At one of my past jobs, one of the big pushes that management made toward the employees was accountability. They always encouraged us not to blame others for shortcomings and make the work environment feel petty. Instead, we were told to be introspective and ask what we could have done to make the situation different.
Sometimes, this principle is annoying. If it was another person’s fault, why should I feel responsible for it? However, taking personal responsibility for my actions in the work force rubbed off in my personal life. I now try to apply this principle when I can in my day-to-day dealings with others. True, sometimes it is their fault. More often than not, though, my actions play a part in why the situation went the way it did. This introspection forces me to do some reflecting on how I handle things, and it has been a great tool for me in the realm of personal finance.
Once I decided that I wanted to be more aware of where I was spending my money, I realized that I needed to analyze my habits before I could make any changes. What sort of money mistakes was I making? I thought I was doing okay with my finances, but I had to be really introspective and honest with myself to acknowledge the areas that I performed poorly (namely, entertainment costs). Then, the challenge became holding myself accountable when I did make those mistakes. If I went over my budget in one area, I forced myself to analyze why. Did I not budget enough in the beginning? Was that truly an adequate amount? Did I make poor decisions that made me go over my budget? Was it a emergency or something unavoidable, or was it something that I had convinced myself was an emergency?
Holding yourself accountable shouldn’t be about shaming yourself when you make terrible decisions (at least, that’s not all of it!). Instead, it should make you start looking into your motives behind your actions, and by addressing the reasons why you act/spend/do the things you do, it can give you insight on how you need to change.
Another reason for accountablity: most people want to share their successes with the world. Accountability, if used properly, also makes you share some of your shortcomings and failures. By putting this out into the world, you will most likely try to hold yourself accountable more often – after all, there’s someone out there who knows that you failed. Wouldn’t it be nice to tell them that you succeeded?
That being said, I am going to try to take my level of self-responsibility to a higher level. My next post is going to cover some financial goals that I have set for myself. Periodically, I will check in and update on those goals, whether it be good, bad, or ugly. I hope that this level of transparency makes a positive impact on me reaching my goals, but I am also fine with having a way to vent and ponder why I failed.
Have any readers decided to up their level of personal responsibility, or become more aware of it? Share your experience in the comments!