What does personal accountability mean? Why is it important? And what aspects of life does it serve? This article will explore what it means to be personally accountable, why it’s important, and how you can develop this highly valued and respected trait.
What is personal accountability?
Building accountability means a willingness to take ownership of your decisions, actions, and behaviors – the good and the bad. It requires an acceptance and understanding of personal responsibility and the self-assuredness to own up to your mistakes.
Personal accountability is necessary for business and your career, but this trait isn’t just important for work. It’s highly valued and respected in every aspect of life and is a marked sign of emotional maturity.
It’s not about blame, so don’t confuse personal accountability with taking on blame and responsibility that are not yours.
To be personally accountable means that when you make promises, you deliver on them. It means that when you make mistakes, you know how much of the same mistakes were your responsibility, and you own up to them. Moreover, it’s not just about owning up to your mistakes but it means taking responsibility in making an honest and ethical effort to correct them.
The benefits of developing personal accountability
Why do we need to be personally accountable? Do you have anything to gain from it? There are some benefits actually.
1. Increased chances of success
Personal accountability is a prerequisite for real success. Whether you want to succeed at work, save money, get fit, or achieve any other type of goal, personal accountability will help you get there.
If you can demonstrate personal accountability in your efforts to achieve your goals, you show others and yourself that you’re reliable. You learn not to blame external factors but instead take personal responsibility for all things within your control.
2. Better relationships
Taking personal accountability is a prerequisite for cultivating and maintaining healthy relationships. As mentioned, it’s a sign of emotional maturity, and no healthy relationship will involve a lack of emotional maturity, personal responsibility, and accountability.
Moreover, people sincerely appreciate personal accountability because it conveys a sense of trust and respect. Thus, being personally accountable can lead to more positive social interactions, which offers greater opportunities to meet new people and network effectively.
3. Improved self-esteem
The most important relationship we have in our personal life is with ourselves. From this self-relationship, we can foster and maintain healthy, loving, and compassionate relationships with others.
Personal accountability helps us achieve a healthy self-esteem because we witness ourselves as a reliable, focused, driven, and responsible person. The more you feel accountable, the more confident you become
The importance of personal accountability
“Accountability is the glue that bonds commitment to results.”Will Craig, Living the Hero’s Journey.
People respect and value those who are personally accountable, but the real value and what makes personal accountability important do not lie in the opinions of others. Its real, lasting value is most pronounced in your relationship with yourself.
We can also refer to personal accountability as self-accountability.
You’re accountable but not for the sake of success and praise at work or to keep a relationship afloat. Not for the sake of avoiding conflict or trouble – not for the sake of others at all. You’re accountable because you value an honest relationship with yourself.
We accept accountability for the promises and decisions we make to ourselves. Why? Because showing up for ourselves in this way not only improves our health but increases our happiness and overall well-being.
As mentioned earlier, when we make a decision or promise something to ourselves and then follow through, we boost our self-esteem. We prove to ourselves that we are responsible, accountable, and capable of personal success. On the flip side, when we make a self-promise but don’t follow through, our self-esteem and self-confidence might suffer.
Signs you need more personal accountability
No one is perfect. Even the most personally accountable and responsible people slip up from time to time. Still, what’s important in life is not to be perfect but to commit to keep trying to improve and grow in all of your endeavors.
The more you work on and develop personal accountability, the better you’ll get at it. The first step is recognizing how accountable you are right now and seeing if you can improve.
Some common signs that you need work on becoming more personally accountable include:
- Frequently breaking promises to yourself and others
- Placing blame on external factors for your shortcomings
- Waiting for life to happen rather than making it happen
How to be more accountable
1. Be honest with yourself
When setting a goal, making a decision, and making a promise to yourself, be honest about why you’re doing it. Understanding the true motivations behind your behaviors and actions will help you stay on track and will help you separate goals that will serve your well-being from the surface level, inauthentic pursuits.
For example, if you want to get fit, ask yourself why you want to get fit. Is it to achieve good physical health and live a long, happy life? Or is it to look good in front of other people? There’s nothing wrong with the latter, but it’s important to be aware.
When you understand your motivation, it’s easier to remind yourself of why you’re making your efforts and makes you more likely to get back on track if you slip up.
Being honest with yourself is crucial if you want to develop personal accountability because it means you’re aware of your weaknesses as much as your strengths. There’s no point in trying to be the best in everything and take on more than you can handle.
You don’t need to be the best, and you don’t need to bite off more than you can chew.
Conduct an honest evaluation of yourself, of your limits, and of the boundaries you need.
Understand that setting boundaries around your self-expectations and other’s expectations of you helps you focus on a few achievable and realistic personal and professional goals rather than a plethora of tasks and responsibilities that get in the way of attaining even one of those goals.
2. Own up to your mistakes
Taking responsibility is a hallmark sign of maturity and is a highly valued trait in all aspects of life. Of course, you shouldn’t take full responsibility for mistakes that are not yours, but it’s important to understand what is yours and be ok with being held accountable.
Many of us find ways to avoid responsibility by playing the blame game. We make excuses and find external factors to pin the mistakes on. In doing so, we deceive ourselves.
Some things may be outside of our control but when you’re radically honest with yourself and willing to own up when you’ve made a mistake, apologize when appropriate, and make amends for your wrongdoings. Eventually, you’ll realize that there are many elements of what happened that were in your control.
On the road to becoming more personally accountable, you may fail at times. Others may feel let down or disappointed now and again, and that’s ok. You may even disappoint yourself if you fall off the path.
Perhaps you stop going to the gym, or you keep smoking. Maybe you still haven’t started on the dream project, or you haven’t made other important changes in your personal life that you promised yourself and others you were going to do.
There is nothing wrong with failure; it’s key to success. Still, the worst type of failure is when you fall off the path, but you don’t get back on it.
As you become more personally accountable, learn to forgive yourself when you slip up. You may tend to be harsh on yourself and be overly self-critical, but this is not the path to a healthy or responsible life. ‘Forgiving yourself, not guilt increases personal accountability,’ explains American psychiatrist David D, Burns.
3. Be realistic
Be wise about the goals you set and the time you allow yourself to achieve them. For example, if your goal is to prioritize and maintain good health, you may decide to go to the gym, eat a nutritious diet, cut down on drinking, and give up smoking.
All of these behaviors promote health and happiness and are worth striving for. However, if you try to do everything at once, you’ll feel overwhelmed and exhausted.
You’re human, so don’t expect yourself to achieve your goals overnight and all at once. It’s much wiser to set smarter, more realistic goals. That way, you’re less likely to feel disappointed and damage your self-esteem because you tried to do everything at once and failed.
It’s easier to be personally accountable when you know what you want to achieve or need to do. If your goals and responsibilities are vague, then you may find yourself asking excuses and taking detours. As such, it’s wise to set SMART goals – goals that are:
By setting smart goals, you increase your chances of success.
Businesses and individuals alike use smart goals to give themselves a more realistic chance of actually achieving success. Even with the best intentions and the biggest ambitions, it’s hard to succeed without an effective plan.
SMART goals break up your goal and plan in a way that makes them easy to track and makes it far easier for you to be accountable at each step.
5. Keep track
Keep a notebook or journal nearby and write in it regularly. Use it to keep track of your to do list, responsibilities, your projects, your goals, and your responsibilities.
The more you get used to writing things down and revisiting those pages to check-in, the more accountable you’ll become. You’ll remind yourself regularly of what you want and need to do, and if nothing else, you’ll likely feel motivated by the rewarding sensation of completing written-down tasks.
6. Have a partner
Remember that you don’t need to go it alone on your journey to developing more personal accountability in your life. Yes, personal accountability comes down to your responsibilities, commitment, and work, but that doesn’t mean you need to be a lone wolf.
Having an accountability partner to track your progress, provide feedback, and remind you to keep going is a great way to increase this valuable life skill.
Don’t share your journey with everyone – some people won’t have your best interests at heart – but connect with close friends or trusted loved ones and let them know about your plans and goals. Again, they’re not responsible for your outcomes, but they can be there as a curious and encouraging source of care and support.
Many things in life are outside of our control. However, there are many things within our control: our ability to show up for ourselves and be accountable for our own lives.
If personal accountability is something you struggle with, don’t worry, It’s a skill, and just like other new skills, it’s something you can learn about, practice, and improve upon,
Hopefully, the tips outlined in this article will help you move forward on your journey to create the successful personal life you want, but don’t stop learning.
Look to people who inspire and impress you and learn from them. Speak to friends and family members who seem to have a healthy outlook and perspective in life and gather their opinions and advice on how to be personally accountable.