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The Dirty A-Word: Accountability

Have you ever been frustrated by not achieving your goals? It doesn’t really matter what the goal itself was. Perhaps it was [another] weight loss target, or putting in some extra hours on a hobby. We’ve all had that moment where it just fell apart. 

It sucks.

Today I want to talk about the number one reason than this happens. It’s not going to be some quick fix that anyone can sell you, it’s not a book, or some slick goal-setting method. Nope, it’s just good old fashioned accountability.

Don’t expect to be motivated every day to get out there and make things happen. You won’t be. Don’t count on motivation. Count on Discipline.


This is a solo episode, so there’s not some in-depth discussion with an expert. But I wanted to leave everyone with a few thoughts about the importance of accountability and how e can regain it in our lives.

I attribute a lot of our problems to three main factors:

  • Cultural acceptance, and even promotion, of weakness
  • Short-term thinking
  • Normalcy bias

Poor Culture

I despise the modern trend of “body positivity.” 

What started as a noble cause to help reduce mental anguish over body image has morphed into something entirely different. It’s now the vehicle for promotion and celebration of obesity, gluttony, and weakness.

That sounds harsh. I get it. But it’s true.

Not only that, but this mindset is also actively shaming people who want to get healthier. This is simply an unacceptable state of cultural affairs. And while it seems mainly relegated to women, men are not immune from its effects.

One of the other problems in our modern culture is the so-called war against “toxic masculinity.” This isn’t a blog or podcast about feminism and my feelings on it, but I’ll simply state that our culture has shifted to treating boys as if they are defective girls. And that means we’re no longer teaching them to be men.

I thought this was well-characterized by a 2016 study on grip strength (linked above). In it, college-aged males scored an average grip strength of 98 lbs.

That’s down from a 117-124 lbs in 1985. 98 lbs is roughly equivalent to the grip strength of 38-year-old women.

Grip strength is a relative corollary to other health and strength factors, so the fact that it’s decreasing so much should be alarming to any nation relying on its men to fight wars and keep people safe.

This is unacceptable, and it’s one of the root causes of why we are utterly to hold one another accountable any more. 

Short-Term Thinking

TL;DR is no longer a witty saying on forums. I remember the first time I saw it used as a way to tell someone else to be less wordy. But then I started seeing it on social media when I would make a three-paragraph argument against gun control- and the other person simply said they wouldn’t read it because it was too long.

We’ve become Twitterized. Our collective attention spans are too short to hold a complex discussion, much less think about what might happen to us in 5, 10, or 20 years.

The problem is that things without immediate consequences fall to the wayside. 

That means it’s easy to skip workouts, eat an extra meal of junk food, or fail to follow through on a practice session. Without consequence, there’s no pain. It’s only after we finally reach that point 10 years from now when we’re diagnosed with some preventable lifestyle disease do we look back and think, “You know…I could have done something about that years ago.”

But that gets to the third problem.

Normalcy Bias

Normalcy bias is the tendency for people to assume that because things worked just fine before, that they will continue doing so. In a disaster situation, about 70% of people will continue going about their lives as normal because they cannot accept that something is going terribly wrong. About another 10%-15% will panic.

The remaining percentage, the prepared, will have to deal with everyone else’s ineptitude. But normalcy bias doesn’t just apply to disasters. It applies to our own lives, as well. 

It’s easy to think that “I’ve gotten away with this so far, so it’s probably fine.” But you can only do that until you can’t. The trouble is that you don’t get to choose the moment to be called into action. To survive. To prevail.

The moment chooses you.

Putting off your workouts because it’s easier only works right up until you find yourself in an unexpected life-or-death situation, and that’s not the moment you want to find out you weren’t strong enough to survive.

Fixing It

Discipline is great, but it’s not enough by itself. As humans, we need accountability. We need a tribe, a team, or at least one other person to make us stick to our word. Not everyone has that.

So here’s what I propose: find a tribe. Maybe that’s here within the community of The Everyday Marksman, or maybe it’s something else. It doesn’t matter where it is, but you need to find it. 

Share your goals, and ask that others hold you to them. In turn, you should hold others to their goals. Together, everyone will succeed.

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Matt is the primary author and owner of The Everyday Marksman. He's a former military officer turned professional tech sector trainer. He's a lifelong learner, passionate outdoorsman, and steadfast supporter of firearms culture.

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Wow, no comments on this one. And I find myself agreeing with you, despite my lone wolf tendencies.

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