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Does Your Plan Include an Accountability Partner?

It has been 8 weeks since the new year’s resolution you swore you would keep. Are you meeting your milestones to growth, or keeping those promises you made to yourself? If not, where did you stall? Perhaps this is the time to engage with an accountability partner.

Resolutions are usually about undergoing a transition—to better health, a move, a new job, retirement, active steps toward your promotion or your defined purpose, and much more. Transitions can also be life’s big moments, death, divorce, a new baby, a diagnosis, or a new love. It can refer to something significant that is happening, or it could mean anything that progresses a person from steppingstones A to B, even if it’s not quite ‘major.’

All of my clients are going through a transition. The role of a coach is to ensure their momentum is maintained or to provide support in moving beyond the place where he or she has stalled. Together we develop action steps based on a wide range of factors and individualized to each client. And while being an accountability partner is one of the primary roles of a coach, a person’s chance of successfully reaching their goal increases when they couple this with one who is carefully selected from within their circles of family, friends, and colleagues.

Here are 7 top things and traits to keep in mind when selecting your accountability partner.

1. It is not necessarily the person with whom you are closest.

He or she does not have to be your spouse or partner, family member, or best friend. Although, if any person from these groups fits the criteria, and is willing, then yes. Don’t rule them out because they are your close ally. But, don’t necessarily feel pressured to select from this inner circle, either.

2. They keep the conversation about you and don’t attempt to make it about them.

Let’s say you are sharing your feelings of being overwhelmed at work. If their first response is, “My job is much more stressful than that. Plus, I have children, and you don’t,” or “I have to sit in traffic, and you work from home…” or similar; this is not your best pick.

Your accountability partner listens with one goal — to help YOU process through the situation you have chosen to share with them. This is not about them; this is not about them trying to make it about them, comparing it to them, or dictating how they would handle it. This is about listening with an open heart, asking the questions that support you in your own way figure out the direction that will help you to progress, and then being there to ensure you are following through.

There is plenty of time for you to be a support to your accountability partner. You may establish that outside of the time-frame in which you turn to them for your transition.

3. They understand that each person has a unique life experience—no two are identical.

Science, psychology, and a host of other studies conclusively show we base our perspective on our individual experiences, including our unique personalities. Quantum science tells us we create our life experience through our perspective. No two experiences will ever be identical. Even twins growing up in the same household will have a different response to a situation based on the countless variables that make up their lives, which is why point number 2 is so important.

While it is perfectly acceptable for your accountability partner to keep in mind the lessons they learned on their own journey and guide their questions from this, they must refrain from assuming they have “…experienced that exact thing.”

I will touch more on this in a future post.

4. They take their role seriously.

Your accountability partner will not easily excuse you from your task at hand. They will help you find motivation when you are at risk of giving up, and will gently nudge you toward your goal. And they will make themselves available to you on your scheduled meeting times.

5. They are non-judgmental.

“I’m not judgmental,” one might say. Yet, think about how many times we see someone and think, “I would never [dress, eat, drink, carry myself, cut my hair, talk, tattoo myself, behave] like that.”
“I would never have fallen for that.”
“I would never have dated that person.”
“I would never have responded like that.”
“I would never have painted my house like that.”

Whether we recognize it or not, each person has a spirit striving to learn a lesson, (here come these words again), that is unique to them. Part of our human experience includes those times we make decisions that are not only perplexing to those close to us but sometimes even to us. I call that divine guidance or divine intervention; when we find ourselves in a situation that is so far beyond our usual boundaries of action or behavior, it is ‘beyond us,’ and ‘beyond our human comprehension.’ These often bring the greatest lessons to our lives—ones we might not have had otherwise. Sometimes, that lesson comes at a painful price. The ability to move past it without carrying the weight of self-judgment or judgment from others is essential to our continued growth.

Be sure your accountability partner is one who will respond with love or neutrality, and without judgment.

6. They can be trusted to keep your journey private.

One good rule to follow in life: Don’t share another person’s story. Choose your accountability partner as one who follows this rule. Once a story is retold through the lips of another, it is retold with their own perspective. As we have just gone over, that perspective will vary significantly from yours. They will retell it with inaccuracies, and things will inevitably become misconstrued. Do you remember that old game, operator? Well, practice does not make perfect with that.

In coaching, we are trained to treat our clients as a counselor or attorney does theirs—with the utmost level or proprietary. Be sure your accountability partner can be trusted with your story.

7. Finally, they not only celebrate your wins, but they walk with you into the future, leaving your past in the past.

If you engaged an accountability partner, it is because you are striving to grow. With each milestone, your accountability partner will be one who celebrates each step of your growth and is there for you in your present moment as you continue to progress toward a better future.

If your past includes a painful experience that you have worked hard to move past, make sure those surrounding you are those who are moving forward with you. Someone once said, “People who are intent on holding you to your past can simply view you from your back as you walk forward.”

Don’t wait for someone else to initiate the celebration. You’ve done the work, reward yourself and celebrate you!

When you have found all of these things in your accountability partner, treat them as you would a coach you have hired.

Respect your time with them, communicate with honesty, show self-accountability, and give them gentle feedback on their approach just as they would with you.

Together, you will be stronger in reaching the goals you set, and will exponentially increase your chance at success and subsequently, happiness.


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