I’ve just entered into a new partnership! One that I’m pleased to say my husband is quite open to – well mainly because it has nothing to do with our marriage, and everything to do with my success. Yes, I have gone and got myself an accountability partner.
What is an accountability partner, you ask?
It’s somebody who helps you fulfil a goal through regular meetings to check your progress. It’s a reciprocal, committed partnership, based on trust & a shared drive to succeed.
And why is it such a great idea?
Quite simply, knowing you’ll be answering to someone regularly pushes you harder to progress than if you’re just accountable to yourself. In fact, in a study conducted by Dr Gail Matthews & Dr Stephen Kraus* it was discovered participants who had accountability achieved far more of their goals (33% more) than those who merely thought about them.
*Dr.Gail Matthews is a psychology professor at Dominican University & Dr. Stephen Kraus is a social psychologist from Harvard University.
How does having an accountability partner work in practice?
You and your accountability partner agree upon set goals you’re each working towards. Then you commit to talking regularly either by phone, online or in-person to hold each other accountable for meeting your deadlines and making progress.
Good to know: You do need to set agreed-upon times quite firmly in your diary. The regularity is up to you and your partner, which depending on the needs of your partnership could be daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. The key is to make sure that unless completely unavoidable you stick to your appointment.
During your meeting, you’ll update each other, share ideas, give feedback and set new tasks to be completed before the next meeting. (I’ve got a free worksheet coming up to help you structure your meetings!)
Success coach Jack Canfield suggests that accountability partnerships ‘work best and last longest when meetings are kept short and focused.’ Something to keep in mind, especially if your accountability partner is also a friend!
What should you look for in an accountability partner?
As I mentioned above, there’s no reason why your accountability partner can’t be a friend. In fact, for my accountability partner, I chose my best friend. But if you are going to pick a friend, make sure they’re the type friend who is actually going to hold you accountable and isn’t going to provide you with a free pass just because it’s you.
Whoever you choose, you should make sure they tick these boxes:
- Committed: someone who is as excited to reach their goals as you are yours & is committed to the partnership.
- Genuinely interested in helping you succeed (and not just in how you can help them)
- Similar communication style (or at least an understanding & appreciation of each other’s communication style)
- Trustworthy: Someone who you trust to have your best interests at heart & who will keep your discussions private.
And although not essential, a good partner is one who will help motivate & provide enthusiasm to boost you up at times when you’re doubting yourself.
Setting your goal
An effective partnership not only needs a partner, it most certainly needs a goal! For any goal to be truly effective it needs to be two things, measurable & time-specific. It’s also good if the goal you set for yourself makes you feel a little uncomfortable. That means you’re increasing your comfort zone, learning new skills & developing yourself. With the support of your partnership behind you, isn’t that a great opportunity to make a bigger leap?
Top tip: Once you’ve set your goal, be sure to write it down & view it daily. This will activate your subconscious mind into working out how to bring you closer to achieving it. My goals are on my vision board, but you can place them anywhere you’ll see them regularly. Why not set a daily reminder on your phone so it pings you with it each & every day?
Want your own vision board? Read: Goal Getter: How to create & use a vision board
You’ll need to chunk your big goal down into smaller more manageable steps. It’s handy if you can complete this before your first partnership meeting, that way you’ll go into it with a clearer idea of the steps you’ll need to take each month. It will also mean you don’t overcommit yourself when target setting and fall short. However, this isn’t essential, this could be something your partner helps you to work out. It’s not unreasonable to not know how to do something if you’ve never done it before.
Things to keep in mind to keep your partnership successful…
- Set a timeframe – as well as agreeing a mutually convenient date & time for your meetings, agree on upfront how long you expect the partnership to run for. It’s not ideal if your partner’s goal is likely to be completed within 2-months but yours will take a year. My partner and I have both set goals with deadlines for the end of this year. We both understand that is the timeframe of partnership we’ve committed to. It’s OK if one partner has a quicker goal than the other, as long as once the goal is achieved they have other goals they’ll introduce to cover the span of the arrangement.
- Operate a culture of non-judgement & empathy** – yes you need to hold your partner accountable but they also need to know your partnership is a safe & supportive space. Be empathetic especially if circumstances are beyond their control. If you can, suggest ways for them to progress.
- Adjust as needed – having a structure helps, however you do need to be flexible to adjustment when things aren’t quite working out as they should. Perhaps your goal needs tweaking? Or you need to meet more regularly or less regularly. Maybe you need to change the format? The important thing is to be open & discuss what isn’t working with your partner so that you get back on track in a mutually beneficial way.
I’ve created a worksheet here for you to download & use to structure your sessions
[Please note, this worksheet assumes you’ve already chosen & agreed your goal with your accountability partner]Accountability-partnership-worksheet
It’s only through taking action that we can achieve our goals
Whilst an accountability partner won’t do the hard work for you (although wouldn’t that be nice!) – they’ll at least be a key driver in you making serious progress towards them.
Have you heard of accountability partnerships before? Are you part of one already? Any top tips or advice to share? Whatever you’d like to say, I’d love to hear from you! Simply leave a comment in the box below.