“Every excuse I ever heard made perfect sense to the person who made it. ”
I’ve made a lot of commitments to myself in the past in regards to the direction I want to take my life. To be honest, I’ve failed many more times than I’ve succeeded. In all of these experiments to see how far I can push my growth, I’ve found one constant: when you have a person that you need to be accountable to, you are much more likely to stay on course and work harder on your goals.
Let me be clear on one thing. I do not advise that you go around shouting your personal goals from the rooftop. They are called your personal goals for a reason; because they’re personal. In addition, there are prominent thought leaders who postulate that goals should be kept private. Essentially, when you go on talking about your goals in public, you already get the positive feedback from your peers that makes you feel good about yourself, and are less motivated to pursue your goals. That being said, I am a huge proponent of the benefits of an accountability partner.
An accountability partner is someone who you trust to hold you to the standards that you set for yourself.
This is a key point. An accountability partner does not set goals for you. However, they should be the same type of people you discuss your goals with. They help keep you responsible for the goals you set, and help differentiate between legitimate shortcomings, and the lies we tell ourselves to accept straying off the path of our goals.
An accountability partner should be someone who is not afraid to “tell you like it is”. There is no room for sugar coating in the realm of personal growth. I’ve found that one of the benchmarks of a true friend and a person I can count on as an accountability partner is the fact that they can tell me when I’m failing to reach my potential, see through the lies I’m telling myself, and call me out on it. On two different issues this year, Mark and Chris called me out on changes I said I wanted to make, but never followed through on them. After being repeatedly called out and held to the standards I set for myself, I made two significant changes that have paid tremendous dividends to my happiness.
Another benefit of having an accountability partner who is invested in you is the fact that you become motivated to reach your goals. Roy Baumeister, in his book, “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength” talks about willpower acting like a muscle that becomes fatigued, and once it is fatigued, becomes less reliable. However, having an accountability partner acts like a “spotter” in the gym. When the weight becomes too difficult to lift by ourselves, we can rely on the strength of an accountability partner to help us make the right decisions and stay on course, even when they are not there.
So what does an accountability partner look like?
They are judgment free – Face it. You’re going to fail. At least, I hope you are. Failure is a pit stop on the road to progress, so if you’re not failing, you’re not setting your goals high enough. When you do fail, your accountability partner should not judge you, but remind you where you stand in your journey.
They are able to be trusted – Setting goals can be a very personal decision. You should find someone that will accept your new path, support it, and keep it between the two of you.
Spark Your Growth
1. Decide what your goals are
Before you can find an accountability partner, you need to set a goal of what you want to accomplish. Take a few hours, or even days, and clear out your schedule to dedicate time to contemplate your goals, and what path you will need to take to get there.
2. Find an accountability partner
From the guidelines above, find someone who you believe can hold you accountable on the goals you want to accomplish. I recommend being very meticulous in your choice of accountability partner(s). Make sure you can trust them to keep you heading in the right direction.
Find out what goals your partner has, and hold them accountable as well. Accountability partners are incredibly powerful resources to have along the path of improvement. As such, they should be treated with a tremendous amount of gratitude. The best way to do this is to offer to be the same resource for them, as well as others who are looking to improve.