Use the accountability system only if you need support to achieve a goal. If you ask your buddy to keep you accountable for a goal you can very well achieve alone, you are wasting his time (and yours).
Trade written material (specific goal descriptions, business plans, recaps, task schedules, etc.) related to your goals and action steps. And give your buddy every piece of information he or she needs to know in terms of accountability : the reasons why you wanted to achieve this specific goal in the first place, the deadlines, a list of potential problems…
Set up your partnership for a limited time. For instance, I started to work with a goal buddy on September 15, 2009. We have similar goals : writing a book of about 80-120 pages. We also have the same deadline : the end of December, 2009.
Now, three months are quite a long time for an accountability partnership. But my goal buddy and I know each other well, we have already worked together and have discussed projects or career moves in the past. If you have never worked with a goal buddy (or with this particular buddy) before, my advice is to set a shorter time-limit in order to avoid a drop in motivation on both sides.
Set numeric goals for every meeting. It is the only way both you and your partner will know you are making progress. For example, last week I told my goal buddy : « I will finish chapter 3 before our next meeting ».
A numeric goal can consist of :
- Repeating the same action daily for a number of days. For example, writing 1000 words daily for 5 days. Or decluttering your home for 30 minutes daily for 7 days.
- Repeating an action a certain number of times. For example, getting in touch with 4 people who could provide good advice or connections for your job search before the next meeting with your goal buddy.
- Doing several actions within a time limit. For instance, 3 actions during the next 10 days : 1. decluttering your wardrobe ; 2. writing the introduction to your new e-book ; 3. making a list of people you should get in touch with to revive your professional network.
Work out a schedule consistent with your needs and lifestyle. As I explained in 3 golden rules when choosing your goal buddy, you don’t have to meet in person with your accountability partner. You can very well check each other’s progress by phone.
The frequency of the calls depends on the type of goals you have set (which is a good reason why you should choose a partner with similar goals), your respective responsibilities and time zones.
When you select the days and times for your calls, keep in mind that you should talk with your goal buddy often enough, but not too often. Your partnership is supposed to boost your motivation and help you focus, not to become a burden.
You should also agree on :
- taking turns with your partner : each of you should make half of the calls ;
- a time limit for the calls ;
- a procedure if you need extra-support between meetings (e-mails, online chats…) ;
- a specific checklist (the questions you will always ask each other during the meetings).
While you should take your partnership seriously, don’t forget that the aim of a goal buddy system is to make goal achievement a lighthearted experience.
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choosing a reliable goal buddy.