Holding Yourself Personally Accountable Isn’t an Action. It’s an Identity

Do the Opposite of Let Yourself Down


It’s a shitty feeling when I let myself down. I think to myself, “You could have done better. You should have done better.”

Then my ego comes up with all sorts of excuses. “Chris, you’re being too hard on yourself.” Or, “It was Kim’s fault, not yours.” Crap like that.

But this BS don’t make me feel any better. More importantly, it doesn’t change the fact that I didn’t do what I should have done.

And I shouldn’t need anyone to hold my hand, tug me by a leash, or put a carrot in front of my face. I’m not a child, dog, or donkey. I’m a grown-up who should be able to hold himself accountable.

So I’m trying the opposite of letting myself down:

I’m holding myself up.

To hold myself personally accountable, I’m holding myself up to a higher standard with the mindset that I’m the CEO of My Life, Unincorporated.

Yes, it sounds douchey to call myself CEO of My Life. But it works. Here’s how.

How to Hold Yourself Accountable

Me suiting up for my role as CEO of my life
“Suit up” and assume the identity as CEO of your life. (I prefer the Silicon Valley CEO style.)

Assume the Role

Being personally accountable isn’t an action; it’s an identity.

The best explanation of this I’ve found comes from, of all places, Reddit:

Stop viewing decisions as choosing what to do, and start viewing them as choosing who to be.

When the alarm goes for the gym and your hand is hovering over the snooze button, don’t ask yourself if you want to sleep for another ten minutes. Ask yourself if you want to be the kind of person who is lazy and doesn’t follow through on commitments.

I can’t guarantee it will work 100% of the time, but it will be a lot more effective. And once you start living a life that is consistent with your personal values, your self esteem will rocket upwards.

Reddit user Eightstream

So I can’t act as if I am the CEO of my life. I have to be the CEO.

Whether or not My Life’s stock pops like Amazon’s, I own it for the long haul.

Own It

Unlike slick suit-and-tie corporate CEOs (or hoodie and bad hair Silicon Valley types), I can’t get fired. And I can’t sell my shares to the highest bidder and move on to something more exciting.

I’m CEO till I RIP.

So I have to build My Life like Jeff Bezos built Amazon1The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon is a good read on this..

While others fight to show off impressive quarterly results, I’ll take my lumps reporting less-impressive short-term profits. My focus is on my long-term mission.

Eventually, My Life’s stock will pop like Amazon’s. And even if it doesn’t, I feel I’m better off not caving into external pressures. I own 100% of My Life, anyway, so I don’t have to.

Rwanda itinerary guide cover image of Chris and Kim at Lake Kivu
Kim and I on our mission.

Make A Mission

Like any successful corporation, My Life needs a mission statement. It guides my decision making and ensures all departments in my org chart—like this blog, my relationships with Kim and others, R&D, and health—work together in the same direction.

There are endless guides to creating a personal mission statement. I’ll probably add a guide of my own to the frass eventually. [Update: Done!] Here’s the best structure I’ve found, courtesy of Donald Miller:

  1. The problem Your Life seeks to solve.
  2. How you will solve it.
  3. The rewarding outcome.

And here’s my mission:

To fight complacency, which lulls us into going back and forth in our lives’ paths until the ruts we erode are too deep to climb out of.

We’ll do so by enthusiastically exploring and blazing our best possible paths. And we’ll try to haul as many people as possible out of their ruts to do the same.

Because a rut-less world where everyone makes the most of their trips through life would be an extra extraordinary place.

Mission: Impossible to Complete

The “result” of My Life’s mission isn’t an attainable goal or target. It’s an action or process.

All I can hope to do is get better and better at it, no matter what. That’s winning at life.

Future self looking over shoulder of current self
My future self is my accountability partner. He doesn’t care for my B.S. excuses.

No Excuses

Excuses are like assholes. Everyone has one and they’re all full of sh*t.

Excuses are also like blog posts: abundant, cheap, poorly conceived and, while you think they’re helpful at the time, they don’t actually get you anywhere.

But everyone knows already that excuses are garbage. So I have no excuse for continuing to make them.

How to Stop Making Excuses

CEOs can’t hide behind excuses.

Their shareholders and board members won’t accept “COVID” or “competition from China” or whatever, and give you a consoling hug while whispering, “There, there. It’s not your fault.” They expect the best possible results given the situation and updated plans.

My Life’s shareholders and board members are my future selves. And I report to them with my lifelogging practice, which I started as an experiment 5 years ago and has proven to be even more useful than just an accountability tool.

Try it.

Or if it’s not enough for you to hold yourself accountable, find accountability partners. They can act as a proxy for Your Life’s board and shareholders.

Somehow, you need to report your plans and progress. Doing so has helped me realize I can’t fudge the results and that excuses are wasted words.

All that matters is what progress I made toward my mission and what I’m going to do next.

Kim bored reading this post on how to hold yourself accountable
Two things before you move on to some other site and forget all about this.

Don’t Let This Post Be Another Asshole

Remember how excuses are like assholes and blog posts?

Well that applies to this blog post written by this asshole (me), too.

Because while I hope this CEO mindset sticks with you like it has with me, everything here on how to hold yourself more accountable is as useless as an excuse unless you actually do something with it.

That’s up to you.

If you’re serious about being more personally accountable, prove it to yourself by starting with this homework:

  1. Make a mission statement. You can always change it as you go. Every company does. If you’re not convinced or unsure how to start, read how and why I came up with my personal mission statement.
  2. Start tracking and reporting. Try lifelogging or find an accountability buddy to hold yourself accountable.

You’re the CEO of Your Life. Seize the role and deliver your mission. No excuses.

Don’t let yourself down.

Make The Most of Your Trip Through Life

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Chris and Kim

Kim and Chris started The Unconventional Route in 2018 to share their adventures fighting complacency to win at life. Today, over 150,000 people a month visit the site and thousands more explore a dose of uncomplacent ideas with them every 10 days in their free newsletter, Consider This.

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