Fill Your Cup with Accountability - 3 Ways to Hold Yourself More Accountable


We all talk about being “more accountable,” but what exactly is “accountability?”  Being accountable is literally, “all in your head,” and something we all can control on a very personal basis. The Psychology Dictionary, a professional reference guide, tells us that accountability is actually “the degree to which someone is responsible for actions, verdicts, decisions, and more.”  What this means is that we are totally in charge of how accountable we decide to be.  So, we must rely on ourselves to be 100% accountable in everything we do.

Accountability is a mindset that says you will own and take full responsibility for your decisions, your actions, and your results – good bad, or ugly.  It’s about not playing the blame game or carrying yourself as a victim, but understanding that you can rise above your circumstances and demonstrate the ownership you need to achieve the results you want. 

Recently, I spied a coffee mug on a colleague’s desk that proclaimed three essentials of accountability.  Focus on these three aspects of accountability and you’ll see how simple it really can be to be fully accountable in every aspect of your life.

1 - No Excuses: Never say: “I can’t.” Be confident in saying “I can,” by promising yourself that “I will” stick to a schedule and manage responsibilities.

2 - No Drama:  Everyone can hit a roadblock along their path to success.  But handle the setbacks with grace.  Apologize, take ownership of the problem and find a resolution.  In other words – be totally accountable for failure as well as success.

3 - No Complaints:  You’ve made your to-do list, scheduled priorities and have accepted accountability for getting everything done.  Whining about how busy you are, or about colleagues and vendors, won’t get any items checked off your list. As the famous athletic wear company says: “Just do it!”




There are hundreds of apps that profess to help us be “accountable.” A few types include:

Financial – help you keep within your budget by tracking your expenditures.

Fitness – motivate you to keep moving with goals, reminders and achievements.

Time – Lets you create and monitor an hourly, daily or weekly schedule with notifications when you’re running behind.

Some apps give you positive reinforcement along the way, with affirmations and congratulatory messages.  Others provide negative incentives such as emailing a supervisor when you’re not making a quota or even requiring payment to friends or associates when you’re off track. 

While apps can be helpful, accountability is more than good time management.  What’s most important is to embrace accountability as a personal guiding principle and belief. There is a difference between responsibility and accountability. Responsibilities are what’s on your to do list; accountability is staying on track to accomplish all those tasks.

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For those who are tasked with managing others, there is another layer to accountability. According to a recent article posted on the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) website, there are several tried and true steps for ensuring accountability of others:

●      Set and communicate clear expectations.

●      Align individual and team goals with strategies and vision.

●      Provide time, training, tools, and resources.

●      Empower people to succeed.

●      Provide recognition and feedback.

●      Take action when individuals and teams do not meet expectations.

There’s a certain fear in accountability, because it makes us vulnerable. You can overcome these fears by gaining clarity and owning your responsibilities. Observe each situation and know both your capabilities and where you need to develop. 

Be aware of these five common pitfalls as you commit to becoming 100% accountable:

1.     Delegating ownership to someone else to avoid being held responsible for its success or failure.

2.     Avoiding the real issues by glossing over the facts to disguise your own responsibility.

3.     Focusing on minor or “other” less important things to sidestep accountability on the main aspect.

4.     Pointing out your past track record instead of your current achievements.

5.     Claiming that you are not being treated fairly when you don’t achieve your objectives.


Now that you know what accountability is, if you want to grow in the area of accountability you should commit to these simple things:

●      Own your behaviors and results, self-reflect often and look for improvement opportunities

●      Make good choices, but don’t let fear of a wrong decision paralyze you

●      Be accountable to yourself and honest to yourself through the lenses of self-awareness

●      Be accountable to your team and don’t let politics or fear of hurt feelings stop progress and growth

Accountability often comes from learning from your mistakes and doing things differently the next time.  Accountability isn’t easy, it takes practice, day in and day out, but it is rewarding.  Being accountable makes you more certain and more comfortable in the decisions you make which helps push past fear in any situation and move forward.

Accountability is one of eight principles featured in my book, Fearless Living: 8 Life-Changing Values for Breakthrough Success. Sign up today for the 8 Fearless Values Movement and start on your personal journey to the life you choose.