How can you be accountable for your actions?
Let’s have a conversation about accountability. What does it really mean to be accountable? Accountability is defined as an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility. Have you ever taken a step back to really take a look at your life? Are you happy where you are now? Is your dating life where you want it to be? Are you on the career path that’s fulfilling your needs? When I talk about being accountable, I’m referring to your ability to reflect on your actions and understand your role within those actions. You are exactly where you are today, due to the actions that you’ve taken.
These are a few quick tips to become more accountable that we can all take action on.
Don’t Make Excuses
When something goes wrong, accountable people don’t place the blame on others. There is no throwing people under the bus or dragging others down too. It’s a waste of time and energy to blame others, for factors that were most likely caused by your own misstep. Listen, stop making excuses and own up to your mistakes. Acknowledge where you went wrong and do what needs to be done in order for it not to happen again.
Stop Playing The Victim
I’m sure we’ve all done this once before. People who often play the victim are unable to manage their own anger. These people tend to project past traumas on their current situation. In order to stop playing the victim, you need to regain your power from your past trauma and deal with the process of healing. That process is far from easy. It will break you down and bring up emotions and events that may have been suppressed for years, but just know that the process is necessary for your growth.
“Yes this horrible event happened to me, but It no longer has power over me.”
Your Life Is Yours
It’s as simple as knowing that you are in control of your own life. You can’t expect different results by doing the same thing. This applies to relationships and even your career. You’re unhappy in your current role? Okay, well have you taken the necessary steps to obtain a role that better suits you? Listen, every action that you’ve taken up until today is the reason why you’re in your current situation. You can either have your own pity party or take responsibility for your actions and curate the life that you want. We are literally the authors of our own novel. How about writing a life that’s fulfilling your wants and needs?
Stop in your tracks and ask yourself, “How am I contributing to this problem?”
Instead of thinking that your current challenges are all about what someone else is doing or factors outside your control, accept that you’re 50% of this situation. What are you doing, thinking and saying that is sustaining this problem? How can you shift your behavior (and do something VERY different from what you normally do) to intervene in this chronic pattern of conflict? It’s been said that if you’re unhappy about a situation, you have only two choices: Change the situation, or change your feelings and thoughts about the situation. It’s time to change what is happening by recognizing your role in it.
Look at where you feel most hurt in life and get help to heal that
Take a long look this week at the deepest hurt you harbor inside. The hurt may be from your early childhood or from a traumatic event in your life that left you crushed that you have never healed from. Recognize how this hurt is playing out over and over again, and understand that you are what your childhood taught you to be unless you’ve healed and unlearned it. And remember, “wounded people wound people” so make sure that you are as healed and healthy as you can be.
The Consequences of Not Accepting Responsibility
Mother and son (12-13) working together in living room, boy holding instruction manual
Over time, failing to accept responsibility has severe consequences. First and foremost, it has a devastating effect on your own mind and heart. When you know you have failed to take responsibility for something that you should, it’ll begin to bother you, to eat at you, little by little. Pretty soon, you’ll feel very small inside.
That may sound like an exaggeration, but it’s the truth. As we discussed in the post titled How to Respect Yourself and Others, taking responsibility for your own actions makes life work better. Remember, self-respect is the worth or value you place on your own life. Therefore, one of the consequences of continuingly failing to accept personal responsibility is that you eventually guarantee that you’ll view your life as having little to no real value.
Being Accountable When Things Are Not Going Well
It’s helpful to deal with what is. It does not matter what should have happened – it matters what is. Focusing on seeing things as they are, especially when things are not going your way, saves you the trouble of figuring out who to blame or what to worry over next.
To help being more accountable when facing challenges, ask better questions which are focused driven:
- “How do I want to respond to what is happening right now?”
- “Do I have a story about what I committed to that is standing in my way of moving forward in my commitment? What is this story or excuse costing me?”
- “Is my mindset or psychology about this situation preventing me from moving forward?
- “What beliefs am I holding onto now, that are holding me back? What must I believe now to take action?”
- “Is my strategy or are my actions preventing me from getting the results I want? What new strategy do I need to take action on now to move forward?”
Responsibility is not something you do—it’s a way of thinking and being. When you’re truly responsible, you believe that success or failure is up to you, even if you work within a team or are blind-sided by unforeseen circumstances. You own your commitment to a result before the fact, before you even take action.
- Getting started:
Be responsible “either way.” It’s easy to claim responsibility when things go well, but it’s hard when they don’t. A truly responsible person, however, accepts responsibility either way. So next time you take on a project, be 100% responsible for the outcome. Not a little. Not somewhat. Not pretty much. Own it 100%—good or bad—with no wiggle room.
- Recognize your power. You already have the ability to be 100% responsible; everybody does. Yet most of us don’t realize—or at least don’t admit—that we alone have the power to manage our lives and careers. Sure, you can give that power away, but that is a conscious choice; it doesn’t happen without your permission.
- Deal with what is. Think about it: when was the last time you were able to change the past? It doesn’t matter what should have happened—it matters what is. That saves you the trouble of figuring out who’s to blame or worrying about how things “coulda woulda shoulda” been if only something had gone differently. It didn’t—and that makes your choice a cinch: “How do I want to react to the situation that is?”
There is only one kind of empowerment, and that is self-empowerment. Unlike granting authority, empowerment comes from within. By empowering yourself, you take the actions—and the risks—to achieve a result and get what you want. Rather than waiting for someone to declare you empowered or give you that one lucky break, you step outside your comfort zone, make things happen, and answer for the outcomes.
- Manage expectations. The most direct route to self-empowerment is to be clear about expectations—not only what you expect, but also what’s expected of you. To do that, you need to ask questions, make agreements, and clarify everything in writing. Otherwise, you risk suffering the source of all upset: missed expectations.
- Take back your time. “No” is an empowering word. So every time you utter, “I can’t say no,” ask yourself if you can’t—or if you’re unwilling to. Take back your time in other ways, too: get rid of your to-do list (track projects and deadlines on a calendar instead); resist over-scheduling (you can’t cram 12 hours of work into eight hours, so stop trying); and estimate times realistically (let’s face it, most tasks take longer than we think they will).
- Sing your own praises. It’s an all-too-common workplace mantra: “One day they’ll notice how much I do around here and give me the recognition I deserve.” NOT! Take stock of your personal talents and triumphs and let the higher-ups know who you are and how you contribute.
Unlike responsibility (the “before”) and self-empowerment (the “during”), personal accountability is the “after”. It’s a willingness to answer for the outcomes of your choices, actions, and behaviors. When you’re personally accountable, you stop assigning blame, “should-ing” on people, and making excuses. Instead, you take the fall when your choices cause problems.
- Tell the truth. Everybody messes up sometimes. Lying about it or trying to cover it up always makes it worse—no exceptions. (Just ask former President Bill Clinton, who paid a steep price—impeachment—for lying to a grand jury.) Save yourself some time: Don’t tell untruths. Nobody believes them anyway—not even you.
- Police yourself. Are you accountable for your actions even if nobody holds you accountable—or nobody catches you? You bet you are. So be your own “accountability cop” and police yourself. On the long and winding road of life, choose accountability at every turn.
- Look to yourself—first. When trouble arises, look first to yourself. Ask four specific questions: “What is the problem?” “What am I doing—or not doing—to contribute to the problem?” “What will I do differently to help solve the problem?” and “How will I be accountable for the result?”