Let’s face it: January is over and you still haven’t made a dent in your new-year goals.
Complete that cardio circuit at the gym? Nah, you’re too busy at work. Contribute to your savings account or retirement fund? That seems impossible, too, because all your friends have winter birthdays — and you know they’ll love you for gifting them the latest hot gadgets.
Maybe you even had plans to launch your own business, but you haven’t yet followed through.
No matter how small or lofty your goals, sometimes it seems like you just can’t turn your dreams into reality.
It’s not because you’re incompetent — you just can’t keep yourself accountable all the time.
You could probably benefit from an accountability partner.
What’s an Accountability Partner?
Simply put, an accountability partner refers to someone who knows your goals and helps keep you on track — and also calls you out when you’re just making excuses.
Having an accountability partner doesn’t make you weak. Many successful business people have an accountability partner — a person with whom they check in regularly to track progress and work through specific obstacles.
An accountability partner isn’t just a mentor, because the relationship should be mutually beneficial. That is, it’s your job to make sure your partner stays committed to her own goals, too.
After all, that’s the beauty of a partnership. It’s symbiotic.
What Are the Benefits of an Accountability Partner?
Here are a few ways how having an accountability partner can enhance your life:
- You increase your chance of success. Studies have shown that people are more likely to achieve their goals if they work toward them with a partner. For example, if your goal is to lose weight or increase your physical fitness, you have up to a 95% success rate if you exercise with a partner — compared to a 43% success rate if you exercise alone. That’s because you motivate each other. However, keep in mind while having a partner to help you achieve specific goals such as losing a certain amount of weight, the results you see will be because of your own efforts, not someone else’s. Lean on them, use them to motivate you, and allow that support to push you even higher individually, but remember that you can only change yourself by your own efforts, not someone else’s.
- You learn responsibility. When you’ve found someone who has agreed to push you toward your goals on a daily basis, it consistently reminds you that you’re responsible for your own progress — in any endeavor. And this can be an important lesson in self-awareness, carrying over to other aspects of your life, whether personal or professional. Your partner will learn some lessons in responsibility, too.
- You figure out your flaws. As successful as you are, you may be blind to your own weaknesses — those little things you can easily improve with a bit of effort. An accountability partner can point out your excuses and make you aware of those areas you need to work on to become better at what you’re trying to achieve. You’ll also contribute to your partner’s self-improvement.
How Do I Choose an Accountability Partner?
There’s no need to advertise on Craigslist — your best chances at an accountability partner are within someone you already know and trust.
Consider, for example, a significant other, best friend or parent.
Just make sure you choose someone you know can be reliable and honest with you on regular basis.
Here are a few tips:
- Seek confidentiality. Sure, you’re close with your aunt, and she’s always honest — but maybe a little too honest on social media. If you want to be truthful about your goals, you don’t necessarily want the entire world to know what they are — so pick someone who won’t share everything you say about your personal life on Facebook. Confidentiality is key, even if you do break your commitment and eat that high-calorie Krispy Kreme doughnut (much to your aunt’s chagrin).
- Seek a challenge. The whole point of an accountability partner is to keep you accountable for your actions, not to make you feel like royalty when you don’t measure up. So don’t choose someone you know will be an eternal pushover and, well, make excuses for your excuses. For example, if your mom is eternally doting and you can never do wrong in her eyes, she may not be the best at this partnership — especially when you lapse in judgment. Really, there are no good excuses.
- Seek consistency. A good accountability partner needs to be there for you on a regular basis — and remain easily accessible. Otherwise, you’ll slip on your daily goals — and your partner will, too. Choose someone who has the ability to communicate early and often, whether it’s via phone, email or in person. Consistent and reliable motivation can be crucial to your progress, no matter what you’ve chosen as your end goal.
- Seek consequences. You don’t need a Skinner box, but you should still come up with a few consequences of not meeting your daily goals — and find an accountability partner who will enforce them. The circle of consequence can be a very effective learning tool and train you to achieve what you want (or else).
I Chose an Accountability Partner: Now What?
Now that you’ve selected your accountability partner, here are a few quick tips on how to make the most of the relationship:
- Write down your goals. This will make it easiest for you to monitor each other’s progress — and record your honest feedback.
- Establish a regular check-in time. Set an alarm and take 10 minutes to check in with your partner on a frequent basis, whether it’s via phone, email or text.
- Meet face-to-face. There’s no bond quite like a face-to-face connection. Use your new accountability partnership to strengthen your personal relationship — in person.
Grab the right accountability partner and you’ll never fail at your new year’s resolution again.
And, if you’re a good enough motivator, neither will that close person in your life.
There’s always strength in symbiosis.