Should You Pay for Accountability?

Should You Pay for Accountability?

For most of 2022, and all of 2023, my husband and I had a goal to clean out our garage.

It was a part of my yearly goals for two years in a row. I picked at things here and there, and I did re-home a handful of items, but mostly, our garage sat there looking as it always didleaf-filled, chaotic, hard-to-navigateand I got really good at writing "clean out garage" in my PowerSheets® goal planner month after month, with no progress in sight.

Until September 8, 2023, when a professional organizer arrived at my house at 8:30am sharp. Within three hours, our garage was cleared of what we didn't need and neatly organized with what we did need. And friends, it is amazing. It's clean, with not a stray leaf in sight! Our bikes can be wheeled straight in and out! Things are sorted into labeled bins! We gave away what we no longer need! Almost half of the floor space is completely empty! (!!)

Needless to say, I am incredibly thrilled with the end result. But the process to get there? That was more challenging. Because although I knew I needed help, it took me a long time to be okay with asking for it (and, importantly, paying for it).

After all, I thought, I *should* be able to do this on my own. I've successfully organized many spaces in my home! I'm generally a tidy and intelligent person! Our garage isn't that bad. Do I really need someone to "babysit" me for something I should be able to do without help? I work for a goal-planning company, for goodness' sake?! Isn't the idea of hiring a professional a little... embarrassing? 

And to be sure, I COULD have done it without the help. It is entirely possible. But the fact is that in a year and a half, my husband and I never made the time to do it. We let the very real challenges of finding a time when two working parents with three little kids could be together and focus on a physical task for several hours stall and stall and stall our project. It mattered to us—we wanted our space to be a launching pad for our young and active family to spend time outside—but in this instance, a strong why was not enough to move us to action.

We needed a grand gesture. For us, this was spending our hard-earned money to hire a professional organizer.

Laptop screen with a Cultivate What Matters course

For J.K. Rowling, it was checking into a luxurious hotel suite near Edinburgh Castle to finish writing the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series. As Cal Newport writes in his book Deep Work, "Rowling’s decision ... is an example of a curious but effective strategy in the world of deep work: the grand gesture. The concept is simple: By leveraging a radical change to your normal environment, coupled perhaps with a significant investment of effort or money, all dedicated toward supporting a deep work task, you increase the perceived importance of the task. This boost in importance reduces your mind’s instinct to procrastinate and delivers an injection of motivation and energy.”

Our task was much easier and came with much less pressure than finishing the final book in a blockbuster and beloved series. But in its own way, our grand gesture of hiring an organizer helped us muster the energy and overcome the inertia to complete an intimidating goal, and kept us going when we would otherwise have bowed out.

Once we had hired the organizer, the rest of the steps became easier, and almost inevitable:

  • We both cleared our schedules and took time off from work.
  • We showed up on the designated day, ready to make decisions.
  • We didn't quit halfway through, but kept at it until the job was done.

And now, we have a completely-organized garage that facilitates the kind of family life we value. It is an utter delight.

Do I still feel somewhat embarrassed that we needed to hire someone to get this done? To tell you the truth, yes. Do I wish that I didn't have to pay money to make this happen? Yes. But ultimately, I am SO glad to have this goal in the past and to be in the present, enjoying our space and what matters most.

Perhaps you've felt the same way—or maybe you're feeling it now. I shouldn't need PowerSheets to set goals, you say. Why would I pay for Goal School Premium? you say. I can hold myself accountable, I can track my goals, I can figure this out on my own.

You're right, you capable, creative, intelligent, wonderful Cultivator. YOU CAN. You don't need PowerSheets or Goal School Premium to live a cultivated life and achieve goals that really matter to you. 

But if you've found yourself not doing the things you want to do

If you find you forget about your goals (goals that really do matter to you!) after just a few weeks

If you haven't seen the progress you'd hoped for

If you need a grand gesture of your own, a bold commitment to yourself and the life you dream of

—then maybe there's something for you in the 2024 PowerSheets Collection. Whether your next best step is trying a goal planner for the first time (or trying again even though you've failed in the past!), planning your days in a purposeful agenda, or coming alongside an amazing community of women who want to make what matters happen in Goal School Premium, we would be honored to be your accountability and help you make what matters happen in the year ahead.

We'd love to hear: have you had a positive experience with paying for accountability? How did it go? Leave us a note in the comments!

1 comment

Hi Emily. Yes, I have gladly paid for a professional organizer to help me finish something I could have done on my own, but just didn’t get done on my own. But I think that framing that decision as “paying for accountability” has a whiff of self-judgment to it. The book The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal is brilliant on this subject.


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Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is Cultivate What Matters' Content Strategist and Writer. With over a decade at Cultivate, Emily loves helping women uncover what matters, set good goals, and live them out with joy. Her free time is spent with her high-school-sweetheart husband and three young kiddos.

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