When you tell your boss your job goals, she’s going to check back and see how you’re doing.
If you commit to an exercise plan with your personal trainer, he’ll ask how you did last week.
We even let children hold us responsible: “Daddy, you promised we could go to the zoo today!”
This is accountability. We are all accustomed to it. This idea of being held responsible reminds us that we have made a promise to someone. We have set an objective, and we expect the other party to remind us of our commitment.
So what about you?
Since the above examples are so acceptable to us, why wouldn’t we employ the same level of accountability when it comes to achieving our own vision? Why wouldn’t we ask an outside influence to hold us responsible (to ourselves) for our personal plans?
Think about establishing your own “boss” for these goals. I call this person (or people) our accountability partner(s).
I used to tell myself that I really wanted to quit smoking. But I didn’t want anyone checking my progress on a regular basis. I wanted to believe that I was gaining on my goal. Outside input might have shattered that illusion.
But once I finally invited other people to hold me accountable, I actually did quit smoking. And my partners were a major factor in my success.
Share Your Picture & Your Plan
To make accountability partnering work well, start by writing down your positive vision of the problem solved.
Then, select 1 – 3 accountability partners.
When you invite them to hold you responsible for your goal, show your accountability partners this blog post as well as your written vision.
And be sure to discuss how you’d like them to check in: a quick call, a text, an e-mail, a note, whatever works for you both.
When my father was in his fifties, he used to say, “Son, if you ever see me behaving like that when I’m older, please tell me. I don’t want to do that.”
He had the right idea. But 20 years later, when I started calling him out on the stuff he’d hoped to avoid, he got angry and rejected the input. So eventually, I stopped holding him accountable.
To avoid this, when my wife and I asked our daughters to be our accountability partners, we got specific: we gave them a detailed letter (which I’d be happy to share upon request) outlining what we do and don’t want to do as we age.
This way, when they call us to task, they can show us the letter, and we can’t blame them for the input.
If you’ve worked with me and used this tool before, what methods have you found most successful?
Please share your own examples in the comments below or by contacting me directly. I always love to hear about accountability in action.
Bill – Thanks for the specific application tools. This really helps me put your insight in to practice, rather than just in to awareness. Working with you on creating our vision over the past year has remarkably helped with our purpose and direction in life. Thanks for holding us accountable to being purposeful! I also now have a triathlon coach (a.k.a. accountability partner). After reading this, I’ll be thinking of others to partner with holding me accountable to those athletic goals as well.
Great example, Kyle. I’m glad this triggered ideas for you expanding the application.