The Accountability Mechanism

Amar Pandit , CFA , CFP

Amar Pandit

A respected entrepreneur with 25+ years of Experience, Amar Pandit is the Founder of several companies that are making a Happy difference in the lives of people. He is currently the Founder of Happyness Factory, a world-class online investment & goal-based financial planning platform through which he aims to help every Indian family save and invest wisely. He is very passionate about spreading financial literacy and is the author of 4 bestselling books (+ 2 more to release in 2020), 8 Sketch Books, Board Game and 700 + columns.

While I am working on my 6th book (this time the subject is Crypto), I am also writing a book with several other US Financial Advisors on the work that Real Financial Professionals do. The title of the book is “To Be Decided”, and I will share more on this in due course.

A brilliant idea that one of the financial professionals came up with is the following – “Give a check (cheque in India) of $5000 to XYZ. If we don’t deliver on the book by 03/15/2022, XYZ can bank the check and do whatever he wishes. If we deliver, XYZ will tear the check.”

What do you think this is?

I call this an Accountability Mechanism or an Accountability Contract.

The contract is supposed to cause a certain level of Pain if we do not do what we say we are going to do. In this case, we will experience 2 types of pain. One of not having finished the book and the second is that of paying $5000.

What do you think is likely to happen on 15th March 2022? We hope that XYZ tears the check because we will deliver the book.

Fingers crossed. Nope. We are not leaving this to chance. We are going to make this happen.

The pain of not finishing the book and paying $ 5000 is too much.

Think about this now.

What if we had to pay $50? Well, not much pain financially but the pain of not delivering the book remains.

What about $ 50000? Besides the psychological pain that we would feel as real professionals, the financial pain is significant.

What am I doing writing this here?

I am making a public announcement and a social commitment of delivering this book. In the 1st week of April, you are likely to ask me “Where is this book?”

This is another form of accountability that I have introduced by promising to do something publicly. This means that if I don’t end up showing this Proof of Work, I will not only have let myself down but to every reader of this post.

Am I going to feel this pain? Yes, because my word means something but on top of that if I add a financial penalty, the pain is likely to be much more.

This can be done practically in every area of Life. Think Weight Loss (My favourite).

Imagine giving your instructor Rs.2000 for every day, you miss your workout and Rs.2000 again every day for not writing down what you ate and WhatsApping him. My fitness instructor would certainly have become a millionaire by now.

However, if I had seriously implemented this, I would truly have not missed out on too many occasions. I am going to start this soon. Look at how vague I am as I write this. I still don’t want to commit to a date for this. This is not a clear Accountability Contract.

Ok, I will give my trainer Rs.2000 every day that I miss working out and an additional Rs.2000 for not recording what I eat. I promise that I will send this to him so he can start collecting the fines or Maybe Not. This is likely to force me to do the things I have promised I will do.

James Clear, the Author of “Atomic Habits”, calls this an Inversion of the 4th Law of Behaviour Change – “Make it immediately unsatisfying”. He adds “Just like we are more likely to repeat an experience when the ending is satisfying, we are also more likely to avoid an experience when the ending is painful. Pain is an effective teacher. If a failure is painful, it gets fixed. If it is relatively painless, it gets ignored.

When it is relatively painless, it truly gets ignored. While it’s true for the entire human race, I see the perfect application of this in our industry and profession.

We ignore things that we should be doing.
We ignore things that need to be fixed.

  1. Are there things that you have told yourself that you will do but not Done?
  2. What is it that you wish you had done or want to do but haven’t been able to do?

Answer this honestly.

To stop ignoring the things you should be doing, Make it Painful for you.

You can start this by paying us a Painful amount for any Commitment that you wish to keep. I assure you that you will either feel the pain or get the job done. We have actually implemented the concept of an Accountability Coach who will hold you accountable to the promises that you have made yourself. Yes, this is a service that we provide for a very reasonable fee* (* = offered selectively).

By the way, we are not your only choice (though we are the best one ☺). You can also pay anyone you do not like or someone you even like.

While paying someone is great and my preferred option, you can also implement this by having an informal arrangement with your colleague or friend from the industry.

You might be ok to let yourself down but are you ok to let others down?

If you are like most, you are not likely to be ok to let others down but fine to let yourself down.

This is where the Accountability Mechanism/Contract kicks in.

It gets the job done. I assure you will be able to do things you have been wanting to do. It works for everyone, and it will work for all of us too.