Make Failure Suck — The Silver Bullet of Accountability

Louis Shulman
4 min readAug 14, 2019
Morning Run “Accountability Photos”
Morning Run “Accountability Photos”

If you’ve dipped your toes into the self-development rabbit hole before, you know that the pursuit of productivity, personal goals, and improvement has baggage. Silly 30 day challenges, cold showers, blaring alarms at odd hours, fidgety meditations, and failed experiments dominate your existence.

For the past two years, I’ve been waist deep in that very hole — sampling all of the above and then some.

In that time, I’ve consumed a lot of the ‘literature’ surrounding habit formation, motivation, building systems, and achieving goals.

I’ve tried a lot of tactics.

I’ve downloaded a lot of apps.

I’ve read a bunch of books.

Some stuff works, most doesn’t.

What’s emerged as my most enduring and reliable tool?


In the context of goal setting, accountability is the practice of devising specific and meaningful consequences for NOT reaching your goals.

In brief: make failure suck.

It’s that simple.

Reaching goals shouldn’t be complicated.

We are often more motivated by avoiding loss than we are by chasing victory. Instead of being victims to our psychology, we can spin loss aversion as a silver bullet for conquering important goals.

Self-discipline is fantastic. Breaking through pain thresholds internally is extremely admirable, but in many circumstances, there is no reason to make things that hard.

Purposeful accountability paves an easier path.

When to Use Accountability — The Brink of Failure

Inflection points are specific moments when short term desires and long term goals collide.

Inflection points are the battleground where goals are either conquered or abandoned.

Inflection Point: Your alarm goes off an hour earlier than usual so you can meditate and cook a healthy breakfast. It’s fatigue versus commitment. Fatigue wins at 5 am.

Louis Shulman

Insatiably Curious | Growth at Pomp Crypto Jobs | Computer Science alum from Roll Tide