Why is accountability so important in creating new habits? That’s a fantastic question. I am not a psychologist. In my experience, as a habit coach for women and my own personal experience, accountability is crucial for creating new habits.
Did you know, if you are accountable, through a commitment to someone, your chance of success is up to 95 percent? Accountability is the most important factor in habit formation. Successful habit creation goes up when you share your success plan with friends, family, or your community.
Why Accountability Is Important
Back to the first question. Why accountability is important. What does accountability really mean? Society has conditioned us through technology to be isolated from social interactions to reinforce behaviors. Before you could “hide” in your phone and get small rewards based on your ability to crush candies you had to engage in conversations with actual people for feedback.
The Feedback Loop
Habits are on a feedback loop. This means that when you start a new habit it requires a cue, craving, response, and reward to be established (Atomic Habits, James Clear). The last two of the steps in creating a habit are response and reward. The response is the behavior you choose to do and the reward is the “good” feeling you get from making that choice. Where accountability comes in is at the reward stage of forming a new habit. Which reward sounds better? Saying “yay” to yourself or high fives with actual people? Let’s look at an example.
If you are trying to quit drinking soda. You make a commitment to yourself that you will only have one soda a week. This is a reasonable goal and you are motivated to do this. How will you successfully accomplish this? You make the decision yourself to do this but no one else knows. When you get a craving for a soda how do you talk yourself into saying no? When you are all alone in making hard choices nine times out of ten we pick the easiest answer. We give in. Why do we give in?
Why do we give in?
There are many psychological reasons why we do this. I’m going to tell you from experience. We are the ones who have to be uncomfortable. If you know the stovetop is hot will you purposefully put your hand on it knowing it will hurt? No. I hope not. This is what is going on in your brain when you crave a soda. It’s painful (uncomfortable) to say no to having a soda. So saying yes takes away the “discomfort” immediately. Now I’m not saying to purposefully put yourself in pain to accomplish your goals. What I am saying is it will be uncomfortable at times to move forward with a new habit. This is NORMAL. You are not weird or broken because it is hard to change your behavior. That’s great news!
This is where accountability is crucial and why accountability is important. When a task is uncomfortable it becomes easier to live with the discomfort when you know someone else is cheering for you! Think about this for just a minute. When you were learning to walk and you stood up then fell down. You stood up again even after falling. Your parents when they saw you take your first steps what did they do? Most likely they cheered and opened their arms for you to walk towards them. That is accountability in action. Your parents were cheering you on. They were giving you the courage you needed to keep walking even when you knew you could fall. That is accountability.
Find your accountability partner!
Now that you have an understanding of why accountability is important, what are some ways you can use accountability partners now? Earlier I said technology has taken away our accountability. Well, that isn’t totally true. We have to take responsibility for how much accountability we would like in our life. If I want to be successful I have to establish an accountability partner and follow through. That means picking the right accountability and multiple ones if necessary.
Here are a few ideas for accountability partners human and non-human.
- Social Media Groups
- Habit Apps
- Habit Coach
- Habit Tracker
In order for accountability partners to work, there must be a relationship established for feedback. You have to be okay with someone seeing and/or reading about what you are doing and giving feedback in support of your habit. People are easy as accountability partners because you have a relationship with them. Family and friends will often times give you feedback even when you don’t ask for it. This is helpful when they ask how you are doing unsolicited.
Social media groups, habit apps, habit coaches, and habit trackers require you to create how the relationship will go. It’s up to you to keep the relationship going. These options take more effort but many times have a more successful result. By establishing relationships (success partners) you can be more specific and get instant gratification with seeing your success right away. When you join social media groups where others are working on habits like you it creates a community of support. Having a habit coach gives you personal attention around what you are working on and is customized to your needs.
As a habit coach for women, I offer several success partner options. You can join my Women’s Accountability for Lasting Healthy Habits Facebook Group to get immediate support and encouragement from other ladies creating new habits. Another option is to download the Wraines Wellness Healthy Habits App. Not only is it a habits app but you get my feedback via messages while you work on your habits. Of course, I offer Habit Coaching for women via 1-on-1 coaching. If you aren’t sure what would be a good fit for you, schedule some time to chat with me and we can figure out what works best for you.