I came across an interesting article recently about accountability. More specifically, it talked about people who successfully practice and integrate accountability into their lives. It's worth reading.
But what does that have to do with the topic of this blog of creating more awareness and meaning in life? In my experience, accountability is at the heart of it and I see significant overlap between the characteristics of accountability expressed in the article and the experience of the last decade. While I will save the article's explanations for each of the characteristics of an accountable person, I will offer my take on how it applies in this space:
1. They take responsibility: It has been up to me to be responsible for creating the meaningful change I wanted in my life. That meant an honest assessment of a job I did not like even though it provided a mountain of security. It also meant I was responsible for decision made (or not made) regarding that reality. In the end, it was not my boss, friends, or family keeping me in that position. It was me and me alone.
2. They don't make excuses: It has not been a linear journey by any stretch. Some things went very well and others horribly wrong. In the case of the latter, it was important to be brutally honest about what happened, acknowledge my role in it, and determine how to do better
3. They are on time: This one is more difficult to overlay on my experience. However, the process of building a more intentional life meant going to mentors for advice, insight and guidance. I did my best to treat their time as important as I would treat my own.
4. They control their own fate: Twice during the ten years since I quit I have consider myself a victim; that my situation had been caused by someone else. I did not spend an overt amount of time in that state, but in retrospect, even a day might have been too much. The important thing was to take the hand I had been dealt and played it as best I could with the options available. It was painful and gut wrenching at times, but that proactive approach made me feel like I was doing something about it rather than just taking hits for their own sake.
5. They own their feelings: Similarly, I had to be responsible for what I was feeling and why. Fortunately, I have had a lot of help learning how to do this. It isn't always perfect but it has become an indispensable tool. It helps reduce excuse making and forces me to finally as myself, "So what am I going to do about it?"
6. They manage expectations: This is an ongoing struggle and an be especially difficult for life's "achievers." I have big, lofty ambitions for what this fulfilled life looks like and a short timetable for it to take place. However, flexibility is the name of the game because more often than not, while reality is not matching my imagination, it is often giving me something I was not aware I needed.
7. They collaborate: I like to think I have gotten where I am on my own, but that's as much of a myth as the self-made person pulling themselves up by their own boot straps after being born in a log cabin they built by themselves. You get the idea. And thank goodness I had others along the way to help me. they all cheered and supported me, which made an otherwise lonely journey less lonely.
8. They don't expect praise: Don't undertake to remake your life if the reason is to get a pat on the back from someone else. If it comes, say thank you. If it doesn't, well, it was never about external sources to begin with. This is an internal journey. If you can honestly tell your reflection how proud you are of the person looking back at you, that's accountability enough.