Sometimes I think accountability is crucial to getting things done. When I was a college student minoring in Poetry, my homework was to submit a new poem every week to workshop. The workshops held me accountable to submitting poems on time and my classmates' feedback encouraged me to keep writing quality work. While homework can be tedious, we can easily get it done when other people's time is at stake. In a similar vein, at Code Academy, friends learn to code together but can't get to the next class level until everyone completes their homework. It's crazy how productive we are when other people are involved!
Yet I've also experienced times when accountability sucked the joy out of goals, making me less productive. In elementary school, I really wanted to play the piano. Within a year, my parents' overzealous accountability of my practice schedule made me quit playing altogether, because it was just wasn't fun anymore. (Later, I got really into the violin, so all ended up well with me and music.)
Accountability can also put a strain on relationships. My friend Emily who was raised in Nashville has said, "In the South, there is a fine line between accountability and judgement." I think this can be true anywhere--we can so quickly feel judged if we aren't meeting expectations. Accountability can sound like criticism too, i.e. if our friends are warning us to stay away from our exes, but we fail every time, even if we agree. (Honestly, who hasn't been there? ;)
(Photos: Frida Kahlo with self-portrait, film star Lauren Bacall & daughter, and Clint Eastwood)