Little over a year ago, I made a commitment with my friend Brent that we would go to the gym Monday through Friday at 7:00 a.m. Previously, I had always worked out alone, with middling results. But committing to Brent, and making a promise to each other and to ourselves, changed everything. Those sleepy mornings when I otherwise would have chose to stay in bed stopped happening because when the alarm went off, I knew Brent would be by to pick me up in twenty minutes. I had to answer to someone, and being lazy wasn’t an acceptable answer. I wanted to hold true to my promise, and I would have been embarrassed not to. Those are strong psychological motivators. We can kid ourselves in the mirror, but our supporters and encouragers aren’t deceived so easily.
An accountability buddy is someone (or more than one person) that supports you in making sure you meet your commitments. In psychology, it’s known as an external motivator. Someone, outside of you, that helps you stay motivated. Studies show that writing down and sharing your goals with another person greatly increases the likelihood of your successfully meeting the goal.
An accountability buddy can be used for any goal, whether it be losing weight, finishing your novel, navigating your business, or conquering an addiction. (That’s a major reason people who join AA are assigned sponsors and old-timers continue to attend long after they’ve quit drinking.) Having someone you can talk to, confide in, set goals and monitor progress with, creates a huge psychological advantage. You won’t feel isolated and alone in your efforts, and you won’t be let off with lame excuses. You will feel supported, and will feel the benefit of giving back by providing the same support and accountability to your buddy.
The key is to find someone with your same goals and commitment. Make sure they are positive and supportive in their accountability, not bullying or scolding—at least not completely. It should be about helping pull each other up by the bootstraps in order to meet your mutual goals. And you can celebrate together when you succeed.
How about you? Have an accountability buddy story you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My book, The Abundant Bohemian: How To Live an Unconventional Life Without Starving In the Process is out now. You can find it at http://www.amazon.com/Abundant-Bohemian-Joseph-Downing/dp/1633370135/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419609806&sr=1-1&keywords=the+abundant+bohemian
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