I have been working with an accountability partner recently and want to share how awesome the process has been. But what is accountability? An accountability partner? And how can you benefit from the process?
Accountability means a “responsibility to someone or for some activity” (google).
We’re all interconnected, responsible TO many people. I’m responsible to my kids and husband, my family, friends and community, and my clients and professional partners. I am also responsible FOR lots of people and activities for this cast of characters. They’re important and I take good care of these responsibilities.
I am the person to whom others are accountable. Personally, for example, my kids are accountable to me to do their chores and their homework, and I’ll certainly tell them if something is left undone. Professionally, my clients agree to work between appointments towards their organizing goals, and they report to me about how things are going, to ask questions and determine next steps.
As accountable as I am to others, I often ignore my own personal or business deadlines. I’m the boss, so no one checks on my productivity. The business is well run, the BIG stuff gets done, my clients are well served and my presentations are completed. But long-range strategic tasks, important but not urgent, get pushed aside by immediate and urgent issues that come up. I have lots of ideas, but lack the time or focus to make the ideas a reality. Those strategic tasks get pushed further down the to-do list. I needed to create accountability to get these things done.
Think about it – if you know a friend is waiting for you at the gym, you are more likely to exercise. Or making an appointment for the plumber to fix your sink motivates you to clean the cabinet underneath before he arrives, right?
Enter…. Jan, my accountability partner. She has experience with accountability partnerships and graciously offered to work with me. Here is how we work:
- Once a week, Jan and I email, skype or meet in person.
- We talk for an hour or so, and we each determine 3 goals to work on for the next few weeks. The goals are complete-able in the 2-week time frame.
- During the weekly conversations, we report how we are progressing towards our goals, brainstorm ways to get past blocks that occur, and determine goals for the next two weeks.
The very first step for me was to clean up my very long Business master to-do list. I deleted duplicate and completed ideas. Then I sorted the list into short-term ideas, mid-term ideas (1-3 months out), and long-term ideas (3 months – years). Now I can choose 2 or 3 ideas to complete every two weeks. This first step was awesome in itself, to help me clear mental clutter and focus on my short- and long-term business goals.
The weekly conversations have been great for keeping me on task and working towards my goals. I like and respect Jan, and since I have to admit to her my movement or procrastination towards a goal, I make sure to have good things to report! I keep my weekly goals at the bottom of every day’s to-do list, as a reminder. We may not make progress daily, but we both admit to looking at and acting on our accountability list the day before our weekly call, to ensure we have progress to report!
An unanticipated benefit of the process is my very clear list of accomplishments from the last 6 weeks. Just looking at that list motivates me. In summary, so far I have: tweaked my technology set-up, coordinating my IPad, laptop and IPhone with Evernote and Skype; cleared my DVR cache and created more time to read professional work; cleaned up my banking by updating my checking account and on-line banking for my LLC, and installing a credit card reader on my IPhone.
Don’t let me add to your to-do list! But, if you find there are important but neglected goals in your life that you REALLY want and need to get to, think about accountability and finding a partner to make things happen!