How to Work with an Accountability Partner to Conquer Your Personal Goals
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Struggling to reach your goals?
If so, then one of the best ways to get what you want is to find and work with an accountability partner.
An accountability partner is like a partnership where you mutually agree to coach each other and provide feedback on a regular basis. You and your accountability partner agree to daily or weekly feedback sessions to share wins and talk about your current challenges.
Accountability partner conversations have some similarity to mastermind meetings. The biggest difference is that the flow of conversation focuses solely on the two accountability partners instead of a group of several people.
If you have an accountability partner, you usually get more personalized help with your goals because the other person is focused on your success.
In this article, we’ll talk about the benefits of accountability. How to find the right accountability partner. And a simple five-step plan for getting results with these regular meetings.
Let’s get to it.
Why Accountability Matters
There are two types of accountability—internal and external. The focus of this article is on external accountability.
But before dig into the details of external accountability it’s important to understand that personal responsibility is the same thing as internal accountability.
You should always accept personal responsibility for every result, but it’s often easier to blame other people (or events) in your life.
Playing the “blame game” can derail your efforts at accountability because you’ll struggle with understanding the relationship between taking massive action and getting results.
Instead, you’ll attribute every positive result to good luck and characterize every negative result as something that just happened to you.
When you make the decision to be accountable, it’s essential that you let go of these negative thoughts and accept the fact that your future is in your hands.
There is no need to go through life making decisions based on negative events from the past.
When the next obstacle comes along, don’t let it stop you. Instead, focus on staying positive and taking action to move forward.
Albert Einstein gave us a powerful quote to consider:
“Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will – his personal responsibility.” - Albert Einstein
When you take full responsibility for everything in your life, an amazing thing happens. You stop worrying about every event and start consistently asking yourself a simple but important question:
“What can I do right now to make progress on this goal?”
You don’t have to worry about answering this question right away. Later on, I’ll show you how the different types of accountability can help you make serious progress toward any of your goals.
Before we talk about that, let’s dive into the benefits of working with an accountability partner and cover why this strategy should become an important part of your personal development.
The Accountability Benefits (and Drawbacks)
Before we get started with the process of finding an accountability partner, let’s go over the benefits and drawbacks of forming this type of accountability partnership.
Accountability Partner Benefits:
The main benefit of having an accountability partner is having ample time to talk about your specific issues. Mastermind groups are helpful, but each member has a limited amount of time to discuss challenges or share insights.
And an accountability partner isn’t just useful for business owners. You can work with an accountability partner in a variety of areas.
Think of it this way—if you meet someone for a workout every single week, then you already have the foundation of a great accountability partner partnership.
That said, an accountability partnership isn’t always perfect. In fact, here a few disadvantages to this type of relationship.
Accountability Partner Disadvantages:
Working with an accountability partner is a great option if you need constant feedback on your achieving your goals. If you’re interested in finding someone to partner with, I’ll show you how to get started in the next section.
How to Get Started with an Accountability Partner
The best accountability partner arrangement is one where you meet on a regular basis (either every day or every week) and talk about your progress toward a major life goal. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation—I recommend five minutes daily or 30 minutes weekly. It doesn’t even have to be someone you’re already friends with. In fact, it could be someone you’ve just met online.
During a session, you help each other stay on track toward your individual goals. Both of you have a chance to walk about recent wins, review current challenges and come up with strategies to implement before your next conversation.
To get started, here is a five-step action plan.
Step 1: Search for the right person.
You can find an accountability partner online or in person. Your search would be similar to the way you would look for a virtual or local community. Go to local meetups, join topic-related forums, talk to members of your online groups and reach out to friends who are interested in this type of partnership.
If you get stuck, you can leverage the following online (and offline) resources to find an accountability partner.
You’d be surprised that once you make that commitment to work with an accountability partner that it’s not too hard to find a bunch of potential candidates.
Step 2: Be open to someone with a different background.
Your buddy shouldn’t be your exact clone. In fact, you should look for a person who has a similar level of success, but also has strengths and weaknesses that differ from yours.
For instance, Tom (my accountability partner) is a writer who has achieved success by creating a paid blog service that has scaled into a business that specializes in creating content for WordPress sites.
We both use writing as our primary way to generate revenue, yet our business models are completely different. That means we each bring a unique perspective to the relationship. We use our perspectives to ping ideas off one another and suggest ideas the other person might not have considered.
To find the right accountability partner, I recommend looking for someone who is at (or slightly above) your current level of success. You want to challenge one another, not create an arrangement where one person is coaching the other. I have been on both sides of this situation, and the relationship always fails because one person feels like they’re not getting value for their time.
Step 3: Approach your favorite candidate.
When you find someone who seems like an ideal accountability partner, ask if s/he is interested in this type of meeting. Explain the concept, outline the mutual benefits of the commitment and simply ask if she is interested.
If either one of you is uncomfortable jumping right into “accountability partner status,” have an initial conversation and then make a decision after you’ve had a chance to get to know each other.
Step 4: Pick a day, time and type of meeting.
An accountability partner meeting can be structured in a variety of ways. Some people meet in person, on the phone or via Skype, while others send updates through email, text or social media networks. The platform doesn’t matter as long as you regularly check in with each other and provide mutual accountability.
Furthermore, it’s important to keep a consistent schedule. The two of you should sit down, compare your weekly schedules and find a day/time that works best on a consistent basis.
Sure, there will be times when you have to switch up the meeting time, but it’s important to schedule a time block that becomes a permanent part of your week. When you regularly meet at the same time, your subconscious mind will start to come up with ideas and topics to discuss during your next meeting.
Step 5: Create weekly accountability statements.
You want to make what are known as accountability statements. These are action items you promise to complete before the next meeting. In a way, they’re similar to milestones because they’re small actions that are part of a larger goal.
The best type of accountability statement is one that is related to your primary goal, has a clear outcome and is doable in a specific time frame.
To make the process easy to remember, I suggest using the PACT acronym:
Let’s take a closer look at each element:
Is the goal in the accountability statement achievable?
While it’s okay to aim high and fall short from time to time, your goal should be something realistic that you can complete in the allotted timeframe. If you are trying to write a book, for example, a statement of “I will write 5,000 words during the next week” is an achievable goal if you already average 1,000 words per day.
Can you take action on the goal?
You might be surprised to learn that many people try to set goals they have little control over.
For instance, “I will get out and do something that matters” is not an achievable goal because it doesn’t have a clear set of actions attached. It doesn’t say how you will achieve the goal.
This is a far better statement: “I do something that completes an item on my, "Bucket List” This statement is specific. It has a concrete goal. An end in site. And it has a limited number of avenues you can pursue. You have complete control over the outcome. You either reach your goal or you don’t.
Your accountability statement should be clear and without equivocation. It shouldn’t include a series of exceptions or reasons you can’t achieve the goal. The statement should always be as simple and direct as possible.
For instance, it is “I will write 5,000 words this week,” not “I will write 5,000 words this week unless I get super busy or have to answer a bunch of emails.”
When forming accountability statements, you should always consider potential obstacles and have a plan for dealing with them. Adjust your accountability statements according to what you think might prevent you from succeeding.
If you know the upcoming week will be filled with personal obligations, all you have to do is adjust your milestone accordingly. “I will write 3,000 words this week” is a good example.
There should be a clear deadline for your commitment. In most cases, the deadline will be the date of your next meeting. However, if you both realize there will be a lengthy break before your next session, then go ahead and create a deadline. Agree to email or text each other with the results.
As an example, Tom (my accountability partner) and I meet on a weekly basis (except when one of us is traveling) for about 30 minutes to go over our online businesses where discuss our “wins” from the previous week, talk about current challenges we’re facing and provide accountability statements for what we’ll accomplish in the upcoming week.
Final Thoughts on Accountability Partnerships
When you follow these five steps, you’ll get maximum value from an accountability partner meeting.
Just remember to focus on the challenges you’re both facing, provide honest feedback to the other person and create accountability statements that use the PACT formula.
Do these things on a continuous basis and you can easily break a major goal into a series of doable tasks.
I guarantee that you find an accountability partner, you’ll discover that it’ll become one of your favorite conversations each week. And more importantly, this regular conversation will help you achieve some of your biggest goals.