Accountability Partners

I’m a lucky woman: When I seriously wrote down my goals for the first time, I had friends helping me through the process. And once I had defined goals, the same friends held me accountable to achieving them.

People have long said that writing down your goals increases your chances of realizing your plans. I’d add that accountability partners have proved equally essential to my achievement.

Accountability partners know what you want to accomplish and hold your feet to the fire on getting it done. They ask you about how you plan to progress toward goal. When forward movement stalls, they ask why. They help you work through obstacles. And you do the same for them.

What makes an ideal accountability partner?

  • Implicit trust. You need to spill your guts about what you really want. Your accountability partner shouldn’t laugh or dismiss your goals. Sure, he may ask some hard questions, but not in an overly critical or judgmental way.
  • Not your parents, spouses, or siblings. Your spouse asking about progress in your fitness goals will make you feel unattractive. Your sister asking about career targets brings up old rivalries. Your parents asking you about, well, anything harks back to childhood nagging. Family has too many undercurrents.
  • Matching styles. Drill sergeants don’t work for me. (“Boot camp”-style workouts? Pass.) Yet you might need someone aggressive to keep you on track and motivated.
  • Share and share alike. Your accountability partner needs defined goals as well and should look to you as an accountability partner in return. If he doesn’t have defined goals, he won’t understand their importance. And when both people spill their goal guts, the relationship is mutual—not one sided.

You can have many accountability partners. I have one friend I meet to write—we keep each other on track with targets and help each other get over speedbumps. Another friend and I meet every four to six weeks to share business-goals progress and we annually define these goals together. Accountability partners don't have to be one-size-fits-all.

Do you have accountability partners? Should you?

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Reader Comments (4)

I have the greatest writing accountability partner! She gives me the grace I need when life is just too crazy for me to focus, but then she's wise enough to know when I am just dragging my feet! She rocks and I am so very grateful for her friendship and accountability. I can't wait to get together with her again. She makes even the tough parts of writing fun!

May 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Can everyone tell the spectacular Sarah is my writing accountability partner? :D We're a mutual fan club, and I LOVE it.

What you readers need to know about Sarah is that her meeting me before dawn to write was essential in getting me back on track with my novel after I hit a colossal slump and despaired that I'd ever get it done, that the story was any good, that I could write in the long form. Having her as an accountability partner was ABSOLUTELY key to me moving forward with my goals.

See! If you don't have accountability partners, you stall.

Love you, Sarah!

May 1, 2013 | Registered CommenterLeslie Farnsworth

I agree that you need different accountability partners for different aspects of your life. One thing I find is that some people better understand your situation as far as one part of your life but may be totally clueless about another part of your life.

Part of that is just natural. Some of your goals may only make sense to a person that's in a similar situation and trying to set these goals with a person not involved in that part of your life sometimes won't work.

You need an "expert" that can look at these goals and say "Why aren't you living up to them?" or be honest and say "This is way too high a standard. Why not try this instead?"

Picking the right partner is the first and sometimes the most important step in this process.

May 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Pora

Absolutely, Will! And I'm often surprised, in seeking someone to hold me accountable on something, how often I encounter people who don't have any goals whatsoever. I suppose that's more common than I'd realized--although highly unfortunate.

May 5, 2013 | Registered CommenterLeslie Farnsworth

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