Accountability has much to do with responsibility. Very rarely do we hold ourselves accountable for our own actions. Many times in our everyday lives, we go about our business hardly considering the implications of our actions and the people who are going to end up hurt by the things that we do. But all actions have consequences and a very large part of being responsible is knowing that all our actions cause ripples in the waters of our lives and destiny. And accountability is to be willing to accept all the possible implications of our choices and actions. So how accountable are you? Do you just do things without first considering the implications of all your actions? And most importantly, how can you hold yourself accountable? By the end of this article, we would have answered all these questions.
What is accountability?
To be accountable means to take full ownership, not only of the choices you make but also of the consequences thereof. Accountability connotes a sense of responsibility towards one’s actions and all the implications of such actions. Accountability demands maturity, it requires you to understand that your actions command consequences and that the effect of these consequences sometimes may not be limited to you alone. This understanding then causes you to not only make better decisions but also selfless ones.
Personal accountability means you accept the role you play in situations that happen around you. It means not looking to blame others for the blowback of your own choices, rather being the first to take responsibility for what happened.
Some Benefits of Personal Accountability
- Respect – Believe it or not, accountability breeds responsibility and everybody admires a responsible man/woman. When you are accountable, people generally tend to admire you and this admiration causes them to hold you in high esteem.
- Trust – Being accountable builds trust between you and the people in your circle. When people know you to be accountable, they will trust you because they know you will do your best and keep your word.
- Stronger relationships – As mentioned above, when you are accountable, people tend to trust, respect, and admire you and this positive report of you breeds stronger bonds between you and them.
- Makes you a leader – When you are accountable, people will always come to you with situations because of how much they trust and depend on you. Sooner than later you will find that an entire ecosystem of people who confidently lean on and look up to you has built itself around you.
How to Hold Yourself Accountable
Personal accountability is not some innate ability, rather it is a skill that must be learned and honed to maturity. You can do so by following these simple steps;
- Know exactly what you have to do
Before you can be accountable for anything first you must be clear on exactly what you are responsible for. So, you want to write down clearly what your responsibilities are, you can further classify them under daily, weekly, monthly, yearly classes, and so on. This will break down the responsibilities into clear, attainable targets.
- Write down your plans
“A goal without a plan is just a wish” – Antoine de Saint Exupéry. After writing down your clear, attainable goals, the next step is to write down complementing clear and actionable plans on how to achieve those goals. Further breaking down the plans to the simplest actionable units will go a long way to increase your chance of success when tackling them.
- Be committed
When you are committed to something (goal, person) it means you see it not just as something you can, but must do. When you are personally accountable, you see things you are responsible for as a duty, and you commit yourself to see them accomplished. I don’t know anything of real value on earth that can be achieved without commitment, the same goes for personal accountability.
- Admitting your weaknesses and limitations
You too are human with limitations and weaknesses exactly like everybody else. Don’t try to be anything else. If you want to be more accountable, you must be true to yourself first, be brutally honest with yourself. The more you are honest with yourself, the easier it is, to be honest with others. This means accepting your own limitations, asking for help when you need it, and giving credit where and to whom it is due.
- Saying sorry
Personal accountability cannot survive in an atmosphere of pride. Personal accountability requires you to not only admit your mistakes but also thoroughly apologize for your shortcomings. And this goes beyond saying sorry into actively making amends.
- Be organized
To become more accountable, you have to be able to organize your work. And a large part of that involves knowing exactly how much to handle at any given point. It means prioritizing, scheduling, and time-bound goals. So, before you agree to a new task, ask yourself if presently, there is space for it on your schedule. If yes, determine where it falls on your scale of preference. If no, say no.
- Time management
This has to do with how well we spend our time in relation to our productivity and effectiveness. Personal accountability requires effective and adequate use of time. This means doing away with all forms of procrastination which is a robber of time. Take a look at Eisenhower’s matrix to learn how to better manage your time.
- Do better
When things don’t exactly go as planned, as they do more oft than not, personal accountability warrants you to do better. This means asking for feedback, going over the events that occurred, uncovering where you made an error(s), and thinking about what you could have done differently and how to do better next time.
Personal accountability enables us to grow very fast. Because when you hold yourself accountable, you push yourself to fulfill the engagements you take. In trying to do so, we develop the courage to challenge our own limitations. Thereby, forcing us out of our comfort zones and facilitating our growth. But like I earlier said, personal accountability is not an innate ability, you have to choose it and work at it until it becomes a part of you. So I guess the first question you must answer is do you want to be accountable?