This year, I made a pretty big decision to intentionally piss some people off. Who are the unfortunate angry people that have incurred my wrath, you ask? My trifling student loan company.
Since I've been tracking my finances like a boss, I made a conscious decision to get out of debt. Like, completely out of debt - student loan debt, credit card debt, and all of that left over, residual debt from my early 20's (#YoungAndDumb) by my 30th birthday.
This would require an insane amount of discipline, planning, and focus... over the course of a few years. (It's like I'm training for the Olympics, but no one will hand me a medal at the end of it.) That's when I decided to get an accountability partner.
What is an accountability partner?
An accountability partner is someone that ensures you're reaching your goals by checking in with you periodically. The greatest accountability partners are your high productivity, type-A besties because they can gossip about absolutely nothing over wine for hours, but still have an off switch when it's time to #werk.
Why accountability partners work.
Add social pressure. When everyone else is going to the party, you want to go, right? This is the same thing. You are making a commitment to your friend that you will accomplish your goals. Wouldn't want to let her down, now would you?
Give you a schedule. If you know you have someone checking in with you about whether you published that blog post, you're going to make sure you get it done before your call!
Fresh perspective on your ideas. Now, you have someone to tell you if your ideas are great... and if you need to think through them a bit more.
Devil's advocate. Every idea sounds good in your head, right? An accountability partner will challenge those ideas and make sure you've thought about it from every angle.
Have I sold you on getting an accountability partner yet? Good! Here's how you make your weekly calls productive.
Reflect on your accomplishments and where you want to go BEFORE THE CALL.
After each accountability call (if you've done it right) you'll walk away with at least 3 to-do items. Right before the next call starts, ask yourself whether you actually accomplished those goals. If you didn't, why not? Did you only partially complete your goals?
Taking account of what you've done ahead of time will make it easier for you to translate what you've done to your accountability partner so your call is not filled with a bunch of hmmmm's and let me check's.
Also, if you have an idea of where you want to take your goals next, that gives a lot of opportunity to talk about how you will execute your ideas on the calls. Being fully prepared for your accountability call gives you an opportunity to GO DEEPER into your goals and ideas on the calls.
Be ready to share your ideas.
Just as you'll be sharing your accomplishments and goals with your accountability partner, they will be sharing theirs with you. Listen carefully to what their goals are. Better yet, write them down so you can look back at them. Ask questions to make sure you fully understand what their next steps are.
Then (get ready for it...) share what you think about their new idea. Do you think it's brilliant? Have you done something similar and have an experience to share? Are you excited about the idea? Is there a way to DREAM BIGGER here?
Sharing your ideas and experience is a way to add more value to a conversation by presenting a new perspective that your partner may not have considered or thought about.
Keep a log of your accountability partner's goals.
Talking about your goals is all fine and good, but at the end of the year of working with your accountability partner, what have you accomplished? What has your partner accomplished?
You cannot measure what you don't track. Keeping a long of your partner's goals will allow you to say, "Wow, you've paid off $6K in your loans in 5 months!" or "Wow, you wanted to pay off $2000 this month and you paid $3000!" It will also show you whether or not you've been successful over time.
Stay on topic.
The one downside to having a friend as an accountability partner is when you get the urge to go WAY off topic. You could be talking about career options and opportunities and then fall way off track talking about what you're going to do the upcoming weekend.
Guard your accountability time like the queen on a chess board. Your time is valuable and precious. Take good care of it and you'll win every time.