I’m an excellent Procrastinator. I excel at putting things off. That is, up until recently, and now I’m rocking out projects and staying focused when it previously seemed impossible. I truly have improved my productivity and am proud to be Getting Things Done!
How am I doing it now?
Well, I’m not alone anymore on my quest to accomplish my goals. I am now in contracts with Accountability Partners, and I would really like to tell you the format we’re using, because it is working very well for everyone involved!
Yes, this would be my first “How-To” Blog in awhile, so I intend for you to have a takeaway that is useful in your life. Also, all the ideas you are going to read here have been dreamed up, tried and tested by myself or my Accountability Partners. This is just one way to create a system like this, there are many more ways to do it as well, I’m sure.
So, What is an Accountability Partner? (abbreviated – AP)
Someone who you have made an agreement with, to track the completion of goals you create, that you connect with on a routine schedule, and who enforces pre-determined consequences when a goal is not met.
Let’s unpack this a little bit:
“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.” – Matthew 18:19
- Someone you have made an agreement with
- I recommend approaching someone who is not in your immediate social circle. Not a family member. This needs to be someone you can trust with personal information. Someone with similar interests is helpful, but one that does not know your whole life story. This not someone to tell your excuses to, or complain how busy you are, or whine to. This is someone you respect and will respect you, as this is a really deep growth process for you both. You will need to be able to be open with this person. They do not have to live in your immediate area.
- to track the completion of goals you create
- Great procrastinators like me can put off just about any task, until I’ve told someone else I’ll have it done by a certain date and time. Now, when that goal is set, it is rare that I will let someone else down. In this AP process, I decide what goal I want to hit for myself, and the AP does the same thing. We make goals as small or as big as we want to, but the point here is taking small steps in the right direction.
- that you connect with on a routine schedule
- I recommend a weekly meeting with your AP. This can be done in person, over coffee, as my AP Rob and I do. Or this meeting can happen via phone, email or even skype, as my AP Michael and I do. It really doesn’t matter how the meeting takes place, the main thing is that you both make it a priority to be reliably available at your determined meeting times. You could go longer in between meetings, but I find an Every Monday, or Every Tuesday timeframe to work well.
- and who enforces per-determined consequences when a goal is not met.
- This is the big one. A Consequence is what keeps us from falling off track. When we set a goal, small or large, the completion of that goal is not enough motivation to actually do it. Really? Of course! Otherwise, it would have already been done by now! The Consequence is what drives us to complete things. If you’re only doing things you have to do and not pushing yourself to grow by throwing out goals for the sake of self-improvement, then this whole process may not be for you.
- So what kind of Consequence? In both of my AP relationships it involves money. Money is a motivator, but it’s only one way to do this. In my morning AP meetings with Rob, it has been decided that missing a goal means 1 month of buying breakfast for the other guy. In the other AP arrangement, (in which we live across the country from each other) we’ve offered to buy a book on Amazon for the other person, if we should fail to meet a goal. Both consequences I work with are about a $20.00 value… per week.
- I’ll tell you that this coming Monday morning, I’m buying Rob whatever he wants to eat because two weeks ago, I blew a goal. I had wanted to get back to journaling daily, and I skipped one of my seven days that I promised to complete. I missed my goal, I now pay the price. Rob, being a nice guy, offered to shorten the consequence since I did 6 out of the 7 days, but that is not how this system works. If the rules are being bent, we won’t play by the rules!
So the big things here are that this partnership is mutually beneficial, and also individually administered. I would never expect my AP to hand me a goal they think I should complete, or vice-versa. We set our own goals, and agree to our own consequences.
Now here is another key: Let’s all be Big Boys and Big Girls, when we’re going to invest our time and energy into this process. A goal like, “I’m going to get the car washed this week” when you already have the car washed every week, is no stretch for you. C’mon, push yourself a little! But really only a little! If you make many small steps in the right direction, eventually, you get there!
Also, the consequences need to be reasonable, but big enough that you will take them seriously. If you and your AP are multi-millionaires, $20.00 may not be enough to motivate you. However, money doesn’t have to be in the consequence at all. Maybe risk having to wash the windows at your AP’s house. Maybe you make a coupon for a free night of babysitting on a Saturday. Whatever it is, it should be something you want to avoid!
Here is a list of things I have made goals out of in the last month or so with my AP’s, that I almost certainly would not have completed other wise:
- Finish the graduation assignment for my Calling class at Free Agent Academy
- Begin a daily practice of spending a few minutes in the Word, first thing every morning. “Make God’s words, the first ones I hear every day.”
- End each day with a journaling session, recapping my day, or downloading my current thoughts
- Complete Activity #1 and #2 for my You class at FAA
- Ask 1 person to enter a Prayer Covenant this week
- Complete my DISC profile for the You class at FAA
Also, when I decided to make something a daily practice for a week, it has stuck with me and now, I don’t have to think about it, it has become part of my natural routine!
So! If any of this sounds interesting to you, or you have a question, that I haven’t covered, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’ll be glad to explain further, and also I would probably be available as Your new AP if you really need one 🙂
I hope your mind is cranking on all the little areas you want to get Unstuck in your personal or professional life. If you take this Accountability Partner process seriously, I know you can make real headway in a short amount of time, just by deciding you want some company along the way.
And please, I would love to hear the stories of how you and your AP’s are hitting goals week-by-week and gaining real momentum!