Being accountable can benefit all areas of your life, from work to fitness to your relationships and happiness. It's not just about taking ownership of the moments where you could have performed better but also celebrating those times when you can proudly say, "Yeah, you know what? I absolutely smashed that goal!"
To help you have more of those moments, we interviewed a range of experts from business, financial, and fitness backgrounds. Each agrees that accountability can be a fantastic catalyst for self-improvement and empowerment. However, they also emphasise that you shouldn't dwell on it if things don't go according to plan.
After all, nobody said the journey to achieving your fullest potential would be without setbacks.
The good news is that you can discover the determination and resilience needed to overcome any hurdle by focusing on accountability.
What Does Accountability Mean?
"Accountability means taking responsibility for one's choices, behaviours, and the overall direction of one's life," says business coach Moses Nalocca. "It involves recognising personal values, setting goals, and actively working towards them,".
But it isn't just about holding yourself responsible. Accountability also lets others know you're reliable – something that's important in all areas of life.
"Accountability makes you reliable by highlighting your goals and effectively enforcing you to best your past self," adds business podcast host Natalie Arabella.
Whether to ourselves or others, put simply, accountability is doing what we said we would do.
Why Does Being Accountable Matter?
Accountability has the potential to help you perform better at work and home and build healthier and happier relationships with those around you. In fact, one study found that accountability and trust are inextricably linked, each promoting the other.
In another, children who were encouraged to take responsibility for their actions had more positive social interactions, highlighting the long-lasting impact of accountability on personal growth and overall well-being.
"Accountability implies being aware of the impact of one's actions, accepting responsibility, and taking appropriate measures to rectify or improve situations as needed," says Nalocca. "It is an essential aspect of personal growth and maintaining integrity in life."
Accountability can be fuel too. Want to achieve a life goal or a business goal? Nothing motivates you like setting a timeline and sharing goals with a friend. "Accountability is something we all need," says Arabella. "It inspires action. Telling someone your goals and checking in with them at agreed times to check on progress is like your Mum checking you've done your homework. Accountability is the difference between mediocre and marvellous; it's what will make you stand out from the crowd and achieve the best success."
What If Being Accountable Doesn't Go To Plan?
At this point, you might feel pretty inspired but slightly nervous. Doesn't being accountable mean you have to own all of your mistakes, too? Well, yes. But here's a secret, everybody makes mistakes. Mistakes are just a by-product of trying to achieve your goals. So face them head-on.
"Being kind applies to you, too," says Arabella. "You cannot give 100% all the time. It isn't physically possible." What matters is that you learn from your mistakes and use them to keep you on track next time.
For example, if your goals are related to fitness, it's essential not to be too hard on yourself if you can't quite meet them. "Let's not beat ourselves up if we can't do something and focus on making it happen next time," suggests yoga teacher Elodie Gythiel.
And if you find yourself reverting to the same patterns on multiple occasions – it might be time to review your overall commitment to your goals. This, of course, is also being accountable, so don't be afraid of reevaluating from time to time.
How Can I Make Myself More Accountable?
There are many ways to make yourself more accountable. Now, here's the thing: not all the tips below will work for you, and that's okay. The key is to find the ones that align with your specific goals and try to implement them each day.
Consistency is key. Even small steps taken consistently can lead to remarkable progress. So, let's dive in and discover the accountability hacks that work best for you.
According to Nalocca, awareness is the crucial first step in making changes, "We have to take stock of ourselves, and if we need to, ask for help in achieving our goals, not because we are 'weak', but because we are strong and want to go further and faster." By acknowledging areas needing improvement and being open to support, we commit to personal growth and breaking through our limitations.
When we're honest with ourselves, it keeps us focused on our goals. And when we're honest with others, it sets clear expectations and lets them know when things veer off track. It's all about open communication, giving people a heads-up, and showing them how we plan to fix any hiccups along the way. Honesty builds trust and helps us stay accountable to ourselves and others.
Accountability often requires confronting uncomfortable truths and facing potential setbacks. Nalocca agrees, "Have the courage to act, get your hands in the mud, and do the work." By being brave in our pursuit of accountability, we demonstrate a willingness to grow, learn, and ultimately achieve greater success.
Set Goals With A Deadline
"These can be either 'achievable' or slightly out of reach (to help make you work that little harder)," says Arabella. "Having a deadline gives you more drive to make the right choices with your actions in the run-up to the end date."
Using a tool like the Balance Planner will allow you to visualise goals and deadlines and, importantly, remind you to acknowledge your achievements and reward yourself when you hit a goal. This will help you keep "accountable and focused", Arabella says.
Don't over-commit yourself by trying to do it all. It's simply impossible to juggle every task and responsibility. It's essential to prioritise and find a healthy balance in managing your time effectively. Remember, taking care of yourself and meeting your commitments should go hand in hand.
Arabella suggests taking the time to contemplate the significance of what you're striving for. Consider the emotional impact of achieving and not achieving your goals and reflect on the joy and fulfilment that success will bring and the potential regret and disappointment if you fall short. Regularly checking in on these aspects strengthen your sense of accountability and keeps you motivated.
Make it a point to set up regular check-in dates to keep yourself accountable. If you're working towards a goal with a friend, these check-ins will be even more effective for both of you. Remember, having that support system and sharing your journey with others can help you stay on track and achieve your goals. So, mark those check-in dates in your planner and keep that accountability game strong.
Rewarding yourself is crucial in maintaining accountability. It reinforces positive behaviour and motivates you to stay committed. “Acknowledge the small successes, then repeat the process,” says Nalocca. “Enjoy the process. Let yourself enjoy being held accountable,” adds Arabella.
By acknowledging your efforts and accomplishments, you create a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction, boosting self-confidence. These rewards are reminders of progress, making the journey towards accountability more enjoyable and sustainable.
Being accountable can help you reach the next level in work, health, home life and happiness. It can be tricky, but the best things are. If you find yourself not quite keeping to your goals, the very act of noticing is being accountable, so don’t sweat it. Just make a plan for next time. With the few simple hacks above, you can revolutionise your accountability, and from there, the sky is the limit.