4 steps to accountability 

We often know what we should do, but to actually follow through and do what we say we will do and doing it are very different. Accountability is making your wants and shoulds a must – As Tony Robbins states, “People 'should' all over themselves”. Being accountable requires planning, action, willpower and overall raising our standards and holding ourselves to these new standards, consistently. Here are four steps to how we achieve that: 


1. See it 

A precursor to this is to have clarity and know exactly what the outcome you want is. Be clear about what it is you are working towards so you can set a course to get there. Going deeper on this, why is this important to you to achieve this goal or outcome? A useful exercise here is to ask, 'Why is this important to me?' four times, to each answer. This questioning will help to get beneath the surface level answer and can also help to uncover values and insights. Once you have your goals, write them down somewhere you will see them ideally in the morning and the evening. This keeps them at the front of your mind starting the day and in the evening you can reflect on daily progress.

2. Own it 

This is about keeping yourself accountable. No one is going to force you. This is where you need to hold yourself to a higher standard, making your shoulds a must on a consistent basis. Write down your daily systems for this. Don't wait for others to take responsibility or to push you; just do it. Own your commitment and keep promises to yourself the same way you would with others. It's a daily practice to become a habit, keep your mindset right and commit to your goals, especially when they are long-term. 

3. Do it

Consistency is key. Accountability is a daily practice and not a one-and-done. This is where we focus on the process and also what preparation work we need to do. For example, if your goal is to become healthier and method for this is getting to the gym three times a week before work. The pre-work for this might include getting to bed earlier, ensuring your bag is packed the night before and waking up earlier and possibly hiring a personal trainer to strengthen accountability. 

By taking action each day and pushing yourself to do what you need to do, you'll move towards your goal. By focusing on the process and being consistent, outcomes will come as a result of this. This is where having systems in place to support your goals is crucial and building habits around this. To help strengthen systems I like to ask two questions – 'How can I make this enjoyable?' and 'How can I make this easy?'

Using an example of wanting to achieve a certain grade at the end of the year. For me this might include having a study session at a coffee shop with Lo-fi beats music on to help me concentrate. To make it 'easy', ensuring I have a dedicated space to work in my house and that my desk is always clear of distractions. By priming my environment, I know when I sit down to work I can get right to it and take action.

Another approach I use is the daily highlight method, this is where you schedule into your calendar the task or activity that is a non-negotiable for you. Whilst this could be a personal-related highlight, I have been applying this to projects I work on and scheduling this first thing in the morning. This tight focus helps me to not procrastinate and I do it before other distractions come into my day. This is what Cal Newport would call 'deep work' in his book of the same name. Deep work which moves you in the direction of your goals. 

Lastly, having some sort of evening reflection practice helps to improve self-awareness and track if you are progressing as a person and towards your goal. By putting the day up for review like Seneca the stoic writer did, examine your day and your actions. Did you follow your plans today? What went well? How can you make tomorrow better? Where did you improve today? Tying this in with the previous questions makes this something you get to do not have to do. Do this around the same time each night in a nice quiet spot, grab yourself a new journal and enjoy the experience.

4. Solve it

I interpret this as when things are challenging or something not quite working. What's the plan? Often this might just be that something needs tweaking and fine-tuning in your system. Think of all of the above as experimenting + refining = success. E.g. not going to maths lessons – the more this happens it’s not going to get easier, leading to more temptation to skip them. Change this pattern! By doing things we don’t feel like doing or are difficult, we harness power over our minds and lower self. In turn, this builds our resilience and self-discipline. Another approach to this is from the book Atomic Habits and it’s the don’t miss twice approach. If we don’t do something we say we will it’s not creating a new habit of missing this commitment but getting back on track right away. 

As Jim Rohn put it, "If you want more you have to do more". With consistent accountability comes trust; trust in yourself and the earned trust of others which leads to success. Imagine how much your life would begin to change if you start holding yourself accountable for what you want and the work it takes to achieve it. Your confidence and self-belief will skyrocket as a result of this.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Written by Kieran Townsend, Youth Development Coach & Mentor
Bramley RG26 & Reading RG31

Kieran Townsend
Youth development coach and mentor

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