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Last Updated on October 28, 2020

How to Build New Habits With An Accountability Partner

How to Build New Habits With An Accountability Partner

Are you struggling to build new habits?

While it’s important to first understand how the habit loop works, you should also start to collaborate with an accountability partner.

What Is an Accountability Partner?

An accountability partner can be likened to a partnership where you mutually consent to mentor each other and offer feedback on an agreed timeframe. Feedback could be shared daily or weekly.

The flow of communication between accountability partners shares a similarity with that of a mastermind session. The major difference is that communication focuses on the two accountability partners instead of on a group of individuals.

Here’s everything you need to learn about building new habits with an accountability partner.

Why Should You Have an Accountability Partner?

Accountability could be internal or external.

Internal accountability is synonymous with personal responsibility. However, I will focus on external accountability for this topic.

Collaborating with an accountability partner can assist you in forming new habits.

Naturally, human beings need to be pushed to make concerted efforts along the line of their goal. Achieving your goal may become a burden when you are isolated from a group.

Before I reveal how you can build new habits with an accountability partner, here are some benefits of working with an accountability partner:

  • Accountability partnership provides you with an opportunity to mentor someone on habit formation while you also obtain value in exchange.
  • It allows you to bond with someone who shares your struggles, hopes, dreams, and goals.
  • It is easier to meet at a mutually suitable time. There’s no need to book an appointment as it is the case with professional coaching.
  • Since both accountability partners benefit mutually, you don’t pay any coaching fee.
  • The partnership keeps you committed.

So what about mastermind groups? Yes, they could be helpful, but each member of the group has a limited duration to share their challenges and insights. With an accountability partner, there is no limit to the amount of time.

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An accountability partner can support you in building new habits in the following categories:

  • Diet or nutrition
  • Fitness training
  • Effective communication
  • Emotional Growth and Meditation
  • Parenting
  • Relationships
  • Budgeting and Saving
  • Home organization
  • Self-help
  • Learning Development
  • Writing
  • … and more

Imagine if you meet someone at the library every week, then you are laying a good foundation for building a solid accountability partnership.

Find out more about the importance of having dependable accountability:

How to Get Started with an Accountability Partner

Now, your goal is to locate someone who shares the same passion and commitment to building new habits. Create a list of potential individuals you trust and communicate your intention with them. The list should include individuals you hold in high esteem.

As a piece of advice, exclude your close friends, so the partnership does not end up into a chit chat. Every moment has to be deliberate and intentional. The essence of the relationship is to provide honest feedback and not to waste time.

Therefore, if you are ready to work with an accountability partner, factor in the following:

  • Is the prospect dependable? Can you depend on the individual to follow through and respect your recommendations?
  • Can he or she manage complicated conversations? Can you provide direct feedback, and not have to handle unnecessary excuses or defensiveness?
  • Does this individual have a bigger vision about his or her life? Do they possess aspirations that you resonate with?
  • Is this individual ready to act? Do they have a sense of commitment and are prepared to go beyond the status quo?

There might also be a need to go on self-introspection and be sincere with yourself. If you have not been committed, honest, and reliable in the past, acknowledge that.

You don’t have to deceive yourself; try to come to terms with your present reality and your future aspiration. This will enable you to focus on how your partner can succeed, as you can’t give what you lack.

Here are five steps to find an accountability partner:

Step 1: Look for the Right Individual

Where you search determines who you meet. You can search online or in person. You can also attend local meetups, TedxSessions, or reach out to serious friends who also need an accountability partner.

Examples of platforms and tools you can leverage are:

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  • Forums, websites, blogs relating to the habits you want to form.
  • Facebook groups(type the habits to search for groups around them).
  • Accountability apps such as coach.me and MyFitnessPal.
  • Local events and meetup groups.
  • Seminars and workshops.

You will find it easier to collaborate with the right prospects as soon as you decide on working with an accountability partner.

Step 2: Be Open to Prospects from a Different Background

Work with someone with the same level of achievement, but dynamic strengths as well as weaknesses that are different from yours.

For instance, eating healthily and working out contribute immensely to physical development. If you have mastered the habit of eating healthy foods but need motivation on how to exercise regularly, you can find a partner who has learned how to work out but is lacking in eating healthy foods. Both of you will complement each other, and the result will be remarkable.

Locating someone who is above your success level will challenge you and also establish a synergetic accountability relationship and not a coaching arrangement. Both of you will derive value for every moment shared, and forming new habits will become easier.

Step 3: Meet Your Preferred Candidate

As soon as you have settled for any of the prospects on the list, ask the person if he or she is interested in building new habits through an accountability partnership. Explain what it’s all about, how it works, and highlight the benefits of the relationship.

If none of you is uncertain about becoming an accountability partner, communicate for some time and decide having known each other.

Step 4: Select a Day and Time, and Form of Meeting

You can structure the meet up in diverse ways. It could be on the phone, via Skype, in person, or you could share updates via email, social media platforms, or text. The medium you utilize is less significant as long as you communicate and offer mutual accountability.

For accountability purposes, you can stick to a time and date that is suitable for both parties.

Also, it is paramount to maintain a consistent schedule. Both parties should compare their weekly activities and find a suitable time to achieve consistency.

There is no doubt you will have to reschedule the meeting time, but it is crucial to fix a time that is constant and integrated into the week. Anytime you meet at a specific time, your mind can relive ideas and issues that require attention, which you can fix for the next meeting.

Step 5: Establish Weekly Statement of Accountability

The last point of action is to create what I call ‘accountability statements.’ These are actionable activities you will both complete before you meet again. They are like milestones, which are small activities that are part of a bigger objective.

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To simplify this process, you need to make a PACT with yourself as far as the milestones are concerned.

The PACT acronym means:

  • P-Possible
  • A-Action-based
  • C- Clear
  • T- Time-bound

Let’s periscope into the four elements.

P – Possible

Are the milestones stated in the accountability statement attainable or feasible?

While it is an excellent idea to think big, your goal should be feasible so it can be executed within the set timeframe.

If you desire to write a guide on habit formation, for instance, “I will write 3000 words next week” is quite achievable if you are capable of writing 1000 words daily.

A – Actionable

Can you act on the goal?

I have seen several people who established goals beyond their capabilities.

For instance, ‘I will write more kindle books in next month” is not feasible as it lacks clear actions to it.

This is a better statement of accountability: ” I will write 20 Kindle Ebooks on Habit Formation by hiring 20 Ghostwriters next month.”

This statement is not only specific; it establishes what you need to do to accomplish the goal.

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C – Clear

Your accountability statement should bring clarity to the fore. It should exclude reasons the goal cannot be attained. It should be clear and concise.

For example, “I will write 3000 words next week” is better than “I will write 3000 words if I don’t have visitors next week.”

You should factor in potential hindrances when creating your accountability statement. If you’re going to have visitors next week, “I will hire a ghostwriter to write 3000 words next week” will be a perfect replacement.

T – Time-Bound

You should establish a clear deadline for every commitment. The next meeting will be the deadline. Nevertheless, if you both feel there would be a long break before the next meeting, you could agree to communicate online or agree on sharing results online.

The Bottom Line

You can’t overemphasize the benefits of working with an accountability partner when it comes to new habit formation.

Just ensure you follow the five steps highlighted above so you can both maximize the relationship.

Focus on the problem you both face and offer honest feedback to the other partner and leverage the PACT formula to create an accountability statement.

You will form new habits if you can break your major goal into milestones. And more importantly, two good heads are better than one. You can achieve the most prominent goals through an accountability partnership than by isolating yourself.

More to Make Your Habit Stick

Featured photo credit: Alejandro Escamilla via unsplash.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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