Accountability Can Change Everything

Sean Baumstark avatar

by Sean Baumstark |

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FA No Good Excuse

I want to give credit to this column, and the writing habit I have developed because of it, for some of the recent improvements in my personal performance. Writing doesn’t often come naturally to me, so I was hesitant at first about committing to a weekly column. If I’m honest, I leaned on several excuses before pulling the trigger.

I’ve used excuses concerning many areas of my life to put off tasks. I suppose the theory of selective attention has kicked in when it comes to my excuses or reasons, or the responsibilities I choose to avoid. Despite thoughts of personal accountability being at the forefront of my mind each week and the filter of “no good excuse,” I had mastered the use of rationalizations in some areas of my life.

I’m grateful for this new process, habit, and season of personal growth. Instead of beating myself up for things I’ve been lazy about or have avoided in the past, I recognize where I can take responsibility and make adjustments in my life. This column has shone a spotlight on my “opportunities” and given me consistent accountability.

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The most powerful benefit is the consistent and regular self-reflection that comes with putting my thoughts and experiences in writing to be viewed in a public format. If this were a journal I kept hidden under my bed, I guarantee you I’d be quick to employ excuses. “Going public” with my thoughts and perspectives bestows a deeper level of accountability on me.

I know that in everyday conversations when a friend is about to ask me about something and I intend to make an “excuse,” I’ll feel ashamed before he says a word. I anticipate questions like this most frequently from my mother. Following is an example of a recent conversation:

“Have you filed your taxes yet, son?”


“Why not?”


In this case, procrastination put me among the 14 million taxpayers who waited to file their taxes in 2018.

I grew up in “the church,” attending services every week, studying at a faith-based liberal arts university, and volunteering for a few years. My church days feel like a lifetime ago. I haven’t made attendance a priority in over five years. I remember having coffee with a dear friend of mine a couple of years ago, and he asked why I wasn’t attending church. I admitted that it wasn’t convenient for me. Service times weren’t ideal; a church I liked was too far to drive to; and so on. I knew my answer was honest, but I also realized that it was lame. For years, I talked about “going to church,” but I never did.

Then last week, this column challenged my level of responsibility. I realized that there are plenty of service times and options close to me. I finally took ownership in this area and made it happen. It wasn’t easy, but it was straightforward. Excuses are easy.

Through this column, I have found a new layer of accountability. I’m beginning to think that is perhaps the most significant starting point for anyone who wants to make life changes. You don’t need to write or share publicly, especially about something as personal as a life-shortening and debilitating disease like Friedreich’s ataxia. However, some self-accountability will be required if you want to stretch yourself beyond your circumstances, challenges, and disability.

We are all free to make our own choices and decisions (non-criminal, of course). However, along with that freedom and power comes responsibility. Take up the mantle of responsibility — and you’ll see how straightforward some things can be for you, too.


Friedreich’s Ataxia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


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