One of the hardest things you’ll do in life is overcome a bad habit. The key to overcoming bad habits or bad character is self accountability. If a person isn’t held accountable, there is little motivation to change. And a person accountable is a responsible person. Therefore, a responsible person is always viewed as a mature person.
Why We Don’t Change Our Bad Habits
We live in a society that wants to hold everyone else and everything else accountable for all the bad things that happen to us. If we spill coffee on ourselves, we want to sue someone. If we stupidly attempt to dry off the cat in a microwave, we want to sue the microwave company for the resulting mess and emotional trauma. We want others to take the blame for our own stupidity, clumsiness, ignorance, and irresponsibility.
This has given rise to a generation that seeks no self accountability. We don’t want to answer for our own actions. We want to be told that it is someone else’s fault. This is incredibly detrimental to the development of our own character and the forming of good habits.
Until one is both willing to be held accountable for one’s own actions and willing to allow someone to hold them accountable, the struggle to overcome bad habits and lousy character becomes a thousand times more difficult.
You Must Be Held Accountable
Being held accountable makes you aware of the consequences of your own actions in ways that can’t be justified or rationalized away. It is one thing for a private in the army to convince himself that his habit or character is no big deal, but it is another to convince the sergeant. The sergeant will hold the private accountable. This is great motivation to change.
Without self accountability, we all too often accept our own justifications as to why we can’t change or why we will do so at a later — always later — time. We attempt to turn over a new leaf only to flip it back over within a couple of weeks. We make New Year’s resolutions that we discover take more effort, time, and devotion than we originally believed.
Self accountability, however, means you have to face someone and suffer consequences-of some sort-for your lack of character. This accountability then begins to make you responsible for your actions and the result of those actions. This in turn brings maturity and good character.
Maturity is nothing more than taking responsibility for your responsibilities. We all have responsibilities, but unless you can become responsible for them, you will too often rationalize why you can’t or justify why you won’t. This keeps you pinned down under your own weight. It now becomes much more difficult to overcome bad habits and bad character.
THOUGHTS ON HOW TO BECOME SELF ACCOUNTABLE
#1 — Find someone you can answer to.
The reason why many programs — both faith-based and secular — work is because people are held accountable for their actions. This is very much a biblical principle. Accountability to God is one of the great motivators in life. Be willing to admit you need someone to be accountable toward.
#2 — There needs to be consequences for falling back into bad habits or bad character.
Without consequences, there will be less reason to do what ought to be done. When children have no consequences for their actions, they grow up spoiled and demanding. They never mature. Maturity realizes there are always consequences to one’s actions.
#3 — The goal is to form good habits.
Someone once said that good character is the habit of doing right. Do something right long enough and it becomes a habit. Good habits will always be seen as good character.
When I was in college, there was a fellow that struggled getting up on time. He was very much like many of us — he just kept hitting the snooze button. In order to break this habit, he asked his roommate (who had good character in this area) to dump a glass of cold water in his face if he didn’t get up the first time the alarm went off. Just the fear of that cold glass of water got him up every time, all the time, until it became a habit. Soon he not only didn’t need his roommate — or the glass of water — he didn’t even need the alarm clock. His body got so used to getting up at a certain time that he just woke up on time all by himself.
Self accountability produced good habits which in turn produced good character. This matured him and made him more responsible. It all started, however, with accountability.
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