Better Together! How to Work with an Accountability Buddy

Nov 16, 2021

Distractions are everywhere. Nowadays, it’s harder to stay focused with shorter attention spans, the ubiquity of smartphones, easy access to the Internet, and obsession with social media. 

Because of our response to these distractions, we get derailed from achieving our goals. Most people slack off and put off what they have to do. Working from home has also posed extra challenges to staying focused and accomplishing tasks efficiently. While we can’t eliminate everything that distracts us, what we can control is how we respond to them, especially when they arise in the most inopportune of times. 

One lesson COVID-19 has taught us more is the need for accountability—holding ourselves accountable for every consequence our actions will lead to. It’s willingly committing to having responsibility or obligation for everything we do and not blaming anyone else no matter what the outcome will be. To create accountability, we could write a journal entry indicating our intention or set our phone alarms to alert us for a task that should be done.

But accountability becomes easier to create and build with another person in the picture. According to a The New York Times article, accountability works more when it comes from the outside. For instance, if you want to start committing to a healthier diet, having a friend who constantly checks in on you to eat healthy food would most likely push you to follow through. It’s one thing to disappoint yourself; what more if there’s another extra pair of eyes watching you fail on your every goal. 

It has been proven time and again that people who try to achieve goals with a buddy are most likely to succeed than those who do it by themselves. This is what we call an accountability buddy or someone who helps you in achieving personal goals by checking in on you on a regular basis. It’s nice to feel that you are not alone in your process of becoming but how do you find an accountability buddy and a great one at that? The first step to do is to look for a partner with a similar goal and make a plan together. The structure of your accountability system should work for the both of you. You may schedule in-person weekly check-ins or daily updates through chat or text. You could also employ a rewards-punishment system with money and prizes involved. 

Remember that this system is not foolproof and your accountability buddy is not perfect. It would only work for the both of you if you have a growth mindset over a goal mindset. Yes, there is a goal with your eyes on but if you focus on succeeding or failing that goal, there are higher chances that minor setbacks could easily sidetrack you and make you quit. Your focus should be on the behavior—diligently logging in what you eat every day, choosing fruits and vegetables over fast food, and tracking calories burned after a grueling gym session. Now the job of your accountability buddy (and yours too to them) is to check in on their progress, encourage them to continue moving a step forward in their dreams, and lend a helping hand in case a problem arises. 

A good accountability partner is one that is supportive throughout the process, a willing problem-solver, and a cheerleader by celebrating the smallest of wins. Some cardinal commandments are to never judge, start from a place of understanding, have the patience to suggest alternative action steps, and always be honest. 

Making the Buddy System Work 

1. Start implementing an imperfect plan.

Starting a new project or introducing a new habit in your daily life is a Herculean task. For most of us, we need to have an end in sight or a bigger purpose for why we are about to embark on a project. So many people look for motivation to start but really, the key is to just do it. Devise a plan with your accountability buddy on what you could do every single day to help you in achieving your future goal. For example, if you want to run and join a triathlon someday, jogging, swimming, and biking at least once a week for each activity could be a good jumpstart. Once you start, all you have to do is stay consistent. 

And oh before we move on, please be kinder to yourself and know that it’s impossible for everything to be perfect on the first go. It’s better to put an imperfect plan in place and have your accountability buddy check in on you if you are following through with what you have laid out. If a particular approach has not been working for a time, you could always realign and restrategize. 

2. Challenge each other to go out of your comfort zone. 

Ask yourself. What is something that you have always been holding back because of fear? What’s out of your comfort zone but will help you achieve your goal? Discuss with your accountability buddy these goals that will challenge you to test your limits and go beyond them. You have to strategize on how you could do it while also enjoying the process. 

Encouraging words and constructive criticism from your accountability buddy will help. You could open up to them and hear their insight on how you could deal with a particular situation. 

These go-out-your-comfort-zone plans should be part of your general imperfect strategy. Just do something that you feel is a stretch and you’ll be surprised with how fulfilling it will be for you afterward. 

3. Regard check-ins as deadlines. 

Working towards a big goal could become overwhelming, so to make a realistic deadline, break it down into small tasks and set a deadline for each. Every time you check in with your buddy, you must come in prepared with updates and the progress of your project. These deadlines must not be lenient whatsoever and must be taken seriously by both. Some add incentives or give punishments to those who were and weren’t able to complete a said task on time. 

If your accountability partner is having a hard time meeting the goal, then tweaks in your strategy should be made accordingly. 

4. Reward each other. 

Celebrate small and big victories to give each other more support. Rewarding your accountability partner towards the end of the year for a job well done is something you could do to help motivate them to work harder. 

One way you could reward your buddy is to buy ergonomic furniture for better work efficiency. There couldn’t be better timing than now because Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner. FlexiSpot is joining the sales events again and as early as now, already has items on discount here: https://www.flexispot.ca/black-friday/ This will run from November 15 to November 25.