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Last Updated on September 1, 2021

How to Build New Habits With An Accountability Partner

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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.

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

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:

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Benefits of Having an Accountability Partner

Keep You Motivated

Many times over the course of any life mission, people lose motivation. This is nothing to be ashamed or scared of – it can happen to anyone, even the best of us. However, losing motivation at critical points of your journey can derail the whole journey. In fact, many people give up entirely, and that marks the end of whatever mission they set out to accomplish.

This is where accountability partners enter the discussion. They constantly keep you motivated, helping with their words and actions. It really is amazing how much the right words can do for your motivation. Accountability partners don’t give up on you when you start losing motivation; rather, they find how to get get you re-motivated. That’s beautiful.

Constant Improvement

Improvement is one of the few areas of life where there isn’t a limit. Even after accomplishing everything you set out to achieve, there is always still a chance for improvement – and accountability partners are always on the lookout for ways you can improve yourself. So, even if what you have done is so brilliant, there is always a way to improve on it.

The accountability partners may do this by offering another perspective to doing what you did. They may also just thoroughly scrutinize the whole process to uncover areas of weaknesses and fault in your work.

Valuable Support and Advice

If you have ever undertaken any project from start to finish, you will understand why support and advice are such important factors. When I say any project, I mean any project at all. It could have even been leisure painting with crayons!

There are typical times where things start to get rough, and your thinking becomes cloudy. Many people are even close to giving up on everything and letting the whole project explode – I’ve been there. This point is a very delicate position as that can signal the end of the project if not properly managed.

Enter, accountability partners. They just never stop advising and supporting you in these trying times. Knowing there is someone that is constantly waiting on you to succeed and proving it with their actions is enough to drive you to success.

Note that this support and advice is not just for when you are down and low. Even after scoring huge wins and breakthroughs, you need someone to celebrate with. You need someone to be happy with. You need accountability partners.

Honest Feedback

Honest feedback is something that is difficult to get. Usually, people surround themselves with their friends and relatives during the course of a project or program. Many times, these your friends and relatives don’t want to hurt your feelings or see you sad, so they withhold the whole truth of the matter.

Let me be real with you – those people won’t help you unlock your potentials or get to the next level. They will keep you mediocre if you let them “protect” you. Accountability partners, on the other hand, are concerned about your true growth. These partners will give honest feedback on your work, irrespective of how hurtful they may be. This honest feedback may be the difference between failure and success.

Drawbacks of Having an Accountability Partner

Imposing Ideas on You

One of the major cons of having accountability partners in them imposing ideas on you. If you are not very assertive, you will find yourself being swayed left and right. Worse still, some people may find their work losing all originality because of the imposition of the will and ideas of the accountability partners.

This is not saying these partners do it deliberately, as it may be genuinely unintentional at times. Whichever way, you need assertiveness, firmness, and the ability to make the final decision yourself.

Quarrels and Disagreements Can Be Damaging

Building a great relationship with accountability partners is definitely the goal. It may take months or even years, but the result is usually beautiful. Many people, in the course of working with accountability partners, even develop emotional attachments. While all these seem totally fine, there’s a problem – potential quarrels and disagreements.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying there will be quarrels and disagreements – I am saying, what happens if there are? Any quarrel or disagreement could signal not only the end of the relationship but the end of the whole project.

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Qualities of an Accountability Partner

1. Disciplined

Discipline is an important quality to have in everyone, and accountability partners are not excluded. You must ensure that the people you have around you as partners are disciplined because indiscipline on their paths may rub negatively on you.

2. Challenging

Accountability partners should not be content with mediocrity. They always want to see you improve and move to the next level. They challenge you to work harder when you start to relax and fall behind.

3. Patient

An accountability partner must be patient with you. They don’t jump to conclusions, and neither do they rush you into decisions. They understand, even in times of urgency, how being patient can help you make the best decisions.

4. Supportive

Supportive – of course, of course. Oprah Winfrey once described Maya Angelou as “there for me always.” Any good accountability partner must always be there for support and words of encouragement.

5. Able to Give Constructive Criticism

This part is often neglected today. An accountability partner must know how to give honest feedback and constructive criticism. Note the use of the word “constructive.” This means they should know how to criticize without bringing down the person in question.

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:

  • 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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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 October 7, 2021

Are You Addicted to Productivity?

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Are You Addicted to Productivity?

“It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

“Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

“The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

This is my mantra:

I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

Addiction to Productivity is Real

Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

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“A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

“It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

“A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

“There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

“For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

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Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

  • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
  • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
  • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
  • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
  • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
  • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
  • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

1. Set Limits

Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

2. Create a Not-to-Do List

Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

3. Be Vulnerable

By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

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4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

5. Don’t Be a Copycat

Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

6. Say Yes to Less

Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

“In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

“That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

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  • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
  • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
  • Establish realistic goals.
  • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
  • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
  • Hold yourself accountable.
  • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
  • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

8. Simplify

Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

9. Learn How to Relax

“Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

“But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

“And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

  • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
  • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
  • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
  • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
  • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
  • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
  • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
  • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
  • Visit a massage therapist.
  • Just breathe.

“Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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Reference

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