Accountability simply means taking ownership of our actions, or lack of actions. Easy, right? But, wait...If it is that simple, why is it so hard to do? Well, there is more to the definition, and that is where it gets a bit trickier. The second part of the definition is accepting whatever happens as a result of our choices (whether they are positive or negative). That tends to make us think twice about holding ourselves accountable.
It is much easier to not hold ourselves accountable. On the surface, not holding ourselves accountable seems like a good plan: 1) it keeps us out of trouble, 2) it helps prevent arguments, and 3) it can allow us an “escape route” when we decide we don’t want to do something any more. However, as the age old adage goes, easier is not always better.
So what does holding ourselves accountable look like? It looks like honesty with both ourselves and with others. This transforms into trustworthiness. Let’s face it...nobody really likes to be in trouble or to argue and fight. But, when we lie to avoid those uncomfortable consequences, we actually set ourselves up for a worse response in the future.
So, get it over with. Getting in trouble or having an argument is going to happen either way. It’s going to be unpleasant regardless of our decision. But, at least if we hold ourselves accountable, we show that we are able to be trusted...trusted to be truthful...trusted to make an effort to make better choices in the future...trusted to be a team player. Most importantly, we show we can be trusted to take responsibility for our actions and not blame others for our mistakes.
Finally, let’s talk about the “escape route.” How many times have we started something...a project, a workout program, a diet, a cleaning routine, etc.? How many times have we stopped working on them after only a couple of weeks and become frustrated with ourselves? That, once again, comes back to accountability. Sometimes we stop because it’s hard or because we aren’t seeing the progress or results we expected. Other times, life just came in and kicked over our perfectly lined up ducks. This is where accountability comes in.
Maybe, all of the above reasons are valid. But, if we hold ourselves accountable to what we started, we will eventually see both progress and success in the end. If we give up on whatever we are working on, we will never get any better. So, we need to hold ourselves accountable, re-evaluate our plan, come up with a new approach, and then start over again. We all know that building a new habit and staying accountable to it and to ourselves is tough. So, find yourself an accountability partner...a friend, family member, or even set reminders on your phone/tablet in order to help remind you, check in on you and your progress, and to help you stay accountable to your goals.
As one of our students said, “without accountability, there can be no success.” So, even though it’s tough to keep ourselves accountable, it is one of the most important steps to help us succeed in life.