We’re off and running in a new year, and you’ve set some goals and dreams.
Is it time for some accountability partners?
Perhaps you’ve vowed to get and stay organized. Or maybe you’ve decided you’re ready to cut out sugar. Maybe you want to exercise consistently.
Are you already wondering if you can keep it up? Or have you already stumbled?
The times I’ve been most successful reaching a big goal, it rarely was because of extraordinary willpower.
Each time, I’ve had someone to whom I was accountable.
What are accountability partners?
Humans are really great at talking ourselves into and out of things. We let our minds take over, for good or bad. Accountability partners can coach us, encourage us, and keep us moving forward. Without them, we may be willing to give up our goals too soon. They can be our willpower when we have none.
These partners come in many forms. A spouse, a close friend, a group of like-minded and similarly focused individuals, and/or someone who you hire, such as a trainer or coach, could serve in these roles.
I’ve had each of these at different times, for different situations. In the past few years, I’ve unofficially formed my own “accountability network.” The people in that network help me stay on track with different aspects of my life.
The gym I belong to isn’t one you walk into whenever and exercise on your own. I’ve been a member of those gyms before, and my resolve would eventually wear off. Locked into a membership, I’d still pay the fee but I wouldn’t go anymore. I developed more guilt than muscles and lost more money than weight. At my current gym, I commit to a session with a personal trainer, but I share that time with others who also get personalized workouts, so the cost is less.
When I first started going there, I said I wanted to start exercising regularly, but my commitment level was so-so. I didn’t know if I’d stick with it long-term since I had never done so in the past. But because someone was expecting me to show up, I did just that, and I started to see results. Seven years later, those workouts are my non-negotiables in my schedule.
Who else can help?
After I started meeting my fitness goals (including not dying during a workout!), I set a few more goals outside of the gym. I had never been a runner, but I started running (because I was chased by lightning.) I found a couple of people to run with, and running became enjoyable. Well, almost. Some days. It’s enjoyable once I’m done.
There have been many days since I started running that I would have not run on my own – too cold, too rainy, too tired, too lazy. But someone was expecting me to run with them, so I did.
The accountability helps me show up, set some goals, and work toward them.
Other partners, including those in a private Facebook group for starting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, keep me intentional about making good choices for myself. We discuss our nutrition, our water intake, our exercise, our mindset, and other components of a healthy life. I am one of the coaches in that group, but I learn a lot from and am motivated by everyone else, too.
Sometimes, my accountability partners don’t even know they’re partners: they’re people and organizations that I follow in my Facebook and Twitter feeds, and they provide inspiration and insight for my journey.
Our mindset is critical to our success, and we are affected by others’ emotions and ideas. Do you ever get down on yourself and your goals by reading some of your friends’ social media posts, or distracted by certain photos? Maybe you have a friend who’s constantly posting pictures of the gorgeous cakes she bakes each weekend, and you’re cutting sugar from your diet. It might be time to hide some of their posts for a while and instead intentionally follow people who have the same focus you want to have.
Filling up your social media feed with encouraging quotes and ideas from those walking the same path can be a big part of your success.
So how can you build an accountability network?
Some people like to go really public with a goal and ask for support and encouragement, perhaps in a Facebook post or an email to friends. Just speaking your goal publicly will tell your own Negative Nelly brain to hush.
Another approach would be to start by looking at the people around you. What do you want to achieve, to be? Think about those you admire and who encourage you. What do they do, or have they done, that you want to do? Can you walk in their footsteps?
Here’s what to look for in a coach or accountability partner:
- Reliable – they are willing to partner with you, keep their commitments to you, and help you stay true to your commitments.
- Relatable – they have gone where you want to go. A coach for a Couch-to-5k program, for example, should be someone who has run some 5ks before! A coach for a healthy lifestyle program should be on that road already and have expertise to offer.
- Responsive – they are honest and open about you, your goals and your process. They should challenge you but not condemn you if you fall short of a goal.
I’ve had instances where I thought someone was going to be a great partner, and it didn’t work out like I had hoped. Be willing to find others to fill that role if the first attempt, or second, or third, falls short. And know that an accountability partnership doesn’t have to be for forever.
It should be the spark that gets you started and encourages you to keep going, overcoming roadblocks and moving forward.
Who can you call or talk to today?
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