How can I stay accountable? Mastering accountability will help you to stay on top of deadlines, reach your goals and truly value your word.
What Is Accountability?
Think about all of the times you’ve made a decision, a choice or even a promise to yourself.
Maybe you’ve decided to take the stairs up to your office all week or to get to the gym on Monday morning. How many times have you gotten to the point of implementing the new habit or behavior change, and simply thought, “eh, not today”.
It’s that situation where we may lack accountability, not motivation or willpower, but accountability to see that practice through.
Being accountable means sticking to your commitments, having full transparency with yourself (i.e. being honest!), and keeping the promise you made to yourself. It means getting yourself out of bed at 5:45 am or walking up 5 flights of stairs with your work bag and lunch in hand simply because you made that promise to yourself.
Accountability is the act of being held responsible. It’s being answerable for actions or decisions you have made. It’s an essential, valuable trait to have for so many parts of your life. From work environments to relationships and behavior change, accountability has a hand in it all.
Despite its importance, accountability is something that many of us struggle with daily.
Why Is Accountability Important?
When we know exactly what to do, how to do it and when to do it, but it still just isn’t working, accountability is the last piece of the puzzle that will get you to the finish line.
Think of accountability as your follow-through, your ability to stick to your word. We can talk all day long about our big plans and intentions, but what is it all worth if we never actually make it happen?
Staying accountable means walking the walk.
How To Stay Accountable
So, now that we know how important staying accountable is, how do we actually do it?
Accountability is twofold. We first and foremost want to stay accountable to ourselves. When no one is around to see you or acknowledge your actions, accountability is the little push that gets you out of bed when you’re cozy and craving that bit of extra sleep.
But sometimes being accountable means staying accountable to others. It’s a combination of the two that has been proven to allow you to stay accountable throughout your life and reach the goals you set for yourself (1).
How To Stay Accountable To Yourself
Let’s start by getting that little voice in your head to start motivating you to stay accountable.
1. Write It All Down
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again — write down your goals! Whether you’re a fan of planners and calendars or would rather a journal, writing down your goals has been proven time and time again to increase your chances of success.
More specifically, recent research has shown that we’re about 40 percent more likely to succeed if our goals are written down (2). Who doesn’t want an extra 40 percent chance of success!
When recording your goals and ambitions for accountability, be specific and be realistic. If this is your first go at maintaining an exercise schedule, starting off by committing to seven days per week of intense exercise probably isn’t the best way to proceed. Start slowly and build your way up!
Additionally, if you’re going to exercise, what kind of exercise are you going to do? Is there a specific class you’ll take? If so, what time does the class start? The more specific you are, the clearer the message is and the easier it is to adhere to.
Tangibly seeing your goals in front of you makes them real and concrete, undoubtedly increase your chances of remaining accountable.
2. Take It Step By Step
Let’s say you’ve always wanted to meal prep your meals but you just never seem to follow-through with your plans. Not only should you write down your goal of meal prepping, but also map out a schedule for when and how it will take place.
Take the time to create a schedule when you’re motivated and have decided to implement the new habit, behavior change or goal. This takes care of all of the heavy liftings ahead of time. That way, when it comes time to actually start the meal prepping, you already know what you have to do and when to start.
Be specific with your schedule; what day will the meal planning take place? Do you need to set a reminder so you don’t get sidetracked and forget? Know yourself and acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses. The more thought you put into the activity ahead of time, the more accountable you’ll be in the present moment.
3. Be Honest With Yourself
As cliché as it may sound, honesty truly is the best policy.
It’s easy to make excuses and rationalize your choices when you’re simply talking to yourself in your own head. Yet when things don’t go as planned or if you find yourself in a situation where you weren’t able to stay accountable, be honest with yourself.
Use that time to determine what went wrong, why you didn’t stay accountable and what you can do differently next time. We’re human, we all make mistakes. We just want to be sure to learn from them and move forward rather than repeat them and standstill.
4. Seek Out The Knowledge You Require
In order to stay accountable and stick to your decisions, you need to have the proper knowledge. Whatever the subject may be, educate yourself so you know how to properly apply yourself.
Educating yourself may involve doing some research on your own, but oftentimes your best bet is to work with a professional you can trust. Always seek out a credentialed, trustworthy individual within the given field.
For example, if you’re looking for guidance with meal planning or nutrition, always seek out a registered dietitian rather than someone who is unqualified and lacking credentials.
Working with a professional can also give you an extra layer of accountability, which we’ll discuss next.
How To Stay Accountable To Others
Research has shown that in order for us to truly remain accountable, we often need the support of others.
1. Talk About Your Goals
Whether it’s a professional you’re working with, your best friend, significant other or maybe even a workout buddy at the gym – talk to them about your goals! The more we verbalize and discuss our plans, the more responsible we feel for accomplishing them.
The next time you’re making a lifestyle change, add a new step to your daily routine or sett a new goal for yourself, tell someone else about it. Once again, be as specific as possible! Tell them that you’re going to the gym at 6:00 am on Friday or that you’re trying to budget $50 per week to save up for that special trip.
By both verbalizing and writing down our goals we feel compelled to remain accountable and see it through to the end.
One of the main reasons we offer our monthly membership is to support you and others with accountability! Check it out if you haven’t already.
2. Be Honest With Others
Once you tell someone you’re going to do something, isn’t it difficult to tell them that you didn’t actually follow through with it when they ask? This is one of the reasons why talking about your goals with others is so important for accountability.
We also need to make sure that we’re honest. When things don’t quite go the way you had hoped and a friend asks why you didn’t follow through, always, always tell the truth. Be honest with them. If you were simply feeling unmotivated – say that! The more you acknowledge your weaknesses and weak points, the more likely you are to address them moving forward and prevent the situation from repeating itself.
It can be difficult, but sometimes it takes setting your ego aside to reach a state of complete accountability.
Connect With Us!
I would love to hear about your experiences with accountability. Is there anything I mentioned that you’re already doing? Is there something you’re doing that I didn’t discuss?
The more tips we can compile, the better! I’m sure someone else reading this article would love to hear what works for you. As always, you can connect with us outside of the website on Instagram via @nutritionstrippederica, @nutritionstripped, #nutritionstripped, and #nswellnesscoaching.