Curious about how having an accountability partner works? When you look at the entirety of human history, one thread weaves its way through everything: humans are most successful when we’re working together in groups.
We aren’t meant to be working towards goals and struggling through our journeys alone, or even worse, pitted against one another.
Instead, the ideal scenario for human success is to have a person (or multiple people) who are on our path with us, such as an accountability partner.
They’re there to cheer us on and to provide an outside perspective on our progress and problems. They're also there to help us brainstorm solutions—and we do the same for them.
Let’s dive into the accountability partner meaning, the benefits of having external accountability, and how to find this person. We'll also cover how to make the most of this important relationship.
What is an accountability partner?
It's typically someone who shares a goal that you want to achieve. You’ll build a reciprocal relationship where you team up together to pursue that goal and keep one another on track.
Having a partner like this is different from a coach or mentor (which is more of a one-way motivational/advisory relationship).
Just like any other kind of relationship between two people, everyone’s version of this partnership will look a little different. It all depends on your individual personalities, connection to one another, and the goal you're trying to achieve.
This person can help you break bad habits and take personal responsibility for achieving your goals. Having them in your life can help you get rid of excuses and finally win with your goals!
Accountability partner responsibilities
Normally, you and your partner will do things like:
- Talk about your goals and brainstorm the best ways to achieve them
- Identify daily/weekly/monthly steps to take in pursuit of the bigger goal
- Check-in with one another frequently to review how things are going
- Encourage one another and figure out how to get past any roadblocks you run into
You might find that you and your partner create your own routines and preferences as you get comfortable.
What characteristics to look for in an accountability partner
What qualities should you seek when looking for this person, now that you know the meaning of an accountability partner? There are a few things that are important to look for in order to find the right person.
Look for someone who is encouraging
First, you want to find someone who will help you stay motivated and encouraged. They should believe in you and your goals, have your best interests in mind, and be excited about your progress.
Find someone who will tell you the truth
Honesty is an important characteristic of an accountability buddy. Yes, you want someone who is kind and helpful, but it's also important that they are able to show you some tough love by providing honest feedback that will help you grow.
Choose a person who is invested in your progress
Pick someone who cares about how well you do with your personal goals. This person will have check-ins with you to see how things are going and will offer insights and ideas to help you do better.
Make sure you care about their goals too
An accountability relationship works both ways. You also need to be a good partner to the person you choose. Ask them about their specific goals and encourage them on their journey just as much as they encourage you.
Can you be accountability partners with different goals?
Because every pair of partners is different, you don’t have to find someone who has exactly the same goal or is at the same phase of their progress.
For instance, if you want to lose 20 pounds, you can still be partners with someone who wants to lose 10 or 30.
Regardless of the number, both of you will be trying to live a healthy lifestyle and exercise more. If you want to save $10,000 in a year, you can partner up with someone who wants to save $5,000 or $20,000. Both of you will be trying to cut expenses and increase income.
Why you should choose someone with the same goal categories
While they don't have to match exactly, having the same category of goal is best, so you can give one another the most relevant advice and encouragement.
For instance, if you want to save $10,000 and the other person wants to lose 20 pounds, you’ll each be doing very different activities to pursue those goals and may not be as helpful to one another. You could still cheer one another on as you reach milestones, though!
The benefits of having an accountability partner
There are a lot of excellent reasons why you need someone to challenge you and help you stay motivated. Here are the benefits!
You are much more likely to succeed
If you really want to succeed at a goal, the data gives accountability partnerships a resounding thumbs-up. Having this person in your life is enough to increase your chances of success to an astonishing 95%!
You'll be way more likely to stick with your goals and accomplish the things you want to do if you have someone to encourage you on the way.
Two heads are better than one
For one thing, this gives you someone to compare notes with so you can both try different strategies and see what works best. It’s two people to do research, think of new ideas, validate them for each other, and test them with trial and error.
Motivation is contagious
When you have this person in your life, seeing their hard work motivates you to work hard too, and vice versa. In addition, when you have a partner you respect, you want them to have a good opinion of you and don’t want to let them down.
If you’ve committed to a goal like going running at 6 am every morning, you’re going to feel guilty lying in bed knowing that your partner is out there sweating. It puts on pressure, but in a positive way; it’s a lot easier to stay in bed when you have nobody to answer to!
There might be an element of friendly competition involved here too; you want to prove what you’re capable of and not get shown up.
Enjoy the journey
The last benefit? It’s just more fun! Having someone on your team means you always have someone to talk to about your goals, crack inside jokes with, and build a closer friendship as you do the hard work together.
How to find an accountability partner
Okay, this all sounds great...now it’s time to go down to the accountability partner store to find your perfect match! (If only it were that easy.)
The truth is, finding this person can be tough. You need to find someone who:
- Is working toward similar goals as you
- Also wants accountability for those goals
- Is comfortable sharing personal details with you (and you with them)
- Communicates in a similar way (i.e. email, text, phone, video, in-person? How frequently?)
It can feel like a needle in a haystack to find someone who checks the right boxes, but it helps if you dedicate intentional effort to seeking the right person.
People you know
First, try your existing circle. Reach out, share a little bit about the goal you’re trying to achieve, and ask if anyone else would be interested in joining you for the challenge. It could be a family member, friend, colleague, or acquaintance who you wouldn’t mind getting to know better.
If that doesn’t work out, look for local groups dedicated to the topic of your goal (such as finance, health, career, and so on). Spend time forging connections there and a partnership may come naturally.
Online accountability partner
If you can't think of someone you know that can help you with your goals, try finding an online accountability partner.
You can check for groups online to find people who want to achieve similar things. If you’re working toward financial goals, think about joining the Clever Girl Finance Facebook community to look for a partner!
You might also check out a social media platform or two for groups that are committed to the same goals as you. Good places to start are LinkedIn or Facebook groups.
Lastly, in today's world, there’s an app for everything. Paying for an app like Supporti could give you even more motivation to stay accountable since you’re investing money as well as effort.
There are features to match you with an online accountability partner and help both of you track progress and communicate with one another.
Achieving success together as partners
For this partnership to work, you both have to be committed to making it successful. Here are some tips for making the most of this relationship:
Choose the right partner
Finding the right partner is foundational to building a successful relationship and achieving positive outcomes. Look for compatible goals, lifestyles, philosophies, and communication styles.
Be specific about your big-picture goals and the steps to reach them
The more specific you can be, the easier it’ll be to communicate with your partner and judge how well things are going. Before you ask someone to hold you accountable, be sure that you have very clear ideas about what is needed to accomplish your dreams.
Develop a shared system to track progress
There are plenty of options to track progress toward a goal, so use whatever system you’re likely to stick with. You could create a shared Google doc or spreadsheet, send one another pictures, use a goal-tracking app, etc.
Prioritize working on your goals and checking in regularly
If you don’t make your goal a priority in your life, you’re much more likely to put things off, frustrating yourself and your partner. And in turn, you may not succeed.
Before you commit to an accountability challenge, make sure you have the time to invest in it. If life is busy, schedule regular times to check in so it doesn’t become a matter of one person chasing down the other to talk.
Be direct and honest about your goals and progress
The best way to grow is to tell the truth about your progress, weaknesses, and improvements. Using this type of effective communication will allow you to make better routines and find ways to do well with what you hope to achieve.
Be kind and help each other
It probably goes without saying, but always seek to be kind and help the other person. You are there to aid the other person as they work towards their dreams. A great partner knows how to be motivational and truthful at the same time.
Set goals with specific deadlines
Rather than being vague about your goals, give yourself a specific amount of time to accomplish them. For example, one of your fitness goals might be: work out 5 days a week for 3 months. Or a finance goal could be: save $2000 by the end of the year.
Give yourself more personal accountability by setting deadlines, and ask your accountability buddy to do the same. Setting up these sorts of guidelines makes it easy to see progress and success.
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An accountability partner can help you win!
Knowing the meaning of an accountability partner and working with this person can do amazing things for your success. It's all about having the ambition and commitment to dedicate to an accountability challenge.
Start hunting for a partner and get ready to crush those goals! And to take it a step further, learn how to set goals for the year.