It Takes Two
Why it’s important to have a partner
My grandpa, a career army man and police sergeant, was the first person to teach me about accountability partners. He told me that if you want to get stronger quicker, you need to lift weights with someone slightly stronger than you. The 5 or 10 pounds that they can lift more than you incentivizes you to keep up and stay motivated to match or best a goal within your reach.
In the same way, I think that peer-to-peer accountability partners can have the same effect on any desired part of your life. By having someone lifting the proverbial “heavier” weights than you, you not only have someone who is going through similar experiences to you but also have a clear path that feels within your reach to accomplish.
Feeling that what your partner has achieved is within your reach is the most critical part of the accountability partnership. It’s no good if you start a partnership with a World’s Strongest Man competitor if you haven’t done any weight traning before– there’s no sense of relatability or incentive to work toward that goal.
How to create an accountability partnership
To create this relationship, explain to the person who you’d like to be accountability partners with that you’re working on taking things more seriously with whatever activity you’re pursing, and suggest that you might benefit mutually from the relationship. I will argue that finding the right person is the hardest part, as it’s the time when you have to put the ego aside and objectively consider your proficiency in an activity or subject.
Set aside a very specific routine for checking in on each other, whether that be through following each other on a digital platform (e.g., sharing Apple Watch Activity Rings) or meeting weekly or biweekly to share your progress (works especially well when applying to internships). Comparison is an easy trap to get ensnared in when establishing this partnership, which is inevitable when meeting with someone or asking for detailed check-ins one on one. To combat feelings of unwarranted resentment, celebrate your partner(s)’ successes as they were your own, and be open to ask them specific questions about their accomplishments or help regarding a question of your own.
For the reader to consider
Even if you don’t have the time to commit to a fully fledged accountability partnership, consider how you can create mechanisms for you to check in on yourself. Set a reminder every week to review a training log, or do a weekly log of the word count progression you’ve made on your manuscript. The ability to use accountability as leverage to reach your goals isn’t dependent on your ability to find someone to check your work. An intrinsic desire to do something can sometimes replace the incentives you derive from another person expecting something of you.