Accountability Tactics: How to Make Yourself Just Do It


I’m going to start running again. In fact, I’m going to run three days a week, starting now. There — I’ve said it.

You have now witnessed me using my most powerful accountability tactic. When I want to do something that’s pretty big and there’s a really good chance I might try to wiggle my way out of doing it, I start to tell people about it.

I really need to get more cardio in my life, and after a few months of dilly-dallying over what kind of cardio activity I should pursue, I have settled on running. It’s something I can do on my own time, I don’t have to pay for classes, I can do it when I travel, and it’s good for both me and my dog. But, getting into running for the first time since having two children is, shall we say, daunting.

So, I’m making you, my lovely blog readers, my accountability partners for this one.

How embarrassing would it be if I were to post this blog and then not actually start running? You are all expecting me to do this. So, I have to do it.

I love this accountability tactic because it works. I often make use of it way before I know how I’m going to accomplish something, what resources I’m going to need, and whether or not I’m actually capable of doing the thing I’m saying I’m going to do. But we all have extraordinary capacities when properly motivated.

I used this accountability tactic when I decided I wanted to launch Tide Risers. I had no idea how this was going to come together, whether I had time for it, who would be involved, or even what it would be called. But I started telling people I was going to do it, and then I really had to.

The simplicity of this accountability tactic is one of its most appealing characteristics. There are, however, a couple of requirements to make this methodology effective:

1. You must include a timeframe, and tell people the timeframe.

In the running example, I am telling you now that I am going to start this week. With Tide Risers, I told everyone the program would start in January 2017, and in doing so, I backed myself into a timeline for getting it done.

2. You must not allow the naysayers to sway you.

Solicit feedback from people who are reliable thought-partners and cheerleaders, but don’t listen to the people who try to tell you it’s not possible. Even better, avoid engaging with them about your idea altogether if you can.

3. This must be something you have a burning desire to really do.

If you’re waffling, now may not the time to apply this tactic. If you need help deciding whether you should start something or not, see my blog post on decision-making from May 2, 2017.

I am proud that one of the many benefits of being a member of Tide Risers is that it gives you a built-in accountability crew. Our monthly UnstickHer sessions give us a check-point throughout the year that we can use to measure our progress and move out of whatever loop is keeping us stuck in one place. We can use our fellow members as accountability partners within a safe and supportive environment.

In less than six months, I have seen Tide Risers members lean on this community to hold them accountable to launch new businesses and impactful fundraising projects, leave jobs that weren’t serving them, and even pursue things they’ve been dreaming about doing for a decade or more. One particularly inspiring example comes to mind of a Tide Riser who quit her job to pursue an MFA in writing — something she'd been dreaming about doing for years.

So, what are you currently wishing you could do or move forward with? Is there a project you’ve been dreaming of starting up? Whether you want to write a book, run for public office, or launch a new venture, maybe all you need to do is tell someone about it to help make your vision a reality. 

Share your accountability tactics — or your plan — with us on Instagram via #wearetiderisers and @wearetiderisers.