Self-accountability is an absolute requirement to succeed in sports, business, and life.
It doesn’t matter if you are a CrossFit athlete, a business professional, or a performing artist, if you do not hold yourself accountable you won’t get very far.
In this article, we’ll explore what self-accountability is, why it’s crucial for success, and provide you with ten practical strategies on how to hold yourself accountable.
What Is Self-Accountability?
Self-accountability is the personal commitment and ability to take ownership of your actions, decisions, and outcomes.
You hold yourself responsible for your behavior, choices, and the results you achieve.
In simple terms, self-accountability means it’s up to you and only you.
The opposite of self-accountability is blaming others and making excuses for failure.
When unexpected challenges happen, being accountable means you will focus on a solution without pointing fingers.
Accountability is closely related to self-discipline because it demands an honest relationship with yourself combined with a strong work ethic.
Humility helps because the urge to avoid the guilt of failure by shifting the blame elsewhere is strong. Being able to sit with those negative emotions and take appropriate action will be of far greater benefit.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of what goes into self-accountability:
Responsibility: Self-accountability means recognizing that you are in control of your choices and actions. You understand that your decisions have consequences, and you willingly accept the responsibility for those consequences.
Ownership: It’s about acknowledging that your success or failure is primarily determined by your efforts and decisions. You don’t blame external factors, circumstances, or other people for your outcomes.
Proactive Approach: Self-accountable individuals take a proactive approach to their goals and commitments. They don’t wait for external pressure or consequences to motivate them; they intrinsically motivate themselves to follow through on their intentions.
Integrity: Self-accountability is closely tied to personal integrity. It means aligning your actions with your values and principles. When you say you’ll do something, you follow through.
Let me illustrate with a personal example, that I’m honestly not too happy with.
I had this work project that needed numerous tasks completed. I got a concussion that affected my focus for well over a month. Then I got sick and that illness slowed me down. And then I had a deadline for filming a course on psychological flexibility that took many hours to create and 3 solid days to film. All of these were valid reasons for me falling behind and only getting about 65% of the tasks done over the last 3 months.
Now if I just focus on that, my ego is protected and I forgive myself, and I move on not really learning anything from the experience.
But as this just happened and I decided to write an article on self-accountability, I realized I could have done better. While my reasons for falling short were valid, I was using them as excuses.
The work that needed to get done didn’t. And the consequences of missing those deadlines happened despite my good reasons for missing them.
So how could I have improved my self-accountability (and results) in this situation?
I needed to take on a greater sense of responsibility.
I could not control the concussion and illness symptoms. What I could control were the behaviors that would promote healing.
Might I have experienced less disability if I optimized my healing with ideal sleep, nutrition and hydration, avoiding screens, etc. all to a greater degree than I did?
Don’t get me wrong, I did those things for sure. But I know I could have done them better with a greater sense of responsibility and intensity.
I have to hold myself accountable to that. I played a role in not maximizing my healing process.
Greater self-accountability would also include a greater sense of ownership.
The outcomes are important to me and while I have a team, the desired outcome is for me alone. They are fulfilling their responsibilities. It is up to me to fulfill mine.
A proactive approach would also have enhanced my self-accountability.
I knew the course was coming. So the time crunch could have been better managed a month ahead with me creating a greater sense of urgency and getting ahead of it.
And finally, my motivation to be more proactive could have been enhanced by tapping into my sense of integrity, which is a strong motivator for me.
There was a general expectation of how many tasks per week I would complete. If I made that weekly commitment more specific and gave my word each week, I would have been better inspired to keep it.
I make this commitment to you now (and I have made it to others), I am implementing what I am writing in this article today (and am already seeing greater progress).
Why Is Self-Accountability Important?
Self-accountability is where success starts.
It represents an unwavering commitment to recognizing that your future is shaped by your own choices and actions.
You do not depend on or blame anyone else because your success is up to you.
Way too often people depend on others for their motivation and direction; or blame others when they don’t get the support they desire.
I’m not against coaching and working with others, of course. I just want to be sure that you know you are ultimately responsible for your results.
And while others can make getting your results difficult (e.g., a bad call in a game, a coworker not completing their assignment on time and holding you up), you don’t want to throw your hands up and say it’s their fault (even if it is).
That takes away from your influence over your own outcomes. You become distracted by what they are doing to the detriment of your own focus on what you can control.
The significance of self-accountability becomes obvious when you pursue your dreams.
High achievers will set ambitious goals, whether it be winning a sport championship, driving a business to new heights, or crafting a masterpiece on stage.
Self-accountability is the driving force behind the consistent effort required to make these dreams a reality. When individuals take full ownership of their progress, they become more motivated to invest the necessary effort and time into achieving their goals.
Self-accountability is important to develop consistency, that firm commitment to a course of action for success.
Self-accountable individuals show a remarkable ability to stick to routines and follow through on commitments, ensuring that they make small but steady progress each day.
It is when the inevitable unforeseen challenges and setbacks show up that self-accountability is most useful.
Individuals who embrace self-accountability will adapt to changing circumstances. They don’t waste time dwelling on adversity.
Instead, they switch to a problem-solving mindset so that goals can still be achieved while embracing the difficulty that goes along with it.
Trust is also linked with self-accountability. By consistently delivering on promises and taking responsibility for their actions, self-accountable individuals become reliable and dependable.
In sports teams, business partnerships, and family dynamics, this trust is invaluable as it fosters connection and collaboration.
There is no personal growth without self-accountability. When individuals wholeheartedly admit their mistakes and failures, they transform these experiences into opportunities for learning and self-improvement.
Self-accountability is a major part of the growth mindset. This continuous commitment to becoming better versions of themselves characterize high achievers.
Developing self-accountability is important as it is closely related to internal motivation.
Those who practice self-accountability aren’t just driven by external rewards or pressures; they possess an enduring internal desire to excel. Since external motivators come and go, this kind of self-motivation is more resilient and reliable.
In leadership roles, whether as captains of sports teams, CEOs of corporations, or heads of households, self-accountable individuals set a powerful example.
Their firm commitment to taking ownership and responsibility inspires those around them. It creates a culture of accountability and excellence, propelling entire teams, organizations, and families towards success.
In summary, self-accountability is much more than a skill to acquire. It is an important and powerful attitude that empowers ordinary individuals to achieve extraordinary results.
It enables them to seize control of their actions, work diligently toward their goals, adapt to adversity, build trust, and enhance personal growth.
So how do we build self-accountability? Read on …
10 Strategies to Improve Your Self-Accountability
The first and most important strategy is to realize that none of the following suggestions will magically make you more accountable to yourself or anyone else.
If you are looking for something to make this easy, you will always struggle because comfort is not part of the process.
So pay attention to your level of willingness to work at this.
Once this emotional foundation is established, these other nine strategies will become more effective.
1. Be sure your goals are clear and specific.
When you don’t really define your outcomes, it is very difficult to measure whether you accomplish them or not.
Instead of saying, “I want to get better at my sport,” specify, “I want to improve my sprint time by 10% within six months.”
Notice how you can specifically measure your progress with a sprint time versus a general sense of getting better. Be sure to set a deadline to add a sense of urgency and prevent procrastination.
2. Create a Written Plan
It’s just an idea until you write it down.
Divide your goals into smaller, manageable steps to make them less overwhelming and more achievable.
Determine which actions are most critical to your success and focus on those first. Then set aside time to review your plan and assess your progress.
Adjust your strategy as needed to stay on track.
3. Embrace Feedback
Constructive criticism is not a reflection of your worth but an opportunity to improve.
Seek regular feedback in your training or work processes from coaches, mentors and peers.
Regularly assess your performance and make the adjustments necessary through self-reflection.
Ask yourself questions like, “What went well today?” and “What could I have done better?”
Technology can be a valuable source of feedback to hold yourself to specific performance standards when utilizing fitness apps, productivity tools, financial software or time tracking tools.
4. Develop a Routine
Routines provide structure and discipline for the consistency that characterizes self-accountability.
Your mind likes efficiency and when routines are established it takes less energy to execute them over time, improving the consistency of your production.
5. Stay Organized
Disorganization can lead to procrastination and distract you from your goals.
Declutter your physical and digital workspaces.
Create daily or weekly to-do lists to prioritize tasks and stay organized.
Checking off completed items provides a sense of accomplishment. Use visual tools like goal-tracking charts to visually represent your progress. This too can be highly motivating.
6. Time Management
Effective time management is a critical aspect of self-accountability.
Identify your most important tasks and tackle them first. This prevents less important tasks from derailing your day.
Dedicate specific time blocks for different activities. This ensures you protect enough time for high-priority tasks.
Avoid multitasking as it often reduces productivity.
Focus on one task at a time to maintain accountability.
7. Find an Accountability Partner
Having someone to share your goals with and hold you accountable can provide a great boost to your progress.
An accountability partner offers mutual support. You both commit to your respective goals and check in on each other’s progress.
Schedule regular check-ins or meetings to discuss progress, challenges, and adjustments to your plans.
8. Reflect and Adjust
Regularly reviewing your progress is essential for self-accountability. Celebrate your success, no matter how small. Positive reinforcement boosts motivation.
When you face setbacks, view them as learning opportunities. Analyze what went wrong and adjust your approach accordingly. Be flexible in your approach. If you find that a particular strategy isn’t working, pivot and try something new.
10. Practice Self-Compassion
Be kind to yourself throughout the process, it will enhance your performance.
Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a friend facing challenges.
Rather than beat yourself up for failures, make room for them to learn and grow.
Remember, one setback or mistake doesn’t define your entire journey. Stay focused on your long-term goals and be willing to experience the ups and downs that go along with it.
Self-accountability is a skill that can be developed and strengthened over time. You now have the information you need to improve your self-accountability. Developing these skills is a process that, as you read above, I too continue to work at!
This is why I created the Success Stories Community. The same fear, doubt, insecurity and inconsistency that is holding you back has gotten in my way too!
But there is a way through it. And you don’t have to do it alone. Develop the mindset and physical discipline needed to succeed with the support of our Success Stories Community here.