Successful entrepreneurs swear by it. Business execs insist on it. Weight Watchers has built their brand around it. Accountability is the number one tool used by people to be successful at whatever they’re working toward. Basically, accountability means being responsible for your actions.
Accountability doesn’t work only in business; it’s the best tool I’ve used for years to help my clients be successful at losing weight and getting in shape. It’s the number one reason why personal trainers (as well as gym buddies) are so effective at getting their clients and friends fit. It plays the most important role in making successful and permanent life changes. Why does it work? Here are the four reasons:
1. Accountability tricks your brain into believing that your weight loss and workouts are really important. Your brain naturally assumes that if you’ve taken the step to have to answer to someone about it, it must be really important. So it makes it a priority.
2. When you are accountable to someone else, they’re going to give you opinions about everything that you do. Whether it’s your food choices, your workout exercises or the times that you go to sleep. They’ll feel responsible for you and your success and will push you to get back on track and stay there.
3. Studies show that we’re wired to seek approval from others because we grow up with accountability in our families, our society, and in the classroom. When we seek someone to be accountable to it intrinsically feels comfortable, like we’ve been doing it our entire lives. And by appointing someone to that position, we become responsible for our actions and try to do our best to keep those who are watching over us happy.
4. Even though we’re not teens anymore, peer pressure still affects us. Most of us still want approval from our friends, and we’ll do anything to make our friends proud. We’ll skip the second helping of meatloaf or make sure to do the extra mile on the treadmill because our accountability partner is watching and judging.
How do you choose someone to be accountable to? Look around your circle. It should be someone who cares about you, like your mom, your friend, your sister or brother. Or you can hire someone to help you. Personal trainers are skilled at keeping their clients accountable, as are life coaches and groups like Overeaters Anonymous or Weight Watchers. Even your group fitness instructor can help keep you accountable to your workouts.
Don’t have an actual person who can help you? Health and fitness apps do a great job of keeping you honest. They give you real-time advice, feedback and keep you forthright about your workouts and what you eat. If you don’t have a smartphone or just prefer pen and paper, food and exercise logs can work really well. The simple act of writing down what you eat and drink every day, as well as logging your workouts, will help you be mindful of your goals by keeping you honest about your daily habits and patterns.