The Secret Weapon to Achieving Your Goals: The Accountability Partner

I'll let you in on a little secret—I've been known to procrastinate from time to time. Okay, it's not that big of a secret. I mean, I did write a whole blog post about it. But still. It's a thing.

If always left to my own devices, I might just procrastinate my day away, accomplishing very little in the way of my goals. Luckily for me, I’ve got a secret weapon in my back pocket: an accountability partner.

What is an accountability partner? Officially, it’s a person who person who holds you accountable when trying to keep a commitment. Unofficially, it’s the difference between accidentally watching an entire season of House of Cards on Netflix and getting off the couch and training for the 5K you optimistically signed up for. Studies show that those who wrote down their goals, formulated an action plan to reach these goals, and sent weekly progress reports on their action commitments to a friend accomplished significantly more than those that didn’t. How much more? One study proved that 76% percent of participants with accountability partners accomplished their goals, as opposed to 43% for the group with no accountability.

Now that we know why we need one, let’s look at some tips to choosing the right accountability partner for you:

  • Decide what you want out of an accountability partner. Do you want a hands-on or hands-off partner? Maybe you know what you need to do, you just have trouble actually doing it. Or, maybe you need some guidance about what steps to take to achieve your goals. Some people have partners that just ask them a simple “did you do it?” while others choose partners that can mentor them in their chosen area. Think about what you actually need from your partner that will help you get ‘er done.
  • Choose someone able to devote time to holding you accountable. You may have the perfect person in mind, but if that person is too busy, it’s the same as having no partner at all. Depending on what you need from a partner, you may not be asking for much. However, if your partner is juggling several things, even the smallest commitment can be hard to keep. Make sure you choose someone that is able, and willing, to fit your accountability needs in their schedule.
  • Pick someone who will hold you responsible for your actions. Let’s be honest, it’s easy to let ourselves down. Part of the reason is that we’re able to downplay or excuse our inaction. A good accountability partner will not accept your excuses and will have no problem calling your bluff. Think of the tough love given from a coach or favorite teacher that you never wanted to disappoint. You should respect your accountability partner’s good opinion enough not to want to lose it.
  • Cheerleaders are great, but challengers are better. While it’s always nice to get an A for effort, you don’t want your accountability partner congratulating you for earning a participation trophy (sorry, Mom.) Choose someone who will encourage you to reach a little higher in your goals than you might think you can, someone who really helps you to stretch. A good accountability partner, for instance, will suggest you try to reach for your department’s sales record instead of merely reaching your quota for the month.
  • You don’t have to have just one! Although we’ve been speaking today about a singular accountability partner, there can be as many as you’d like. Often, people choose groups of people to be their accountability partners as well as a sole person (think of situations such as Alcoholics Anonymous, where people speak both to a group and a personal sponsor). Your accountability partner(s) can be a friend, a group you belong to, a blog, or your Twitter followers—whatever floats your boat. Just make sure they’re actually keeping you accountable!

Once you have your accountability partner, make it official! Click the button to get your free accountability partner agreement template to make sure everyone is on the same page.

If you’re anything like me (or the rest of the world, really), an accountability partner can truly make the difference when reaching for those goals. Find yours in The Glow Getter's private Facebook group!