How accountability can help you win.
We all want to be the best possible version of ourselves. When it comes to the multitude of shifts it takes to make that identity a reality, we often come unstuck.
The truth is, there’s no magic formula for success, whether in business or our personal endeavours. Ultimately, hard work, laser-focus and hard-won experience can help us get where we dream of going.
However, if you’ve ever been part of an accountability group, you’ll have noticed there is a certain magic that happens when a group of like-minded individuals come together to help each other achieve their goals.
What is accountability and how does it work?
Accountability focuses our awareness on intentions and helps us be more responsible for taking action. When we embrace an accountability mindset, we become more conscious of approaching change positively and directly influencing those around us.
Habits run our lives. Who you are and what you can accomplish depends on your individual make-up of routines and behaviours. The most effective way to instigate change is to make it part of your daily routine—to make it an automatic habit, like driving a car. The same goes for accountability.
“When you meet regularly with your buddy and/or group,” says Mike Michalowicz, author of Profit First, “you get into a rhythm that makes it easier to stay the course and achieve your goal. Big aspirational goals get broken down into smaller achievable milestones.”
Setting your goals is one thing. Achieving them is something else.
It all comes down to understanding that enthusiasm for a goal is common, but commitment to achieving it is rare. A recent study by The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) found that your probability of achieving a goal is as follows:
10% if you have an actual goal.
25% if you consciously decide you’ll undertake it.
40% if you decide when you’ll do it.
50% if you plan out how you’ll do it.
65% if you commit to someone that you’ll do it.
95% if you make yourself accountable to someone that you’ll achieve your goals within a specific timeframe.
Goals take time, hard work, perseverance, and commitment to achieve. Results don’t often come as quickly as we’d like. And that’s where our brains come unstuck.
In Atomic Habits, James Clear outlines how we live in a world of delayed return. Way back when our brains were still forming, most of our daily decisions immediately impacted us— climb that fruit tree, enjoy your feast. Poke that sabretooth with a stick, and you are the feast.
Focusing on present or near future gratification led to what science calls ‘an immediate-return environment.’ Simply put, that means our brains got used to actions that come with instant or near-instant rewards or responses.
Today, most of our daily choices don’t come with instant benefits. Building a business, breaking a habit, or being a better version of ourselves can take years before seeing rewards. But psychologically, we’re still chasing those immediate returns. And, when we don’t get them, our brains lose interest in the task at hand.
“What is immediately rewarded is repeated. What is immediately punished is avoided,” Clear writes—and there’s nothing like immediate punishment for losing motivation and making you want to give up on a long-term goal.
That’s where accountability partners come in.
Everything changes when we’re willing to let others help you reach our goals. When we’re accountable to someone (or a group of people) for doing what we said we’d do, it’s far easier to get stuff done.
Why? Once again, the answer comes down to how our brains work. We’re social creatures. We rely on positive interaction with others to thrive. And the reward we receive from fulfilling social expectations is why accountability partners are our secret weapon to propelling our goals forward and achieving more.
From little things, big things grow. Little commitments add up to more significant commitments, and tiny actions, multiplied, can generate colossal results. To quote James Clear again:
“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them. They seem to make little difference on any given day, and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous.”
Whether you commit to a single person or join an accountability group, the benefits to reaching your goals are cumulative. You will:
Feel more inspired. Setting up, focusing on, and tracking your goals with others inspires you to act decisively and often.
Support and learn. An accountability group lets you openly discuss what you want to achieve and learn from others walking a similar path.
Grow and thrive. In an accountability group, you quickly learn that you give as much as you gain. Your confidence, self-esteem and self-knowledge will grow as a result.
Share resources. You can draw on the experience, knowledge, and unique skills of like-minded individuals, sharing resources to support each other’s journey and building a robust network of people you trust.
Be encouraged. Celebrate your successes with others who’ll cheer you on to achieve even more (which satisfies your brain’s reward centres).
11 ways to get the most from your accountability group:
1. Aim for groups of 2 – 4 people to maximise efficiency.
2. Set regular, repeating meetings for group check-ins at 2–4-week intervals.
3. Take turns to share—review goals from the previous session and set goals to achieve by the next meeting.
4. Set a timer for each person to share their goals and wins. Ten minutes each is a good rule of thumb.
5. During the meeting, set goals to add a structure and framework for achieving your priorities in life.
6. Share honestly to boost personal growth and a sense of accomplishment.
7. Always be kind, supportive, and objective.
8. Be a good listener. Be present, focused, and open.
9. Commit to meetings, show up, and be on time.
10. It’s not failure if you don’t achieve a goal. Analyse why it happened and reframe for the next meeting.
11. If you must miss a session, you should still submit an email review of your past fortnight and new goals for the coming fortnight.
Achieving anything takes practice. Whether you want to change your habits, business, or finances, finding the commitment system that works for you can make it much easier to Get Stuff Done. Harness the power of accountability for your next big goal, and you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.
A popular feature of our Premium Group Coaching Programs are the powerful Accountability Groups that we engineer for the members. Regular meetings with like-minded designers help our members achieve amazing results in all areas of their life, including professional, personal and wellness goals.
To find out more about our coaching programs, head to our website.
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Stay well, and believe in you!