Accountability: 5 Situations Where You Can Take Responsibility for Your Actions

We hear a lot of talk about accountability–it seems to be the new buzz word in the personal growth industry. What exactly does it mean?


In my coaching practice, I refer to myself as an accountability partner for my clients. Most people who seek out a life or business coach do so from a need to report to as well as obtain guidance direction, and ongoing encouragement from another person.

In my own life, I equate being accountable with being responsible for my actions. However, even more than that it means keeping my word, keeping my commitments.

It’s fairly easy to set goals, not as easy to plan action steps to reach those goals, and even more challenging to follow through on those steps. That’s where accountability comes in. Say we set a goal to lose 10 pounds. One action step is to exercise at least five days/week for 30 minutes. Suppose we have a busy week and we only exercise once. We get on the scale Monday morning and haven’t lost any weight.

If we start laying blame, such as saying it’s our boss’s fault for giving us too much work, or the weather was too bad for walking, we are not being accountable. That is, we are not taking responsibility for our actions. There may be circumstances beyond our control, but someone else with those same circumstances would have found a way to exercise. Someone else with the same goal took responsibility to do what was necessary to reach that goal. They found the time to exercise, and they didn’t blame anything or anyone. They were accountable.

It’s a rude awakening to realize only you can make anything happen in your life. Only you can make changes. Only you can take the necessary steps to reach your goals. Only you are responsible for your actions or non-actions. Only you are responsible for how you respond to what life throws at you. Yes, you had a busy week, yes, it rained all week, but that other person found a way to exercise. They were committed to their goal, and they held themselves accountable.

If you are having limited success reaching goals, you may look at your level of commitment, and from there your willingness to take responsibility for your actions, and to be accountable. One way to increase your accountability may be to have a buddy or a coach who will hold you accountable. If you knew you were getting on the phone every Thursday at 10:00 am with your coach, you would most likely take the action steps you said you would take. If you had an appointment with your personal trainer every Saturday at 9:00 am, you would fit your exercise into the rest of the week.

What are some areas of your life where you would like to be more accountable, or have someone hold you accountable?

Giving up an addiction.

If you want to stop an addiction, you can join a group such as AA, or have someone hold you accountable. Find someone else who wants to give up an addiction and check in with each other periodically.

Releasing a habit.

Bad habits may not be as serious as an addiction, but they can keep us from reaching our goals. Find a more appropriate action to replace the unwanted habit and keep practicing until you are no longer limited by that habit.

Sticking to a plan to reach goals.

Write out your step-by-step plan for your personal or professional goals. Set timelines by when you want to accomplish each step. Then set up suitable rewards to keep you accountable.

Mastering a skill.

If you want to learn to play the guitar, get a teacher and practice. If you don’t practice a new skill every day, there’s little chance of mastering it.

Changing your mindset.

This may be one of the most difficult of tasks to accomplish. Our minds have developed certain patterns of thought which may not be productive. To stay accountable to the goal of changing your mindset, you must be a constant observer of your thoughts, then your words, then your actions. They must all be congruent in accomplishing your goals.

Whatever you want in your life takes some level of commitment and action. If you decide you want something enough, then be accountable for your thoughts, words, and actions. Your goals will then be more attainable.

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