Why Accountability Partners Are The Secret to Success
“Don’t succumb to peer pressure.”
It’s what our moms told us. It’s what our friends still tell us, somewhat ironically. But what if you could harness the power of peer pressure to further your personal goals? Ambitions can be hard to achieve on your lonesome. But when you involve other people in your motivational strategies, great things can occur.
Statistics from the University of Scranton show that interpersonal strategies increase the chances of keeping a New Year’s resolution for over six months. So why not apply that logic to your personal goals, and get yourself an accountability partner?

Why Accountability Partners Are The Secret to Success

1. Wait… What’s an Accountability Partner?

It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a person to whom you are, in some way, accountable. But we’re not just talking about your family or friends. An accountability partner is an individual unrelated to your job or personal life with whom you strike a simple deal: I will accomplish this and you will accomplish that, and we will spur one another on to do so.
In the sense that they help you to achieve your goals, accountability partners are similar to mentors. However, unlike mentors, they do not have to be particularly versed in your field or even teach you anything. Accountability partners are there to spur you on, to support you, and to exert pressure on you to accomplish what you set out to do. And, in many cases, they expect you to do the same in return.
The theory is similar to that of a sponsor for an addiction: with someone keeping track of your progress, you are much more likely to accomplish what you say you will.

2. What Makes a Good Partner?

It’s best if an accountability partner is not someone you are professionally or personally associated with – at least, not directly. You should define your relationship mostly by your mutual pact. This makes it harder to skip sessions and take one another’s attentions for granted.
It’s fine if your partner is a different personality type or even industry to yourself. The clash may even be helpful, allowing you to gain new perspectives on your proposed goals. You should, however, be capable of getting on well one-to-one. It can also help if they live near to you or inhabit a similar community so that you can arrange regular meetings.
The best accountability partners are unfailingly honest, sometimes brutally. They should be go-getters who spur you on to achieve to a similar extent. The perfect partner is one whom you admire or wish to impress on some level; this way, you’ll have a psychological spur to get your act together. If your partner is a couch potato who doesn’t give a toss about their own life, do you really want them monitoring your own career progression?
[RELATED: Goal Setting: 6 Strategies For Success This Year]

3. The Arrangement

How you arrange your mutual peer pressure-fest is up to you. However, many partnerships like to hold one another to ‘consequences’ should either party fail to fulfill their promises. Consequences can be financial, such as paying the other a certain sum, or merely psychological e.g. admitting failure – whatever adds the appropriate amount of pressure.
Accountability partners will need to check in with one another frequently to ensure both parties are ‘on track’. This can mean text messaging, phone calls or actual in-person meets – so long as it’s regular and structured, it doesn’t matter.
They should also agree upon what kind of support each party requires from the other. Are you looking for a source of support, guidance or brutal honesty? Are you counting on your partner to stick with you even if your career is blown completely off track? Ask yourself these questions before entering any kind of agreement.

4. Be Your Own Accountability Partner

So what happens if your accountability partner goes AWOL or you can’t find a suitable candidate? Not to worry; you can do it yourself.
That’s right: there’s a strong argument that, far from relying on others to hold you to account for your goals, you should be putting that onus squarely on yourself. This is, perhaps, the end game of the self-improvement process. The sheer dedication and self-control required to keep yourself on track is, in itself, a major achievement.
As Stephanie Vozza writes for Fast Company: “It’s easy to put off tasks and responsibilities, but if you want to be successful, you need accountability. A lot has been written about the power of partners or groups, but you may be the best person to get you where you want to go.”
While an accountability partner may help you stick with things in the short term, the only long-term motivator you really have is yourself. You are your own strongest weapon when it comes to achieving your goals. Use what tools you have available to you, but remember: peer pressure will never match that which comes from within.

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