This post from a month ago generated some thoughtful criticism from a reader that I thought was valid and provided an opportunity for me to realize that my intent was not clearly stated. This post will try and clarify my intentions of that post.
Accountability software only works when a person cares enough to make an honest effort to change their behavior. We have a police force that acts as an accountability department , but people still commit crime. Usually they commit crime because of two reasons: they think they can get away with it, or they don’t care about the consequences. People don’t commit crime on accident, and that is basically how accountability software keeps us out of trouble, as well. The only way accountability fails is if you think you can get away with your poor behavior or if you don’t care about the consequences of your poor behavior.
If you think you can get away with it, two things are problematic,one, you’re not caring enough to actually make positive changes, and two, your accountability partner might not be keeping close enough tabs on your actions. For this reason, I have heard it suggested that spouses not be accountability partners as it puts an awful lot of pressure on a spouse. For some couples, it works, but for others, it only adds to the problem. So, I suggest you figure that out with your spouse ahead of time. (On a side note, regardless of whether or not you use your spouse as an accountability partner, I think you should come clean to them about your behavior problems if you haven’t already.)
If you don’t care about the consequences, then you’re putting your poor behavior above relations and it’s pretty easy to see the error there. If you’re not afraid of the consequences from a good accountability partner, you have made a pretty definite statement that you don’t value their relationship.
Its a two-way street to make accountability work, you have to value your relationship or at least have a good deal of respect for your accountability partner, and your accountability partner has to be strong enough emotionally and mentally to keep tabs on you and (figuratively!) bust your chops when they need busted. An accountability partner has to be strong, firm, and un-yielding. You have to be committed, honest, and trying. So, while an accountability partner is never the reason for poor behavior, he or she does play a large role in how useful accountability software is going to be.
If you’re ready to make changes in your life, if you’re fed up with trying to change your behaviors alone , then maybe it’s time you try accountability. Draw your line in the sand where someone else can see it, then if you cross it, make sure that person loves you enough to confront you about it, and you make sure you value their relationship enough to accept their correction. When these two circumstances line up and work in unison, amazing change will happen.