Fun Ways To Develop Personal Accountability For Wellness
Keeping accountable is an important part of meeting your health goals. You might want to focus on improving your physical fitness, or reduce stress in your life. Being personally accountable means taking ownership of your actions and for the consequences of your actions, too.
Taking responsibility for the outcomes of your actions can help you to improve your overall health. Personal accountability can also help you to perform better in other aspects of your life: both personal and professional. There are ways to make developing accountability enjoyable, and allow you to reap the benefits of meeting your health goals.
- What is personal accountability?
- Is being accountable different to being responsible?
- Benefits of being personally accountable
- Tips for keeping yourself accountable
What is personal accountability?
Put simply, personal accountability means taking ownership over your actions, and the outcomes of your actions. This skill is often used and taught in the context of professional development — but personal accountability is also a helpful skill for improving your personal health and wellness, too.
Is being accountable different to being responsible?
Responsibility is when you make decisions about the actions you will take. Accountability goes further — you are not just responsible for the actions you take, you also take ownership of the longer term outcomes of those actions.
How does this relate to fitness? You might already take responsibility for your actions (like knowing it’s your responsibility to get a workout done). Being accountable means recognising that skipping a workout can impact your path to building sustainable healthy habits.
For example, say you commit to working out three times a week. You plan ahead to make sure you meet this goal. But because of external circumstances that are out of your control, you only do one workout that week.
This is an outcome of your own (and sometimes, others) actions. Taking accountability means owning those outcomes, and putting in place solutions so that you can still meet your fitness goals.
The benefits of keeping yourself accountable
Personal accountability helps to keep you motivated and on track with your health aims. There are a few ways that it can improve your health and quality of life.
You’ll be more motivated to keep trying when you have setbacks
When external circumstances affect your ability to get things done, you can demonstrate accountability by owning these setbacks. This can empower you to realise that your actions are in your control, so you can take steps to continue towards achieving your goals.
Keep track of your goals
Being personally accountable means you’re more likely to keep track of where you’re at with your goals, and what you’re doing to achieve them. Staying on track and remaining focused on your objectives means you can adjust your actions to keep working toward meeting your goals.
A 2015 study by Dominican University of California in the US found that accountability had a positive impact on participants' capacity to achieve their goals, specifically through being accountable to a friend.
Improve your relationships
Having personal accountability may mean you improve your relationships with others. In a 2005 study by Utrecht University in The Netherlands, researchers found that developing personal accountability resulted in more positive social behaviour in children. This may come in the form of building trust, as people know they can rely on you to take responsibility for the outcomes of your actions.
11 ways to keep yourself accountable
Staying accountable will help you to achieve your health and wellness goals. To get started with developing your personal accountability, there are some measures you can put in place.
1. Removing blame
It’s normal to have setbacks when you’re striving towards a health goal, in almost every aspect of life. But it’s important that when you run into these roadblocks, you don’t blame others or other external factors for them.
This doesn’t mean feeling as though it's all your fault or punishing yourself — but feeling empowered to identify where things went wrong and take steps to ensure you can get back on track. You recognise that you have control over your actions and their outcomes.
2. Set clear goals
Setting clear goals for yourself is a great way to ensure you have clarity over the health and wellness results you’d like to achieve. Setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely) ensures you are able to take specific actions that will bring you closer to achieving your goals.
In a 2002 study by Cardiff University in the UK, researchers found that athletes who adhered to a clear “goal setting intervention” stuck to their rehabilitation program more than other participants in the study.
You can use your goals to make sure you stay on track, and remind yourself of why you’re taking the actions you are taking, such as setting your alarm for 6am so you can workout before your day begins.
3. Reward yourself when you achieve positive outcomes
Remember, you’re not just responsible for the negative consequences of your actions — you’re responsible for the positive results of your actions too! Which means you should fully enjoy the outcomes of your actions as much as you can.
This might mean rewarding yourself for getting all your workouts done in one week by having a movie night with your friends, or buying yourself something you’ve been wanting for a while.
4. Do what you enjoy
Whether you’re trying to get fitter or practicing mindfulness, try to make developing your wellness enjoyable for you. Find a training style that you enjoy, or make sure the meditation app you’re using is one that you like.
You can enjoy taking ownership of your actions and their outcomes. When you take pride in being personally accountable, you can make conscious choices to achieve the outcomes you want by doing activities that you enjoy.
5. Remind yourself of your achievements
Remembering what you've done well can help keep you accountable. Remember to look back at where you were when you started your health journey.
This might mean looking at pictures of yourself from before you started working toward your fitness goals, or reflecting on the number of reps you could do of a challenging exercise at the start of your journey and comparing this to now.
6. Develop healthy habits
Habits are the actions we take on a daily basis, sometimes without even realising. Taking ownership of your habits, and trying to develop healthy habits on a daily basis that improve your overall wellbeing will help you stay accountable for your health journey.
Remember that you are in control of your habits, even though sometimes you might not realise!
7. Keep a schedule
Having a “system” for which you measure and track your wellness habits (i.e. when you do exercise or when you do meal prep) can help you to maintain your progress and keep track. When something goes wrong, it’s then easier to look at your schedule (or your system) and determine where things might have slipped up.
There will always be fluctuations in schedules and timing — that’s life! But if you’re able to identify where things might have stopped you from meeting your goals, it’s easier to identify a solution so that you can try and prevent it from happening again.
8. Keep track of your progress
If you have set goals for yourself, an important part of measuring your success is keeping track of how you are progressing with them. Knowing your progress can also keep you motivated to keep pursuing your objectives.
In a 2015 research study by Dominican University in California the US, participants who sent progress reports on a weekly basis to a friend achieved more than those who only wrote down their goals and commitments.
This might mean using the SWEAT app to take photos of your body progress, or it might mean keeping track of your strength levels by recording how many certain exercises you can do in a minute, like push-ups or burpees.
9. Write things down
Writing down your workouts once you’ve done them, or keeping a gratitude journal can help remind you why you've committed to these healthy activities — even on the days when you're not feeling motivated.
10. Have a backup plan
When you have setbacks like a change in schedule or something unexpected prevents you from taking action to achieve your goals, it’s important to have a plan in place so that you’re in the best possible position to get things done. Your routine won’t always stay the same, so be prepared for things to shift and to take action when they do.
11. Get an accountability partner
You don’t have to do it all alone! An accountability buddy can help you to stay on track with your fitness goals. You might work out with a friend, or check in with each other on a weekly basis to talk about your health progress.
Telling someone else about your goals can motivate you to keep working towards them. Plus, if you’re working out or setting goals with a partner you can make your goal setting more fun and a social activity. If you can’t meet up with a friend in-person, you can also do this via video chat, or you can share your goal on social media.
According to a 2015 study by University College London in the UK, you are more likely to make a health-changing behaviour if your partner does too — so get your loved ones and people who are close to you involved to support you.
Being accountable for your health goals
The first step to being accountable is deciding what you’d like to achieve, and what you’re staying accountable for. Do you want to get fitter, or maybe develop mindfulness in your everyday life?
You may like to reflect on how you’re feeling overall, and try to determine what it is you need most. Remember that leading a healthy lifestyle is an ongoing journey, and you can start as small or as big as you like. Be kind to yourself and don’t be afraid to just start!
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.