In all aspects of life, it’s important to hold yourself accountable for your actions and words. Accepting responsibility for the things you do and say is a valuable character trait. When you know that you’re going to be held responsible for your words and actions, you’ll choose them more carefully. Too many decisions and statements are made impulsively. This can result in hurting other people’s feelings by saying something that should’ve stayed in your head and saying things you don’t mean. Impulsivity can also cause you to make poor decisions that you might regret later. Thankfully, there are ways to quiet your reactive mind and give voice to more pragmatic thinking.

You’re reliable when you’re accountable.

Knowing that you’re accountable for what you do makes you more reliable. If you wish to become more reliable to your friends, family, and coworkers, start holding yourself accountable for your actions. Becoming accountable starts with changing your mindset. Reflect on your past behavior. What has worked well? What hasn’t? How have you affected others in a positive way? Analyzing these moments helps you to learn what actions you should duplicate and what you should avoid doing again. After shifting your mindset, do the following to help yourself become more accountable:

  • Set your values and stick to them. 
  • Finish tasks before you start new ones. 
  • Use short-term and long-term goal setting to help you manage your task load. 
  • Plan your days in a way that works for you. 
  • Measure your progress. Seeing growth encourages you to continue what you’re doing. 
  • Celebrate your achievements (big or small)! 
  • Seek others’ perspectives on how you work. It’ll help you identify areas where you need growth. 
  • Stay positive and remove your negative influences.

Use tools to hold yourself accountable. It’s about the result, not the process. If you need to use an app to manage your workflow, do it. Here’s a list of some great apps that will help you set tasks, complete them, and track your work progress. As you start to cross “to-do” items off your checklist, you’ll recognize that you’re becoming more accountable. If these projects are visible to your friends, family, or co-workers, they’ll notice your accountability increasing, too. When they see you hard at work and accomplishing your goals—they’ll view you as more reliable.

When you’re accountable, you’re responsible.

Nobody wants to be viewed as irresponsible. Giving people the impression that you’re unable to handle responsibilities will close doors of opportunity. To avoid missing out on opportunities for growth and learning, work to become accountable for your actions.  

According to an article by behavior scientist Jon Levy, there are three highly effective ways to begin holding yourself accountable:

The first method is to choose someone trustworthy who will help you become more accountable. You’ll want someone who won’t spare your feelings and will tell you the truth, but will also support and encourage you.

The second method is to set goals that increase in difficulty or effort. Start with small goals, and then set bigger goals each time you accomplish one. Doing this will help you generate momentum.

The third method is often called a commitment device or a “Ulysses Pact”. In this method, you make an agreement that requires you to finish what you start. For example, let’s say you need to accomplish a project within a certain timeframe. First, give a trusted person a sizeable amount of money. If you finish your project by the specified time, you get your money back. If you fail to complete the task, they get to keep your money. This type of pact doesn’t have to involve money. For instance, you could enter this pact with a significant other where the wager is to make dinner. Upon completion of the task, you will go out to dinner. But, if you do not reach your goal, you have to make an extravagant dinner (this method might not work for people who enjoy cooking). Whatever you use as your wager, make sure that it’s valuable to you, so you’re forced to either complete your task or lose the item.

Count on yourself and others will, too.

As you crush your goals and measure your successes, you’ll recognize the importance of accountability. You’ll find yourself getting better and better at setting objectives and estimating how long it’ll take to reach them. Don’t fear accepting new responsibilities when people assign them to you. They’re just recognizing that you work hard and trusting you to get stuff done!

If you’re struggling to become accountable with the help of a friend, try becoming self-reliant, first.