Why accountability is the key strategy successful people use
So we’re wrapping up willpower, but one thing we haven’t talked about yet is how do we make these changes and make them stick? The answer: Accountability.
Here are the main steps to setting up accountability for reaching your goals:
- Putting it in written form
- Sharing it with others
- Setting specific parameters
- Setting a date and/or time
- Setting a definite consequence
One of the best willpower accountability “tricks” is to either make a bet or tell several people you care about what it is you are intending to do. I have a friend who has a bet with another friend that if either slips up and does something they are committed not to do, they will pay the other person $1000! Now that is serious commitment!
They have texts, calls or face-to-face meetings once a week to check on this. So far, in over 10 years, neither has ever paid the $1000, but they are obviously rooting for each other not to pay.
Setting a definite consequence drastically increases the odds of you sticking to your goal. Try it. Not sure how to get started? Set a bite-sized goal!
Finding a great accountability partner
Okay, great, so how do you find an accountability partner?
The most important criteria for choosing an accountability partner is it should be someone who you know can be brutally honest with you. Ideally, this would be a peer or someone who has achieved what you want to achieve.
Make sure the time commitment is clearly spelled out as well as agreeing on a firm and regular time to meet. Rules about what is shared and not shared as well as the intention of setting regular goals should be clearly discussed as well.
Sometimes your spouse could be your accountability partner. Other times, this can get you into hot water! If you struggle with stopping at the bar every night on your way home as Cleve does in my book Rethink Happy, perhaps telling your wife you messed up and went to the bar again is going to do more harm than help.
If it is a habit that needs to be broken, find a peer that has already had success in that area. He or she can cheer you on as well as give you advice on how to persevere through the pain.
My assistant suffered a severe injury last year and is still in physical therapy. She detests the home exercises she has to do, but knows they are good for her. She asked her husband to ask her every night if she’s done her exercises. If not, they’re not going to watch one of their recorded shows that night until she does the exercises. So far it’s working with little friction.
How often should you meet with an accountability partner?
This is something that is completely up to the individuals involved and the severity or importance of the goal. If you’re trying to stop smoking, you might have to check in with that person several times a day when you know you are most susceptible.
You can shoot a text or quick email to connect- it doesn’t have to be a meeting in person. Otherwise, I believe somewhere between once a month and once a week is ideal. Less than once a month would be almost worthless, while more than once a week is difficult to execute, unless you aren’t meeting in person.
Verne Harnish, author of Scaling Up, has had the same accountability partner for many years. They email each other daily with “done, not done” on their goals, and either meet in person or via video conference once per week. He credits this as a practice that has helped him leaps and bounds more than going it alone.
So now what? You need an accountability partner!
Challenge #9: Choose a goal. Follow the five steps from the beginning of this post, and find someone to hold you accountable. I’m not going to ask you what it is (although if you want to share it you sure can!), but let me know you’ve found someone and how often you are going to check in with them on your goal! Don’t have anyone? Email me at email@example.com and let me help!
Who is Doug? Doug Kisgen is an author, entrepreneur and personality expert. His primary work? Raising his five kids with his wife of 20+ years in the hill country of Texas.
For ways to put these ideas into practice, check out Doug’s book, Rethink Happy: An Entrepreneur’s Journey Toward Authentic Joy, available as an e-book now, or pre-order the paperback!