Self-imposed Accountability

Who Else Wants to Meet One’s Own Standards, Goals, and Expectations?

It was a Saturday morning, and the place was packed. Let alone on the weekend, this Starbucks in Alexandria is jammed even during weekdays.

Since I arrived early, I was sipping my coffee while checking emails on my phone.

I lifted my head and looked up when I heard my name called. In front of me was one of my clients. Dropping my phone on the table, I greeted Mary and invited her to take a chair.

Though Mary is always cheerful, that morning, she was exceptionally excited. After exchanging greetings and quick updates, she dove into sharing what she loves to see, hear, and do.

I nodded my head and listened attentively. Refraining from interrupting her and transitioning into the main reason we met, I gave her enough space.

After a while, I asked: “Out of curiosity, are there things you hate at all?

Leaning backward and sitting relaxed, she responded: “AZ, of course, there are!

From her facial expression and tonality, she was saying more than what she had just said. I could sense her saying: “You should have known better.” She was right. Just like everyone else, she is human. Obviously, we all have certain things we hate!

For 30 seconds or so, it was quiet.

To break the silence and continue the conversation, I interjected: “Do you mind sharing one of the things you hate the most?

This time, Mary leaned forward and looked down at the table. She must be thinking about some of the things she hates and choosing the top on her list.

She looked up, made stern eye contact with me, and with a subdued voice: “I hate disappointing myself!

Mary could see question marks all over my face. Why? I was surprised this made it to the top of the list. Besides, I’ve heard that most people, myself included, hate to disappoint others. This was the first time to hear someone hates disappointing herself more than anything else.

While I was still reflecting on what Mary had just said, she decided to help and clear all those question marks that popped up on my face.

Look, I know that we all hate to disappoint others. I do too. But I happened to hate disappointing myself the more.

Rather than answering my earlier concern, she magnified it. I didn’t say it aloud but thought for a second that it was a little selfish.

It looked like she read my mind. “AZ, don’t misunderstand me. I don’t want to disappoint others. I hate when I do so. However, this is about control. I don’t have much control when I disappoint others.

Nodding my head, I signaled for her to continue.

Think about this. Others may get disappointed for any given reason. Sometimes, it could be the way I look and sound. It could be because of my well-established beliefs and values, which I’m not interested in changing to appease others. Or, it could be as a result of my decisions and actions I’ve made by doing my homework.

What she said made sense to me. I wanted to hear more, so I stayed quiet.

However, I hate when I fail to meet my own standards, goals, and expectations. I had control but could not be in charge, and it infuriates me the most!

Agreeing with her frustration, I said: “I hear you. I relate with you…

I remembered some of my self-inflicted disappointments and wondered how Mary handles hers.

I’m interested to know how you handle your self-disappointments and make yourself self-accountable.

Mary shifted her position on her chair and sat relaxed. “First, I feel bad. In most cases, I don’t do anything major. I cut my loss, regroup, and fix it quickly. However, if the disappointment is huge, I reprimand myself. I don’t want it to happen again.

I rarely punish myself, and when I do, I barely succeed. “Mary, what kind of self-punishments are you talking about?

Her response surprised me.

AZ, I deprive myself of one or two things I love to do that week, such as going to the movie, eating my best-loved dish, drinking my favorite wine, and so on.

Does it work all the time?” I inquired.

Whenever necessary, I also recruit my husband as an accountability partner,” was her short answer.

Enough about Mary and me…

Let me ask you: “How do you make yourself accountable?

  1. How do you react and make course corrections when you fall short of meeting your standards, goals, and expectations?
  2. Is there any chance you may make yourself ACCOUNTABLE this weekend for a critical missed target in the past six days this week?

I’d be interested to hear if you make yourself accountable and the approaches you employ.