Accountability Buddy – 5 Tips to get the most out of yours.
In this blog I’m going to cover my five tips for getting the most out of your accountability buddy. Your what buddy? I hear you ask, so let me explain. An accountability buddy is someone that you select to be accountable for certain things. Someone who will keep you on track and make sure you achieve all of the things you want to. An accountability buddy can be used for pretty much anything really. You may even be using an accountability buddy already and don’t yet realise that this is what you’re doing.
Think of a hobby, perhaps a sport or a gym session that you undertake regularly. Is there anyone that you do this with? If yes then you’ll realise, perhaps subconsciously, that this ‘buddy’ spurs you on to participate even when you might not really want to. You might think, ‘I’ve had a really hard day, the last thing I want to do is go for a run.’ If you have an accountability buddy then your next thought is likely to be, ‘But I can’t let Jenny down, she’s expecting me to go running.’ So you pull on your training shoes and out you go. You didn’t want to, but knowing you had someone relying on you was the push you needed.
And remember, accountability buddies work together. Maybe Jenny wasn’t feeling like the run but knew that she didn’t want to let you down, so she got out and pounded the streets with you!
Essentially, having an accountability buddy is like having someone watch what we are doing. When we are watched, we automatically make sure we do something to the best of our ability because we don’t want to let down the person watching or have them think that we’re not doing our best.
What do you need help with? This could be anything. If it’s work related then it makes sense to choose an accountability buddy who does a similar role to you. Say you make an agreement to both make sure the other finishes that piece of work, that report, that project, ahead of deadline. It may be sport or fitness, and this is where I have really found an accountability buddy really useful, or it may be health/diet related.
An example. You’ve taken up a sport, say badminton, which you haven’t played for ages. You really enjoy the sport and want to get back into it. To ensure you keep playing, keep improving, keep enjoying, you need an accountability buddy. So you reach out to John, who you used to play badminton with. You mutually agree to support each other, to make sure you stick to an agreed schedule. Once you have an AB, you’ll have someone to answer to, someone to support you and someone you don’t want to let down.
My example is running and my mate Neil. We’ve agreed to meet up for a big run every Saturday. Now just having Neil as an AB means I have to do the little runs in the week so I’m in shape to do the big one on a Saturday, so it really is win-win. So every Saturday we are both accountable for each other and we both know we won’t let the other down. Now there has been some awful times, when the weather’s been lousy, I’ve been feeling out of sorts, but I turn up. And when we run, through the wind and rain, through the pain sometimes, we know we’re doing it to support the other person, and not just ourselves.
Make sure you select the right accountability buddy. You have to think who is the right fit for you and for the thing you want to achieve? It’s no good picking Bob as your badminton accountability buddy if Bob has no interest in badminton and would rather be sat watching TV than doing exercise! You need a common connection, a common aim and a common goal.
You might choose a family member who has the same goal. A word of warning here. Sometimes, unless they’re really committed, focussed and driven, family members can let you off the hook a little too easily. Maybe you’ve missed a day and they say, ‘no problem, we’ll go tomorrow’, and this is fine, but sometimes you need that tough love. Someone who can remind you why you’re doing this, remind you what you want to achieve. Someone who will say, ‘no, we are accountable for each other, that’s the agreement, so we’re going to do this even if you don’t want to.
So really you want to select someone who shares your goals, a like-minded individual who shares the same challenges as you and is as committed as you to make a difference to their self-worth, their self-body and their self-mind.
Set out a daily or weekly plan. For example, I have an AB called Mark and we have set up a daily plan for what we want to achieve. We use a tech tick and WhatsApp. Every time I complete the daily plan I send Mark a tick. When he completes his, he sends me one. This really helps to focus your mind. Because once you receive that tick, you’re reminded that you need to reciprocate and get the job done. When you use this technique you can also keep a tally on how many days you’ve completed. That also really helps you. If you’ve nailed 22 days then you really want to keep that going, get to fifty, one hundred.
If you send a tick but don’t receive one, then it’s time for you to give a little tough love. This happened with myself and Mark. We got up to 22 days and then…Mark, well Mark didn’t send that tick. So I reached out, asked him what happened and he…just didn’t do it. This happens sometimes, even with the best will in the world, things can happen that set you back. So we talked about our 22 days. Should Mark go back to zero and I carry on with 23? No way. We’re partners in this and I’ve known him long enough to say, ‘Well, we’re both back to zero and let’s start again. And yesterday, yesterday we hit Day 30! Sometimes the set-backs spur you on to do better, to not get caught out again. Don’t get me wrong, the 30 days wasn’t easy: there were times when Mark needed help, and times when I needed help. And this is where tip four comes in.
Have a weekly check in with your accountability buddy. Arrange a meeting time each week when you can both discuss what is happening, how you are getting on, where your heads are at with the target. If you can do this you can cut off any problems before they happen. You can remind each other, especially when the going gets tough, what you chose to do for each other and what you know you can achieve if you keep going.
Sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees and modern life always throws something at us; sometimes to keep us on our toes but sometimes to distract us from what is important. These weekly meetings are a focal point of your effort the past week and a chance to help each other stay focussed on the end goal that you both agreed on.
Also, if you’ve scheduled a meeting then you’re going to be more inclined to make sure you’ve carried out your side of the deal. Again, because we don’t like to disappoint people.
I find that it helps if I can see my accountability buddy. Recently we’ve all got used to using technology to contact each other and this is a great way to have a face to face meeting that takes as little (or as much) time as possible. On a normal telephone call it’s easier to hide your feelings, but with a video call you can see everything.
The fifth and final tip is to celebrate; celebrate your achievements and milestones, no matter how small. Got ten ticks? Go celebrate. Got a week of achievement? Go celebrate.
And it’s up to you and your AB how to celebrate. I’m not necessarily advocating celebrating in the, ‘let’s have a pint or a glass of wine’, way (but then again, if you want to, why not!) but seeing the celebration as a chance to get together to honour your achievement. This is a chance for you and your AB to engage with each other. To turn your phones off and ask the important questions. The fact that you’re accountability buddies shows that you each have the same values as to what you think is important. It’s a chance to spend some quality time together and keep your focus and mental movement towards your shared end goal.
If you live miles away from one another then it gets a bit more difficult. Maybe the celebrations are only for the really big achievements. Mark and I live about 100 miles away from each other in England so we’ve agreed to get together quarterly. Our last celebration was at Glastonbury Tor, which is a beautiful and very spiritual place. It was a chance for us to connect our shared values, celebrate our wins, commiserate our losses and most importantly refocus on our shared end goal vision.