If you're looking for a way to set and achieve clear, precise goals for work, school or your personal life without falling into the trap of procrastination, then accountability is what you need. Having someone tracking your actions will ensure you do not deviate from your path, get discouraged, or abandon your goals altogether.
And if you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll probably already know what an accountability partner is-- someone who helps their partner set goals for work, fitness, good habits or whatever else has been agreed upon – and holds them accountable to these goals. A good accountability partner checks in or participates in meetings to review progress on the goals and exchange notes on whether things are going as scheduled, and if there's any space to optimize or make things more efficient. Some important parts of being a good accountability partner are calling out any slack when you see it and providing encouragement and support when needed.
Remember – a partnership goes both ways. An accountability partnership – no matter what you set it up for – requires commitment, trust, and a willingness to accept opinions and to work on them.
So if you're ready to commit to this strategy to help yourself and others achieve their goals, learn how to be the best accountability partner your partner can find!
How You Can Be a Good Accountability Partner – Setting Up Accountability Partnerships
If you have already found your accountability partner, you need to make sure you start working with the right strategy, so you can help your friend to the maximum extent. Here are some key points to keep in mind as you get going:
Identify your action plan (with patience! Let them talk!)
It's more than likely that you and your accountability partner would not have a game plan ready, even if you have a general idea of what your goal is and where you need help with it. So, sit together to discuss how to get started -- bounce ideas on what your specific goals should be, how you would break them into measurable tasks and outcomes and where will you need to be held accountable. This will make sure you both start off on the right foot and with the right person.
One of the most important things to remember while making your plan together is to be non-judgemental and encouraging with your partner. Be patient, let them talk, and understand what their real goal is. Hold off on offering feedback till you fully understand their priorities. Your job at this point is to provide a judgment-free space for them to brainstorm, and plan their goals.
Set SMART goals together, and make sure your partner's goals are SMART
Once you know what your big goals are, it's important to break them into measurable milestones that you and your partner can keep track of. So try to decide on SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic/Relevant, Timebound) goals for each other.
For example, both of you are trying to create or start up a new business of your own;
Your goal: To complete my paperwork
Your SMART goal: File all legal paperwork within three weeks by completing two forms a day.
Your partner's goal: To find an office space
Your partner's SMART goal: To find an office space within one month by contacting a realtor and seeing at least three spaces a week.
At this point, a good accountability partner would make sure their partner's goals are SMART, to maximize chances of success. Nudge your partner in the right direction where their goal is too broad or too vague. You can offer feedback and suggestions if your partner is comfortable with that.
Schedule regular check-ins. No flakiness!
Once you've started working on your goals, stay in touch with your partner while you work on them. Make sure you schedule a meeting or communication as consistently as possible, even speak outside of these if necessary.
At this point, the most important thing is to not be flaky! Be as committed as possible, and your partner should reciprocate the same commitment. But a good accountability partner starts the process by themselves. If you've committed to meeting every week, show up! Don't make excuses! Your accountability partner will be inspired by your efforts to do better themselves.
Iterate the accountability relationship (without blaming your partner)
As your accountability relationship evolves, make sure you're reviewing all the amazing things that have happened since it started, and the things that need to be worked upon.
At this point, remember to be honest, but also kind. Most partnerships are an ongoing, evolving relationship. Don't expect perfection right off the bat, and don't hold yourself or your partner to such unrealistic standards! Instead, think through everything that needs to be improved, how your system needs to be tweaked. When you're suggesting these improvements to your accountability partner, make sure to do so in a way that does not apportion blame. Accountability is not a blame game!
Tips for maintaining a good accountability partnership
Maintaining an accountability partnership is all about putting in the work and commitment. Here's how you make sure you're going about this the right way:
Your partner has similar goals
Now the goals don't have to be exactly the same, but on a similar wavelength so it's more efficient to check in with each other and measure progress. If your goal is a work project but your partner wants to lose weight, you may not exactly be able to understand how to measure each other's success or provide the essential push where it is needed.
You are committed to communication
Consistency is key, and you need to make sure the channel of communication is always open and reciprocated. Don't cancel meetings or leave your partner hanging frequently, and make the effort to reach out even if they do not update you.
You are on top of deadlines and reminders
Make sure you've noted down your and your partner's timelines and milestones. Provide reminders of deadlines when they come up, and leave little room for pushing or slacking on progress reports.
You are honest, empathetic, and encouraging
Feedback can be critical, but should not invite only negative thoughts. Be firm with your partner but provide the words of encouragement that will motivate them to move forward, rather than dwelling on setbacks or failures.
Same way, your partnership should be a safe space for your partner to share their struggles and failures, so you can both work to overcome them together.
You are perceptive to feedback
Just as you provide opinions and advice, you should be able to take them in with positivity. Remember, your accountability partner wants the best for you, so any comment and suggestion should be considered constructively to bring in improvement.
You get along with your partner
You may not have to be besties, but building a friendly relationship outside of check-ins will help both of you feel comfortable and confident in working together and fully accepting each other's opinions, ideas, and comments.
So now you know how to be an accountability partner and help others and yourself reach your goals!
If you're still looking for an accountability partner
Haven't found the right person yet? No problem! Here's how you go about looking for your right accountability partner:
- As a student or working professional, you'll be surrounded by people with similar goals. So try and build a rapport with a classmate or colleague who may be genuinely interested in developing a system to check the work and share notes. Scouring through the internet to find accountability partners in the making on social media platforms like Facebook and Reddit, blogs and other websites can also be a good strategy.
- Accountability partner apps might prove to be a good starting point.
- Coworking services like Focusmate or Caveday can help!
- Ask a family member or friend - Mixing personal and professional relationships is not a good idea in most cases, because you don't want the dynamics of one equation to spill over into the other. But if you have a loved one you trust, ask them to keep you accountable.
We've gone way more into detail in our article on how to find an accountability partner, so be sure to check that out!
Also, just in case you feel you're not quite ready to be an accountability partner – but just want to enjoy the real benefits having an accountability partner can bring you – why not try Boss as a Service?
How BaaS works as an accountability partner
Boss as a Service is an accountability partner service with real bosses ready to help you meet all your goals. We can help you set SMART tasks, send daily reminders and check-ins, and make sure you are motivated to keep your progress consistent.
Being an accountability partner is a real commitment. But if you have the right person and pledge to go through the partnership with sincerity, you can help yourself and others!