It feels good to bask in the credit when everything seems to be going well. But what happens when things go wrong? Are you as quick to own your mistakes and mishaps, or do you try and evade responsibility and shift the blame?
People who take responsibility for their errors garner more respect from their peers than those who don’t take responsibility. Those who accept responsibility for their own actions are also more inclined to feel they have control over their lives.
This article will discuss what it means to be accountable and the benefits of this. We will also provide five tips on holding yourself more accountable.
What does it mean to be accountable?
I’m sure we have all had that colleague who is quick to claim merit for their positive work but tries to evade any responsibility when things don’t go quite so well.
Personal accountability means accepting responsibility for our actions. It means doing the exercises prescribed by a physiotherapist and following through with the action plan prescribed by a business coach. There are many ways we can be accountable throughout the day.
Someone I know wriggles around with excuses as to why she can’t dedicate more time to keeping fit and healthy. It’s always someone else’s fault. If she took a bit of accountability and said, “I’m not willing to do what is needed to achieve the fitness I need,” that would be honest and accountable.
Accountable people usually have good self-discipline and effectively learn from their mistakes.
The benefits of being accountable
Accountability is a significant part of your sense of well-being.
In this study from 2022, authors suggest that accountability is a virtue that has a significant yet unexamined impact on our psychiatry. They suggest that “awareness of accountability is intrinsic to mental health and human flourishing.”
Accountability is also positively correlated with the following:
- Personal confidence.
- Positive relationships.
- Greater sense of control of life.
- Fewer excuses.
- Effective problem-solving skills
- Ability to apologize.
People who are accountable present as honest, open, and trustworthy. These positive traits help them build relationships in the workplace and in their personal lives.
When we hold ourselves to account, we project ourselves as transparent, capable, and ethical. And this is the sort of people others want to work with or spend their spare time with.
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5 ways to hold yourself accountable
If you are ready to live as complete a life as possible, it’s time to cut out the BS. You must hold yourself accountable and take full responsibility for your actions to do this.
Here are our top five ways to hold yourself accountable.
1. Honesty is the best policy
When I first joined the Police Force many years ago, my tutor said to me, “If you do something wrong, don’t try to fix it or hide it; come to me immediately.” This sentence has always stuck with me.
The more we try to wangle out of something with lies and deceit, the deeper we entangle ourselves.
Don’t try to cover something up.
I once stupidly got the date wrong for a client on one of my running tours. I received a phone call asking where I was while the poor client was waiting for me to take her on a running tour of the city. I could have made up several excuses, but they were all lies. I admitted to my diary error and apologized profusely. Needless to say, she got her money back and a complimentary tour at a time of her choosing.
Things are rarely as bad as they seem, especially if we own up to our mistakes immediately and deal with them; they are less likely to cause any issues.
People who openly admit to their screw-ups are assertive, strong, and reliable.
2. Avoid blame
Unfortunately, blame is human nature. This study from 2019 tells us that people readily shift the blame from themselves onto other people.
But when we live in blame mode, it is pretty exhausting for other people, and let’s be honest, it’s not much fun spending time with people who are quick to blame.
I was recently in a car with someone driving too closely to the cars in front. It was dangerous! I instinctively slammed on my metaphorical brakes several times before suggesting the driver ease back a little. My suggestion didn’t go down well, “shhh, you are making me drive badly.” So according to my friend, I was the reason they were driving so close to the car ahead.
I understand it’s hard to receive criticism. But if we want to hold ourselves accountable, we must recognize what actions we are responsible for and not burden others with our responsibilities.
3. Buddy up
Having an accountability partner is a great way to keep you following through with your goals. It’s easy to cheat on our exercise plan or diet if we think no one will find out. But ultimately, the only person we are letting down is ourselves.
I have several accountability partners in my life, some unofficial. They keep me owning my actions. Here are some examples of my accountability buddies:
- My running coach knows if I miss a session, this keeps me on track.
- My writing buddy encourages me to show up each day and get words on paper.
- My personal mirror is my partner; he is good at giving me perspective.
- My authenticity protector is a true friend who will challenge me if I stray far from my vibe.
Find yourself some accountability buddies, and be prepared to hear some truths.
4. Create goals and set out your journey
It’s easy to drift around in life and not set down hard and fast goals. This person may say they want to lose weight, but they don’t give themselves a target weight loss by a set date. Without specific goals, our desires have no roots, so they don’t take hold.
Ideas without any specifics are meaningless.
When we set goals, we suddenly need to figure out how to achieve them. There is no room for drifting and hoping we can achieve our goals on fluke alone. Setting goals helps us determine what action to take to achieve them.
When you create goals, make they are both realistic and achievable.
Instead of saying, “I want to run a marathon one day,” change this to identifying a specific race and figuring out what time you want to run the race in. Then create a plan as to what training you need to do to achieve this and who may be able to help you accomplish this goal.
5. Reflect and grow
Reflection is an essential part of growth. You can do this in your mind at the end of the day or after a project. Or, ideally, write down your reflections.
You can consider these points if you are thinking of something in particular.
- What went well?
- What didn’t go so well?
- What did I do that was constructive?
- What could I have improved on?
There is no need to focus on anyone else here. It’s all about the role you played. You will likely become more accountable if you are honest with yourself during these reflective moments.
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You are responsible for your actions, and by owning this, you become accountable. Accountable people benefit from greater self-efficacy and a heightened sense of well-being. So what are you waiting for?
Here’s a reminder of our five tips for holding yourself accountable.
- Honesty is the best policy.
- Avoid blame.
- Buddy up.
- Create goals and set out your journey.
- Reflect and grow.
Is there anything you do to hold yourself accountable? I'd live to hear from you in the comments below!