avoid, you don’t battle against it. In fact, you expect it. You expect it, because when you don’t love yourself, you find it absurd to think that others would ever find you reliable or trustworthy.

If you don’t love yourself, you can never really believe that others would think you worthy of love. It is not a big step to think that you are, in fact, unlovable.

So the first step to everything, the foundation of a happy life, is to love yourself.

If that’s the foundation, what are the materials that make up the foundation?

Perhaps the first step is to acknowledge that we are perfect beings of spirit and energy and light.

To tell ourselves nothing like you or me has ever existed in the history of humanity, and will never exist again after this sliver of time that we are here.

The spirit and energy and light in each of us adds up to love. We are not just capable of love. The most true version of each of us is that we are love.

If we can find that love in ourselves — because it is there, we just have to find it — then we can love ourselves.

And then we are much more likely to do the things we say we will do, when we say we will do them.