Have you ever found yourself in a slump? Life is stale. Your creativity feels similar to a dry creek. There are things you want to do but can’t seem to find the motivation. If this is where you stand, it may be time to find an Accountability Partner.
Often, having an Accountability Partner is something you would do from a professional standpoint. However, when learning to live a Simple Life, a personal Accountability Partner still comes in handy. The difference is it is on a more personal level.
You have heard John Dunne’s quote ‘No man is an island’. Basically, he is saying that we can’t always do everything alone. Everyone needs to depend on others from time to time. We often need help.
And when we embark on a new life journey, such as shifting to living a Simple Life, it helps to have someone out there who is like-minded and interested in taking their own Simple Life journey to the next step. It is comforting to know they are there to help, motivate, offer encouragement and support, and give us a push when needed.
What is an Accountability Partner?
To understand what an accountability partner is, you must first know how to define Accountability. According to Dictionary.com, to be accountable means to be “subject to the obligation to report, explain, or justify something; responsible; answerable; capable of being explained; explicable; explainable.
It follows suit that accountability is “the state of being accountable, liable, or answerable.”
An accountability partner is someone who is on a similar journey. This person can be a friend, family member, or even a professional counterpart.
How will an Accountability Partner Help?
An Accountability Partner is someone who will help you brainstorm ideas, create goals and follow through with them. They will be there when the going gets tough. And they will hold you accountable. A good Accountability Partner won’t let you get away with excuses and laziness. Instead, they are there to ‘hold your feet to the fire’.
Some other ways an Accountability Partner can help you along your journey are through:
- Finding a way around obstacles
- Playing the game of Devil’s Advocate
Who Would Make a Good Accountability Partner?
First and foremost, the best person to join forces with as an Accountability Partner is one who has similar goals. You want someone you get along well with, as you will be spending quite a bit of time with them. And you need someone who is willing to work with you, as there can be quite a bit of give and take in this type of partnership.
There are two schools of thought on who would make the best Accountability partner:
1. Someone who has similar interests and goals. When it comes to having and being an Accountability partner, it helps to have someone who fully understands your goals. They have knowledge of the steps you want to take in your journey, and have either already traversed that road, or is willing to help you research what it will take.
This person can help you through the pitfalls and around the obstacles with their personal experience. They may also be interested in achieving the same goal. If this is the case, you can work together to achieve it.
2. Someone who has completely different interests and goals. This person can be a bit more difficult to work with, but it isn’t impossible. Their goals and interests may be opposite of yours, so it can create a bit of misunderstanding, uncertainty, and inability to help.
On the flip side of this coin, someone who has an opposite approach to life may be better at helping you play Devil’s Advocate and will more quickly help you see pitfalls and obstacles. They will also bring a different viewpoint to the table more often than not, which can help you think through your objectives more clearly.
Combining the Two
Not everyone has the same goals, interests, or life objectives. Although some may be similar, there is enough difference to keep your Accountability meetings interesting. You gain the advantage of that different viewpoint, but still keep the basic understanding of WHY you have set certain goals intact.
Should You Have an Accountability Group?
To be the most productive on a personal level, you should only have one Accountability Partner. Having more than one can get confusing. It can also get complicated trying to sift through the myriad of opinions and thoughts.
However, instead of considering this group as Accountability Partners, consider setting up a ‘Simple Life Support Group’. This would be a team of other folks who want to live a Simple Life and need encouragement and support. It is also a great way to swap ideas, get feedback, and to know there are others who share the same goals.
For blogging, I have both. Annie is my Accountability Partner, but I am also a member of a Mastermind Group. Annie and I work on specifics and details. The Mastermind Group is primarily for an overall view of blogging, as well as working together on collaborations and more.
Why Should You Have an Accountability Partner
To help you better understand the benefits of having an Accountability Partner, this example shared by the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education® may help:
“The researchers found that individuals have the following probabilities of completing a goal by taking these actions:
- Having an idea or goal: 10% likely to complete the goal
- Consciously deciding that you will do it: 25%
- Deciding when you will do it: 40%
- Planning how to do it: 50%
- Committing to someone that you will do it: 65%
- Having a specific accountability appointment with someone you’ve committed to: 95%”
Having a goal in mind is great. It’s the first step to being successful in any endeavor. But when it comes to follow through, many of us give up almost before we finish writing out the goal. And our excuses for that are many:
- It’s going to be too difficult
- It’s going to take too much time
- There isn’t enough money to pursue it
- Oh! I forgot! I’m already busy that day…
(Yep. That particular ‘day’ is booked on my calendar, too. In fact, I think it is overbooked by about 106 hours…)
When you find an Accountability Partner that is a good fit, your chances of success increase greatly. It keeps us from feeling we are on this road alone. They offer encouragement and support when the road gets rough and are right beside you when you reach your destination. In fact, they will probably be the one to brings the confetti, balloons, and cake!
Your First Accountability Meeting
Once you have determined who your Accountability Partner will be, it’s time to set the first meeting. Come prepared with a notebook and pen to keep notes.
This can be just about anywhere. The first consideration is that it be somewhere quiet where you can talk and plan. This can be in your home, a coffee shop, park, or even a library. Wherever it is, it needs to have easy access for both of you. It also needs to be quiet, so you can think, talk, and even laugh out loud if necessary.
You can also create a more relaxed environment and schedule the meeting during Afternoon Tea. This will provide a quiet space without time limits (a public place may require you to keep your meeting shorter). It is also private, and your discussions can be as personal as necessary, with little fear of being overheard.
Creating an Agenda
One of the biggest tendencies we have when meeting with a friend or family member is to chat. We want to catch up, laugh together, discuss the latest project, and just have fun.
An Accountability meeting doesn’t mean you can’t. However, you need to keep it to a minimum. This meeting should be dedicated to working on plans, goals, and ideas.
First you need to determine a time frame. For the most productive meeting, you need at least 45 minutes to an hour. It can be longer if you are working on a big goal, project, or brainstorming ideas.
Each person will need time to talk. At best, you will both be allotted the same amount of time. However, one of you may be in good shape, and only need feedback on one or two things. The other may be at the beginning of an idea or project and need more time.
Your initial meeting should be dedicated to planning out future Accountability meetings. In it you will determine a date, time and place. From there, you will discuss the objectives and what you expect to get out of the meetings. You will also make out your first list of Things to Accomplish, with a deadline for each item on the list.
Other than the initial meeting, each person should walk away with a list of things that will be accomplished that week. Some items may take longer than a week, and that’s okay. During the next meeting, you will do a ‘check in’ and be accountable for progress or be able to clearly state valid reasons why you haven’t.
You may want to set up your agenda similar to this:
Your agenda doesn’t have to be exactly like this. You and your Accountability Partner can discuss how you want to lay it out to work best for you. But having some agenda will work best and help keep your meetings on track.
How Often to Meet
Annie and I meet once a week. There is a tremendous number of changes in the blogging world, and we prefer to keep on top of them. This prevents us from having to go back in and spend hours doing technology and tracking adaptations.
Blogging also requires a tremendous amount of creativity. Our weekly meetings not only help us to stay on track, but we also serve as sounding boards for each other, as well as offer creative ideas for blog posts, podcasts, videos, products, and freebies.
Because of the sheer volume of work and information, we have chosen to meet once a week. Each meeting can last between 20 minutes and 2 hours, depending on what we are working on.
For a Simple Life Accountability meeting, you can choose your meeting frequency. I do recommend at least a once-a-week check in, if not a full meeting. This helps to keep you motivated and moving forward.
What I DO NOT recommend is having meetings on a monthly basis only. If there are time constraints for either person, once a month can be okay. But be sure you still check in with each other at least once a week.
I also don’t recommend having them more often than once a week. You need time to complete the tasks on your List of Things to Do. Some may be quick, but others may take time, effort, and considerable thought to make the finished project successful.
Regardless of whether it is weekly or monthly, do schedule at least a phone call later in the week to check on each other. This can be a time to ask how their progress is going, to ask questions, or get/give support and encouragement.
An Accountability Partner can turn into one of the greatest assets and relationships you can have. Over a period of time, you will begin to know your Accountability Partner on a deeper, more personal level. You will discover their abilities, likes, and dislikes.
There will be times you are better able to read between the lines, and determine if something is a true weakness, a lack of interest (regardless of what they say), or if the issue is more of a Shiny Object Syndrome to prevent them from working on the more difficult things life has a way of tossing in the mix.
What you are doing is creating a deeper bond with someone who has like-minded goals. With a stronger bond also comes the ability cause hurt feelings more easily. No one ever wants to feel as if they are a disappointment or can’t measure up. As within any relationship, always be respectful, understanding, and compassionate.
Remember there is a difference between Critiquing and Criticism. To critique something is to “evaluate (a theory or practice) in a detailed and analytical way.” Criticism can be harsh: “the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.”
When offering a differing viewpoint, be sure you are critiquing, not criticizing. This can be done by carefully choosing your words. It may also help to interpret any critiquing as a game of Devil’s Advocate. This is when you offer a completely opposite (and often negative) viewpoint in order to determine the true strength of the opposing view. Often this is also considered a game of ‘What If’s’, or ‘If This Then That’ (ITTT).
Regardless of whether it is a critique or a criticism, it can still hurt to think your ideas don’t measure up. One thing you may want to learn is how to not take it personally. Critiquing your goals, ideas, and thoughts are not a direct hit to you personally. It just means either your idea probably won’t fly, or it needs more work.
No matter what you call it, it helps to think ahead of what an issue in a plan could possibly be so you will better be able to avoid or overcome the obstacle when you get to it.
If You Are Ready to Move Forward in your Simple Life
Shifting lifestyles can be intimidating. You may not be happy with the one you have, but at least it’s comfortable. If you think a Simple Life may be a better fit, then find out more in the post Simple Life Assessment – Moving from a Good to a Great Life (or click the image above!)
If you do know you are ready, keep in mind. Shifting your lifestyle from hectic, busy, and overwhelming to one that is simple, quiet, and fulfilling is a great choice to make. But with any changes you make in life, it can come with uncertainty, new lessons learned, and a twinge of fear.
Instead of taking a step back, move forward with determination. Find an Accountability Partner, and help each other overcome the obstacles, share in the joy, and find encouragement to take the next step.