They say that we’re the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Bet on yourself and improve your average by connecting with an accountability partner.
It took me a long time to learn how the people I surround myself with affect my life. In my twenties, I realized that some people were so negative, that they made me more negative. As I moved away and found distance, my life got better.
In my thirties, I discovered that as I surrounded myself with supportive and positive people, I became more supportive and positive. Today I have a deep awareness of how others affect my thoughts and feelings. I’m also aware of how I’m affecting others.
While this concept is applicable in all areas of our lives, it’s especially relevant for setting and achieving goals. No matter how strong-willed and resilient we are, the people around us can either lift us up or tear us down.
What Motivates You?
We are all uniquely wired and motivated. Some of us can do well with very little support. While other do best when they have someone to hold them accountable for each step.
In her book, Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin reveals the “Four Tendencies” we use when responding to expectations.
- Upholders respond to all inner and outer expectations.
- Questioners only meet expectations if they think it makes sense.
- Rebels resist both inner and outer expectations.
- Obligers do great with outer expectations but struggle to meet their inner ones.
Which of these four tendencies do you most identify with? You can find out which tendency is strongest by taking this quiz.
If you want to create lasting change in your life, it’s important to understand what motivates you. Only Upholders meet both internal and external expectations and according to Rubin, they are a very small group. Obligers are the largest group. While each tendency would benefit from an accountability partner, Obligers need them most.
Could an Accountability Partner Help You?
Sharing our goals is one of the most simple and overlooked keys to success. When we share with trusted supporters we boost our accountability and have cheerleaders along the way.
An accountability partner will challenge you to stick to your plan and achieve more. They’ll be there to support you when you struggle and pick you up when you fall. Your partner will keep you engaged by reminding why you committed to this in the first place. They’ll be the voice of reason and bring an alternative perspective. All of this ensures you win big.
Be aware that some people who commit to big life changes encounter pushback from those closest to them. Change can be threatening. It raises a mirror to our weaknesses and shortcomings. Others might see your amazing changes as a threat to your relationship. In these situations, your accountability partner will be there to encourage you to keep going.
Last but not least, they’ll be there to help you celebrate your accomplishments along the way. Many of us find it challenging to recognize and celebrate how far we’ve come. Your accountability partner will be there to remind you and help you take pride in all that you’ve done.
How to Find an Accountability Partner
Your best accountability partner might be someone you already know. Maybe it’s a longtime friend, a former colleague, or an acquaintance from a community group. I’ll share the qualities that make a good accountability partner later. For now, start brainstorming people you who might be a good fit.
A word caution pertaining to friends and family. If you think there’s a chance that this type of partnership could damage your relationship, it probably will. Sometimes it’s easier to hear feedback from a colleague than a close friend. If this is a concern for either of you, find someone else.
After you’ve identified a few people, you’ll want to narrow it down. Propose your idea to those who are committed to their own goals and have the free time to invest in this partnership.
You could start the conversation by saying, “I noticed that you’ve been doing a great job being intentional with your goals. Do you have someone who is helping you with that? The reason I ask is because I’m trying to get better at holding myself accountable. I was thinking that we could help each other with this. Would you have time to dedicate to an accountability partnership?”
It’s okay to have more than one accountability partner. You might not want to take relationship advice from your fitness buddy, and that’s okay. Don’t go overboard. Shoot for no more than two partners, especially when you’re starting out.
Goals, Accountability, and Your Significant Other
My husband is my best accountability partner. Who better to support you than the person who loves you for your strengths and your weaknesses?
It’s natural for my husband and me to work on our goals together. We believe that having shared goals and values is important to our marriage. Our dreams are interconnected and we both benefit when the other achieves their goals.
If you aren’t at this point with your significant other, don’t despair. The best way to change someone’s mind is to lead by example. When they see the positive changes you are making in your life, they’ll be inspired to jump on board too.
If your spouse is an amazing accountability partner, you may want to consider another partner. Sometimes our challenges can cause more stress than our spouse needs to bear. In these cases, it’s better to have someone by our side who won’t be worried whether we fail or succeed.
Qualities of Great Accountability Partners
- Honest – They will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. They won’t let their personal baggage interfere with what they communicate to you.
- Kind – They will communicate honestly and in a way that is helpful. They’re generous with positive feedback, not just negative.
- Trustworthy – You can share openly knowing that your partner values confidentiality. If your partner gossips often about others, there’s a good chance they’ll do the same to you.
- Humble – You feel confident that your partner will not judge you. This will allow you to communicate openly and on a level playing field. A good partner will accept you for who you are and will not try to change you.
- Generous – A good partner will be generous with their time and feedback. A good partnership is made up of two people who give freely and want to see the other succeed.
- Shared Values – It’s important that you and your partner share the same values. You’ll better understand where the other is coming from if you come from the same place.
- Positive – Choose a partner who frames ideas and challenges in a positive light. Look for someone who can see what your mistakes make possible so you can keep moving forward.
- Good Listener – Choose a partner who cares more about understanding what you are communicating than giving you advice. When you’re talking to potential partners, observe if they’re deeply listening or thinking about how they will respond.
- Committed – Find someone who is committed to achieving their own goals and dreams. Having equally committed individuals will ensure the partnership is mutually beneficial.
- Consistent – Choose an accountability partner who keeps their word and follows through on promises. Make sure your partner is reasonably organized and can meet deadlines.
Remember that you are the other half of this partnership. The relationship must be a win-win or it’s worthless. Make sure you are willing to commit to the same qualities you are looking for.
How to Build an Accountability Partnership
When you find someone who agrees to a partnership, work to create parameters that are mutually beneficial. There are a few things you’ll want to lay out upfront that will help you both prosper.
First, learn how the other is motivated. Are they intrinsically or extrinsically motivated? Do they respond best to punishment or reward?
Next, share your goals and your why that’s driving them. It’s important for your partner to understand your deepest desires.
Have an open conversation about what you expect of yourself and the other person. Allow the opportunity for both of you to share how you envision this partnership working.
Set expectations for how you will communicate. It’s essential that you communicate in a way that is direct and honest. If you see behavior in your partner that is sabotaging their success, you must be able to communicate this in a way that is helpful.
Discuss how you will move forward if one of you feels that the partnership isn’t working. If it’s not working for one of you, neither of you will benefit from maintaining the partnership. Have a frank discussion ahead of time about how you will approach the situation.
Outlining your expectations upfront will prevent communication breakdowns in the future.
Structuring Your Partnership
Create a schedule that works for both of you. A great starting point is one call per week. Determine how long your call will be and split the time equally.
Set a time that both of you can stick to. Aside from an occasional vacation or emergency, you should avoid rescheduling your call. One cancellation is powerful enough to derail your entire commitment.
Depending on what you are working on, you may want to have daily check-ins via email or text. For example, if you’re both writers, you might agree to text each other a picture of your daily word count. If you’re working on a fitness goal, you might text a picture of your workout summary.
Decide what form of communication works best. If you live in the same city, you might enjoy a weekly lunch meeting. Maybe you both prefer using phone and email. Don’t forget about Skype and Facetime. Determine a mix that will work best for both of you.
Set an agenda and stick to it. You can create a guide that you follow from week to week. Or you can create individual agendas each week and email them to your partner the day before the call. Some items you’ll want to include are updates, challenges, and plans for the week ahead.
Finally, schedule regular reviews to ensure the partnership is working for both of you. Be open to change anything that is no longer working.
If you can afford it, coaches make the best accountability partners. You will accelerate your progress by having someone who is dedicated to your growth. Unlike friends and family, a coach will be free from emotional baggage and will work for your best interest. A coach won’t be shy about checking in on your progress and you’ll be more open to hearing their feedback. It’s a great option!
Whether you create an accountability partnership with your spouse, former colleague, or hire a coach, you’ll enjoy the goal-setting process much more. This could be the one thing that makes your dreams come true. Over the coming week, make a list of how you think an accountability partner could help you.