Smash your goals by finding an accountability partner

It took me a long time to realise this. Most people love peak time.
Catch a train when it’s more expensive. Go to the cinema when it’s packed. Wait in line at the restaurant on a Friday night. Spend half an hour stuck in traffic in the morning. Take a lunch break when queues are the longest.
What’s not to love?

Sure, most people might moan about it, but secretly they love peak time.

Peak time in antarticaA queue outside a popular restaurant in Antartica.

Think about it. If no one loved peak time so much, there would be no peak time.

Yes, you can tell yourself that “you have no choice”, but we both know that isn’t true. Go to a restaurant on a Tuesday. Take an earlier train, and spend an hour investing in yourself from the coffee shop outside of the office. Buy your lunch in the morning (it’s cold anyway), and then take a break later when no one’s around. Just let your imagination run free.

So why is peak time so popular?
That’s exactly why: because it’s so popular.
As humans, we tend to follow the crowd. It doesn’t matter how rebellious or independent you feel: we all do it. We are highly tribal animals, trying to fit in all the time. So we tend to follow what other people are doing. Especially if many people are doing the same thing. This phenomenon even has a name in social psychology: social proof.

Lots of experiments have been run about this, some particularly funny.
In one, researchers showed to a group of people three lines and asked which was the shortest: when the majority of the group indicated the wrong line, the experimental subject (unaware that the rest of the group was actually cooperating with the experimenter) would also give the wrong answer in order to fit in.
In another experiment, a group of people started to look up at the empty sky for 60 seconds. The larger the initial group was, the more passing pedestrians stopped to gaze at the empty sky, up to 80% of them. In the end, the experiment had to be stopped because the group got so large that it started blocking car traffic.

Hilarious, until you remember you could easily be one of those people, any day.
Actually, we all are, every day.

This is why it’s important to surround yourself with people that not only accept you for who you are, but also support your plans for who you want to be. Since we tend to fit in with the majority, we need other people to remind us it’s ok to find our own path.
When everyone else goes with the default choice, they remind you it’s ok not to. When everybody else chooses peak time, they show you it’s ok to make a different choice.

The 6 Accountability partner superpowers

That’s why having an accountability partner makes such a big difference: you can finally share your goals with someone else, regularly check-in on each other’s progress, but also see that you’re not the only one working hard to achieve your personal objectives, while everyone else is eating a greasy takeaway in front of Netflix every day.

Here are the 6 massive advantages of having an accountability buddy.

1. Share your goals with someone involved

Sharing your goals isn’t easy.
On one hand, you may feel like you don’t want to be judged or seen like you’re talking the talk before being able to show any concrete results. And that’s good.
On the other, research has shown how talking about your goals publicly reduces your likelihood of achieving them.

Because they’re involved in your journey and ultimately your success, you can open up and share your personal objectives, without worrying about judgement: you’re both working towards something.

2. Check in on progress

This is important: it’s not enough to just tell each other “one day I’ll be a Hollywood actor” (a terrible goal, by the way), you must agree on regular check-in sessions to review your progress. You can do this on the phone, email, face-to-face, using a carrier pidgeon…it really doesn’t matter, as long as you do it!
Set regular, smaller goals, and then make sure you share the results, small successes, and obstacles with each other.

3. Celebrate achievements

Sometimes you work hard, get a small win and…you have no one to share it with. No one else would understand why it’s important to you, or how much effort it took you to get there. Your accountability buddy will have seen the full picture, and understand why any small win is important to you. At the same time, seeing the other person achieving their milestone, it’s a great motivator to do the same.

4. Talk challenges through

Similarly to achievements, sometimes challenges can be pretty lonely too. When you don’t have anyone else to talk to about what’s holding you back, it’s sometimes difficult to process what’s really going on and be able to see it from an impartial perspective. Sharing challenges and achievement will also help with the next point…

5. Share the learning

You don’t have to make all the mistakes: when you share your progress, challenges, and successes with someone else, you are also sharing each other’s insights and tough lessons. Without having to go through it yourself. 

6. Share the journey

In general, having accountability partners turns lone work into team work. Though you’re each working on different objectives, wanting to be a positive and motivating example for the other person is a powerful incentive to setting the right goals, breaking them down, and then working hard to get regular results to celebrate.

wolfpack - accountability buddy

How to find and structure your accountability partnership

To find an accountability buddy, start from someone you already know.
Think of someone who has some personal goals and ambitions, it doesn’t matter how different they are from yours, as long as they have some.

Sometimes we tend to hold back and not share our plans for the future because we don’t want people to judge us. So if you’re not too sure, start a conversation. Make it clear that you are working towards something: you don’t have to give away all the details, but just enough to make yourself vulnerable and make the other person comfortable enough to share. It’s ok to ask them.

Now, once you’ve found someone to share your journey with, you need to structure your sessions.
Like I said, you can do this face-to-face, on the phone, or however you may prefer, but my favourite way is via email.
You can do this either weekly or monthly, but if you do it monthly I recommend checking in every two weeks.

Here’s what to share in your check ins:

  • A honest evaluation of your past goals
  • 2 or 3 goals for the next week / month
  • Your biggest win
  • Your biggest challenge

That’s it. Read each other’s reports and exchange feedback and suggestions.
And if you ever need some support outside of those check ins, don’t be shy. We all like to be reminded we’re not the only ones working towards our vision.

Have you ever shared your goals with someone else? Or not sure who to share them with?
Either way, send me an email and let me know. I love to read your emails and learn about your projects. The more I know, the more likely I am to be able to help in the future.

— Matt


set the right goals