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Accountability means taking responsibility for your own stuff. If you find yourself saying: “I didn’t know,” “No one made me a list,” or “No one told me what to do.” Then you aren’t being accountable for your own responsibilities. Yet sometimes, we do need someone else’s assistance. Accountability partners can help you reduce stress and pain, allowing you to refocus on the task.

Accountability partners can be a friend, a colleague, a co-worker, a family member — someone who is interested in you as a person and wants you to do well. This person isn’t going to help you do the work, answer your questions about the work, or get mad if you don’t get things done. Instead, this is a relationship about respect. You are asking for the person’s time and interest. An accountability buddy will listen to you, ask questions, and be interested in your progress.

 You have these responsibilities:

  1. Talk with them once a week or more often at an agreed time
  2. Tell them what you are working on and the due date (show them you know what you are responsible for)
  3. Tell them about the complex parts that might cause you some trouble (be honest with problem parts)
  4. Tell them the steps you will take to address that problem (yes, this will mean more studying, researching, or learning, but now you know what parts will take longer)
  5. Talk to them again at the next appointed time, review, and add new items. For most people, this will be 1-3 times per week.

Regularly doing this builds repetition and relationships to motivate yourself to finish hard, unpleasant things. 

Now let’s put it into action — pick a challenging task and ask someone to be your accountability partner. Maybe they are up for hearing about it on the spot. Perhaps they can give you some of their focus and time later in the day. Set up your next talk so you can share your project, challenges, and progress.

You can ask someone to be your accountability buddy in one of these ways:

  1. Send a text message and say, “I could use some help staying motivated. Do you have 5 minutes to chat?”
  2. Catch them in the hall and ask, “Can we talk through the work assignment later today or tomorrow?”
  3. During dinner, say, “I want to do my part to stay on track with this goal, but it would be helpful if I had some regular check-ins. Can we plan that?”

This technique can help you meet financial goals (saving money or paying down debts), improve your work, improve outcomes for a project, catch problems before they grow too big, and plan for the future.

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