What is Accountability?
Accountability. It is a major buzz-word in today’s world as it focuses on success and self-improvement. But what is it really? Webster defines it as “the quality or state of being accountable; especially an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.” But what does that mean in application?
Being accountable means doing what you say you’re going to do. It means owning up to your mistakes and taking the necessary steps to prevent them next time. Accountability can be more than just rewards and consequences. It is strategies, measurements, feedback, and improvement. And when it comes to being accountable with people, a whole new layer of success is possible.
In comes your accountabilibuddy — your accountable buddy. They are the person who keeps you on track, who picks you up when you fall, who celebrates the victories with you, and who helps you to recalibrate after failures. And in many cases, you do the same for them.
Why Do We Need an Accountabilibuddy?
The biggest benefit of having an accountabilibuddy is that it is easier to let ourselves off the hook than to answer to someone about a failure. By being accountable to your friend every single morning with your deal to tell them about any time you do not accomplish your goal, you are absolutely going to be working out every day now. Whereas, if the only person you were checking in with was yourself, it would have been easier to just turn the other cheek and “start over tomorrow.”
Competition breeds excellence. While you are cutting out sweets in order to lose weight, it will be easier to do so knowing your best friend is doing similarly. “Well, if she can do it, I can too!”
Another benefit of an accountabilibuddy is the alternate perspectives they can provide. With different experiences and opinions, they may come up with ideas and solutions you otherwise would never have considered. These new paradigms often bring answers to problems you were not originally aware of.
Just having someone in your corner can really help too. Changes and improvements are difficult. In most cases, we are attempting to alter a habit ingrained in us for years. Having a person cheering you on is invaluable, especially during hard times.
What Can an Accountabilibuddy Do?
Depending on your goals and your accountabilibuddy’s goals, there are a variety of ways you can help one another.
The easiest, and possibly the best, way to hold one another accountable is daily check-ins. Again, if you are checking with your partner daily, you are more likely to complete your goal. This can be via email, text, phone call, or any other method you choose.
Some accountabilibuddies have weekly or monthly check-ins too, where they do a deep dive about how a goal is actually working for them, not just on the general progress of it. Is the quality and quantity of the expectations sufficient? For example, is striving for just one healthy meal a day too easy? Could your friend actually do two? These deep dives allow you and your partner to tweak things as necessary to ensure an even more successful week or month on the horizon.
It is possible to do these activities with someone, whether remotely or in person. My friend and I get together and batch cook to do weekly meal prep every Friday (meaning we cook on Friday everything we will eat during the following week). This encourages him to eat the right quality and quantity of food during the week (he struggles with overeating and eating unhealthy foods), and it will ensure I eat the right amount too (I have an eating disorder, so I struggle with restricting and then reactively binging). I have to cook food that is good for me personally and at the right quantity every week, because I promised my accountabilibuddy I would.
Again, having someone to bounce off ideas is a great benefit too. When another friend of mine got stuck in waking up on time — “I can’t seem to get out of bed; I just hit snooze on my phone and go back to sleep”, she said —, I advise she move her phone to the other side of the room. It will force her to wake up. Now she is getting up on time every day, all because something was presented to her that she hadn’t yet thought of — but her accountabilibuddy did.
Accountabilibuddies can supply great reality checks. They will remind you that one “cheat day” is okay, but “cheating” every day is not staying true to your goals. They can also bestow compassion upon you when it is hard to be compassionate to yourself. For a person who is really tough on themselves, they have an accountabilibuddy for when they beat themselves up. The accountabilibuddy for that goal can remind them just how great they had been doing previously — maybe this was the first mess-up of a daily habit in three months. The buddy can then provide a lot of support and encouragement that will get the person in question back on their feet.
Depending on your relationship with your accountabilibuddy, you can also create a friendly competition with them. Who can go the longest without a mess-up, who can bounce back the quickest, et cetera? By challenging each other, you are both more likely to keep to your goals. You can even place wagers on who will succeed — you fail your goal, you owe your buddy $50. A loss of money might be great motivation.
How Can I Find One?
Potential accountabilibuddies are everywhere! They may be neighbors, coworkers, weekend friends, relatives, or even strangers online.
For example, if you are wanting to work out more, look into gym clubs at your place of work or running clubs in your local town. Similarly, there may be local cookery clubs in your area if you are hoping to improve your eating. These might be at community centers, churches, universities, or even online.
And no matter the habit or skill you are wanting to improve — fitness, a hobby, self-care, et cetera —, there are tons of online communities and forums out there where a potential accountabilibuddy lies in wait. If you are an avid Facebook user, you can look into their Groups. Meanwhile, MeetUp.com has a great collection of clubs whose members strive for self-improvement.
Consider any of your friends or coworkers who are already making great strides to change themselves for the better. Many go-getters are eager to work on multiple facets of themselves. So if your co-worker is already losing weight on a diet, maybe they would be willing to work with you on exercising a few times a week. Or they may have a network wherein they know of some other person who needs their own accountabilibuddy, who could be you!
Whom Do I Choose?
Picking an accountabilibuddy can be hard. Your best friends and romantic partners are not always the best candidates. In fact, someone very close to you may be a bad idea, as one of you may take too personally any constructive criticism that is given. Meanwhile, even a complete stranger can make for an amazing accountabilibuddy. It just depends on the person.
Ideally, your goals would be the same or at least similar. It is not necessary, but try to keep things as in common as possible. Maybe you are both hoping to work out once a day — they are doing weights and you are doing cardio. That sounds great. By having things in common, it makes it easier to relate more to your buddy.
Try to find someone from a similar starting point or in a similar situation. Again, it makes it easier to relate. Do you both have kids? Are you both in school? Are you each in committed relationships? The more in common you have, the more you can encourage one another.
Ensure your person in mind is dedicated. Do not sign up with someone you know will quit in three weeks, who is desultory, or does everything half-heartedly. Instead, find someone dedicated and ready to make a difference. That way, when you are down, they are more likely to support you. Moreover, you will not be having to carry them the whole way. And of course, they will be less likely to quit on you part of the way through.
Be clear about what you want in an accountabilibuddy too. Let them know what your needs and expectations are. Are you just brainstorming, or are you wanting a workout buddy in the gym? Once you find out what they want and express your own needs, you can see where the overlap is and how you can help one another.
How Do I Keep in Touch With Them?
With the pandemic, just about everything is digital right now. But that can work to your benefit, because apps and services are really stepping up their games. Apps like Discord, Zoom, Telegram, Messenger, Google Hangouts, and FaceTime are great ways to check in. Even simple texts, phone calls, or emails should suffice.
So Who Do You Have in Mind?
An accountabilibuddy — or multiple — is a great way to add an extra layer of potential success or a safety net to your goals and tasks. They can give you encouragement and constructive criticism, they can both celebrate and lament with you, and they can bring to the table issues and solutions you may have not previously considered. The only question that is left is if your goals matter enough to you to take the time to find someone who can help you achieve them.