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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 April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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