I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about accountability lately. You see, I’ve had this ongoing conversation with my inner critic for most of my life telling me “You’re not good at holding yourself accountable for things.” I began to think “What does that even mean?”

Here are some sound bites so you get a sense of what I’ve been listening to from the voice in my head.

I want to write a book. 

“What??  Where did that crazy thought come from.”  I’ll show you … and a stack of half baked notes and scribblings sitting in a notebook later I hear … “Your an engineer, Erin … there is NO way you can write a book … a book, really!? Ha!”


I want to be stronger in my body by exercising 4 times a week.  

“4 times a week?  Right Erin, You have a home gym that’s pretty well stocked and it’s collecting dust.  I’ve told you before that you wouldn’t be able to get fit on your own. Even when you have everything you need right here you just can’t do it!”

So naturally, it’s about accountability … Right? But what is ‘accountability’ anyway?  Why do we need it? Do I need an accountability partner?

Merriam Webster’s defines accountability as the quality or state of being accountable:  an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.

Willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions.  Ok. I am totally willing and do accept responsibility for my actions. Or do I? Wait, this exploration hurts a bit — Ouch! <insert cringe here>

This realization was pretty mind blowing at first and honestly I feel a lot of resistance around admitting this. I wanted more,  I needed to keep digging.  What about “responsibility”?  What did that really mean 

Responsibility is the state of being the person who caused something to happen; a duty or task that you are required or expected to do; something that you should do because it is morally right, legally required, etc.  Or simply the ability to respond.

As I sat with these two definitions, they began to merge today.  Something shifted in me as the new, more clear definition of what accountability means to me was born. 

Accountability is a state of being where you are willing to be the person who caused something to happen.


Ok … now we’re getting somewhere. And WHOA … this was powerful and profound for me.  I was able to look at the tasks and goals in front me in a whole new light, with grace and compassion.  Here’s where you can start.


Step 1 – Shift Your Mindset

It’s time to ask yourself “Am I truly willing to step into the state of being where I am willing to be the person who causes this to happen?”  “This” being anything that your struggling with or want to achieve.


Step 2 – Barriers and Roadblocks

“What is currently getting in my way? I encourage you to ask this very important question because I’m going to go out on limb and say there IS something, probably an invisible something, keeping you from stepping into this state of being. If you aren’t sure if this barrier or roadblock is a test or a sign, you can read more about that here


Step 3 – Resources and Support

“What resources and support do I need to be successful in this area of my life?” Having an honest conversation with yourself about the support and resources you’ll need is critical to your success in completing the tasks or achieving the goal you have declared you want. 


Reflection Questions


What ‘thing’ are you struggling with when it comes to accountability in your life , either personally or professionally?

Are you willing to step into a state of being and willing accept that you are the one who has to make this ‘thing’ happen?

If you answered YES – Congratulations!  Apply the three steps above and get ‘er done!! 

If you answered NO – Congratulations!  You’ve just determined that this ‘thing’ is not that important to you or your life.  Stop beating yourself up about it and give yourself permission to move on. 

There is no right or wrong answer here.

It’s personal and unique.  Recognize that progress has been made and space has been created.


I write these articles to support leaders in becoming more effective by embracing all parts of themselves and increasing their capacity to practice empathy.

Thank you for being here.  



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