External accountability is holding yourself accountable to others in some way. It often involves a pre-negotiated reward – for example, a promotion, a pay rise, an award – which relies on us delivering a specific outcome.
While these tangible rewards are great motivators, there’s something even more powerful in helping us reach our goals – the validation, support and encouragement we receive from others. We want people to think well of us, to believe we will deliver on our promises, and so we hold ourselves to a higher standard of commitment. We also feel rewarded because we then know we’ve elevated ourselves in the eyes of another, on top of growing personally.
It’s this desire to make an impression on our peers that makes external accountability one of the most successful type of accountability. In fact, research shows, when you write down your goal and share it with someone close to you, your chances of success improve by 42%.
This is a great strategy, and we should use it to our advantage by involving family members, best friends, partners and colleagues in our goal-setting.
Personally, with my goal of projecting calmness, my confidants have also been a great support in providing candid feedback and gentle reminders. But even more importantly, they praise me when my energy levels are in the right place.