What’s an Accountability Partner? Definition & How To Be One

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On New Year’s Eve, you make resolutions to meditate day by day, prepare for a race, and browse two books every month. But by February, you’re meditating as soon as per week whereas skipping runs. And unread books are piling up in your shelf. 

Maybe you haven’t lived out that precise state of affairs, however you’ve probably felt the frustration of failing to stay to a dedication. And the truth that you weren’t making the progress you’d hoped for could have demotivated you much more. In these eventualities, it’s not unusual to query the purpose of setting these objectives within the first place and really feel tempted to surrender. 

But there’s actual worth in setting objectives. Whether it’s to be more healthy, much less burdened, or extra educated, all of us have our causes — and so they’re often good ones. The stumbling block? Your inside motivation dips, priorities change, and your objectives appear much less attainable. It’s a standard battle.

Fortunately, extrinsic motivation might help you kick your plans again into gear. Teaming up with an accountability companion can encourage you, push you towards your objectives, and remind you that you simply’re able to change.  

What’s an accountability companion?

An accountability buddy checks in regularly to make sure the particular person they help is on monitor and sticking to their commitments. This particular person could even supply suggestions that can assist you stay motivated on the route to your goals. You can ask a friend or acquaintance to fill this role and offer to reciprocate, pushing the other person to reach their targets, too. 

Picture this: you and a friend are training for a half marathon together. You go on morning runs, stretch, and log your exercise data in a social running app. 

When you’re having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, your buddy sends you a motivational text reminding you how far you’ve come to help you overcome your procrastination. Plus, they’re going to be waiting for you to start their own run, so you need to show up for both of you. 

3 benefits of accountability partnerships

In an age when there’s an app for everything, you might wonder if having an accountability partner is worth the trouble of finding. Why ask a friend for this support when you could just log your miles, meditation minutes, or the pages you’ve read on your phone? 

While motivational and accountability apps can be excellent tools for monitoring progress, you miss out on the interpersonal benefits of working with a partner. Here are three essential perks you can only get from working with an accountability buddy. 


1. Targeted motivation

Motivated people react well in the face of challenges. But you don’t all the time have the vitality or need to push your self — particularly when there’s an impediment in your path. 

However, an accountability companion can recurrently empower you and remind you of the significance of your objectives. This particular person’s job is to encourage you to maintain working even while you’re struggling, and so they tailor their help to you. 

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When coaching for a 5K race, your accountability companion may remind you that while you began, you couldn’t run a mile with out getting winded. And now, jogging three is a breeze for you. This push may simply be sufficient so that you can lace up your sneakers and get on the market. 

Watching your companion make progress may encourage you to understand your accomplishments or push your self more durable. If each you and your pal began your operating journey on the similar level and also you discover them getting sooner and stronger, you could be extra more likely to monitor these similar modifications in your self. And should you really feel your progress is lagging, you may squeeze in an additional jog or two to catch as much as them to keep away from falling behind. 

2. Perspective 

You don’t assume the identical approach as your accountability companion. This particular person could even have completely different causes for wanting the identical objectives as you — or be working towards one thing else totally. And that’s a great factor. 

Perhaps you need to run a race to enhance your cardiovascular well being, however your accountability buddy is doing the race to lift funds for charity. Your pal has completed many of those races, so their bodily situation is sweet, however they don’t love operating. On the opposite hand, you take pleasure in operating, however it’s troublesome for you. Your pal can present perspective on how lengthy you’ll want to coach for, and you’ll assist your buddy uncover components of the expertise to take pleasure in — like being out in nature or listening to a podcast whereas they run.  

3. Community

Social connection, a sense of belonging, and well-being are all linked. Working towards a purpose in a partnership supplies a help system in which you’ll be able to really feel seen — you don’t must rejoice your achievements alone. And your companion may lend an empathetic ear and phrases of encouragement while you hit an impediment. 

Plus, accountability partnerships present alternatives for dialog and reflection. You can talk about your progress, what you take pleasure in concerning the initiative you’ve taken on, and commiserate about what’s been troublesome. 

How to be an accountability companion


In a strong mutual accountability partnership, every particular person feeds off the opposite’s vitality. Even if one companion feels dissatisfied of their progress, they have to help the opposite particular person. And when a pal is celebrating a win, their companion ought to match their pleasure. 

Here are three suggestions for holding up your finish of a supportive partnership.

Be trustworthy

Your accountability companion gained’t all the time monitor effectively towards their purpose, and you need to present trustworthy suggestions as a substitute of falsely recognizing accomplishments they’re not reaching. Your honesty doesn’t must be harsh, however it ought to be direct. You would need the identical remedy out of your companion. 

Suppose you’re each per week from a giant skilled deadline, and your coworker is struggling to start out the duty. Remind the individual that procrastination could negatively affect their career and offer to sit and work beside them until they’re back on track.

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Take your role as an accountability partner seriously. You’ve sought a buddy because you wanted support in reaching a goal you didn’t think you could achieve alone. The same applies for your partner. Provide the kind of consistent support you’d hope to receive. 

Make a check-in calendar to set clear responsibilities. For example, decide to review overall progress every Friday but have a quick chat every morning to air out concerns and celebrate little milestones. 

Be empathetic

When people set a goal, it’s because they desire something they don’t currently have — whether that’s improved physical health, financial wellness, or a different job. And there’s a reason they don’t have what they desire. It could be due to a lack of skills, time, or motivation. 

This makes reaching goals a vulnerable, humbling, and challenging process. You’ll likely experience these sensations when you’re in it, as will your accountability partner. Show empathy by actively listening to the other person when they hit an obstacle or feel their goal is out of reach. Your non-judgemental attitude will encourage your partner to extend the same treatment to you.

How to find an accountability partner


There’s a right and wrong way to find a good accountability partner. 

Say your coworker is a skilled coder, and you’re considering asking them to be your study buddy as you train for a beginner hackathon while they prepare for an expert one. However, while your peer is an inspiration, you realize they won’t provide proper support. They can’t empathize with your experience or join you on a similar training journey. 

To avoid a seemingly sound but ultimately bad fit and find the right person, apply the following rules to your selection process. 

Know what you hope to achieve 

Before seeking an accountability partner, set a SMART goal. This acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. When you use these parameters to set a goal, you define a precise aim you can reasonably reach in the set period. 

Defining a goal helps you envision your route to success and plot action items, allowing you to match with an accountability partner with a parallel aim. Remember, you wouldn’t want to train for a 5K with someone preparing for a marathon, so setting the goal to “run a race” is too vague. 

Instead, start your search for an accountability partner with an aim like, “I want to run a 5K in 35 minutes or less by the end of December to participate in my local New Year’s Day fun run.”

Avoid asking someone too close to you

It’s wise to tread carefully when considering extremely close friends or people with whom you share a deep bond as accountability partners. The intimacy of these relationships might actually hinder your progress. 

People who care deeply for you may withhold honest, constructive feedback, fearing it could hurt you or strain the relationship. But what you need in an accountability partner is someone who can offer candid insights and share comparable experiences.

Other dynamics of close relationships could also muddle your journey. Someone who’s witnessed your past struggles may not offer the firm motivation you need now. Or, even though they genuinely care about your well-being, they might not grasp why you’re aspiring to reach a particular goal. For example, it would be unfair to expect a friend at work who has no interest in graphic design to understand the significance of you completing a design course at a local college.

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Choose someone you can trust 

Your accountability partner doesn’t need to be your best friend, but you should choose someone you can be vulnerable with. Close colleagues, a friend you made at a book club, and other trustworthy acquaintances are great picks. 

Matching with an accountability partner may happen naturally. In the break room, you could overhear a coworker mentioning that they want to learn how to leverage AI to build presentations, and you could approach them expressing your similar interest. This is the perfect “in” for asking this person to be your accountability buddy. 

But if you don’t find someone organically, you could try sending the team a Slack message or spreading the word in your professional social circles. Say something like, “I’d like to take an AI upskilling course and would like to participate alongside an accountability partner. Would anyone like to give and receive support in this process?”

The importance of partnership goal-setting 


When you set goals for yourself, you aren’t thinking about how another person may interpret or take steps toward them. Even if you have a similar goal to your accountability partner, their motivations and approach will differ. 

To ensure a productive accountability relationship, clearly present your goal to your accountability partner and listen attentively as they explain theirs. Then, work together to create action items and a calendar for reaching the goals. 

You could decide which days you’ll run together, how you plan to ramp up your mileage, and what you’ll do to recover on your off days (like stretching or yoga). Set milestones to celebrate, too, like when one of you runs your fastest mile or completes a three-mile streak. 

It’s also wise to discuss how you like to receive and give encouragement. Perhaps your partner responds best to brief written messages throughout the day, and you prefer an early morning motivational phone call. 

The same logic applies to feedback. Your buddy may request that you meet up once a week for organized feedback sessions while you’re happy to receive commentary as it comes up.

Reaching personal goals doesn’t have to be a solo journey

Getting in touch with your inner motivations and taking steps toward self-improvement is a very personal experience. But once you set clear goals, you can really benefit from seeking support. 

Accountability partners are a great option. They make reaching goals more enjoyable, help keep your chin up, and celebrate alongside you. 

Coaches, help teams, and golf equipment are additionally choices —anybody you are feeling comfy opening as much as about your insecurities and setbacks might be a superb supply of vitality and motivation en path to your objectives. 

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