As we approach the end of our first month in this new decade, I keep asking myself am I performing to my best ability? Was I grinding? Did I execute everything that I could have executed during these first 30 days? In these most recent years, I have seen a steady increase in cynical comments as it pertains to the “New Year, New Me” mindset. On one hand, I get it! Some people enter into the new year with the unrealistic belief that January 1st automatically means that their goals and dreams will come true. Creating change in your life is like preparing a home-cooked meal, some ingredients are vital to achieving the ultimate results you desire. If I had to name a few of those ingredients I would argue that the top three are action, consistency, and belief. Most people get the belief ingredient but many lack the consistent action needed to activate that belief. So at the root of it, I understand the thought process behind the New Year critic but is it necessary? Serious question: how does pointing out the consistent mishaps of someone’s attempt to achieve a goal help you? One would think that time would be better served to help that person reach those goals instead of criticizing them for trying.
Now that I got that rant off, I want to address those who are trying to create real change in their lives this year. Regardless of the goal – trying to lose weight, save more money, buy a new house, change your career, repair your marriage – each of these goals needs one thing to be accomplished and that is solid accountability partner(s). There is nothing more important than having someone other than the person in your head (who you rarely listen to) hold you accountable. According to the Webster dictionary, the definition of accountability is an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions. Who in your life is truly obligated to be responsible for your actions? If you think about it that’s a heavy requirement of someone. Essentially, you are asking someone to be responsible for your failure and accomplishments. I feel like the title, an accountability partner is loosely used and given to people similar to the title of a mentor. Unless the individual carrying the title truly understands the role and responsibility, it’s simply a feel-good term that lacks substance.
A solid example to model for what your accountability partner should look like is the Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) program. Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of individuals who share their experiences, strengths, and hopes with each other in an effort to solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. Although I have never participated in the program I have friends and love ones who have and they have been around for years so obviously, it’s working. One of the keys to participants’ success is their sponsorship program. It connects people who have experienced alcoholism and have gotten a better handle on their addiction with those who may be just starting on their journey to recovery. A.A. believes their sponsorship program is beneficial for both parties involved. By helping another person, sponsors will find that they are also helping themselves and strengthening their sobriety as well. Imagine trying to be a sponsor for A.A. but you have never taken a drink or you currently struggle with alcohol in your life? This is why I think we struggle with the goals we set for ourselves. We have not identified an accountability partner competent or experienced enough to ensure we are staying focused on what is important.
Finding a great accountability partner may take work because they might not be in your current social circle. For example, if you are struggling to lose weight but your closest friends are naturally slim or never had the same experiences as you they might not be the best accountability partners. Although they can support you and encourage you, there is a level of empathy they will never be able to give to you. If you are trying to save your marriage, it would be more helpful to speak with someone who has almost lost a marriage but did the work to save it. Taking advice from single friends and/or newlyweds who haven’t had a single disagreement yet is not the smartest thing to do. Your accountability partner(s) should have the willingness, understanding, patience, and time to devote to helping you reach your goals.
I am blessed to have really good friends and family who are always pushing and encouraging me to keep going but I even need a special push to get some things done. My ultimate accountability partners are Keith and Mark. Not only are these guys on my team helping me execute everything I do, but they are also checking in and ensuring that I am on top of every task that I said I wanted to complete. We talk daily, we meet weekly, and we report monthly. Collectively, we have set a standard of excellence in which we must all operate and because of that, we all have seen an increase in our productivity. So before you begin to rethink your goals and your desired accomplishments, I challenge you to reevaluate your current accountability network. Maybe the key to your success is choosing a new accountability partner who can not only empathize with your journey, but they can also visualize it because they too have been there before.
Here are 5 common responsibilities of a true accountability partner:
- Ensures they do everything they can within their boundaries and knowledge to help you stay focused. Even if that means leaving you out when it’s time to turn up.
- Leads by example to execute and perform well in a particular area you struggle within their personal/professional life.
- Encourages you to attend different meetups/events to obtain several viewpoints and interpretations from people striving for the same goal.
- Introduces you to new people who can help you reach your goals.
- Shares books, podcasts, and other information that has helped them throughout their journey.