I love making lists. I really love it so, so much. I make
- to-do lists
- grocery lists
- New Year’s intentions lists
- guest lists
- lists of accomplishments
And the list goes on.
But all of those lists do not necessarily mean that I get anything significant done. Sometimes I’m on fire and hit my goals like bing, bang, boom. But when I feel resistance, I put off high-priority goals for months. And that, of course, comes with a nice little helping of shame.
Recently, I took a look at my goals and had to pause because they were freaking ambitious. Like, I want to do some big stuff in the future (and with a baby, no less). To be honest, I’m not so good at being accountable to myself. Many times I’ll accept my own excuses and let myself put things off until my goals are just a sad, crumpled to-do list in the recycle bin.
I got an idea and I want to share it with you because it is the single most effective tool I have ever used for gettin’ shit done.
I found an Accountability Partner.
Yes. Oh, yes I did.
I thought about the cheerleaders in my life – all the people who love me and give me the most support and I narrowed that list down to one person. This person is
- also ambitious and has super fabulous goals of her own (maybe she’d want an Accountability Partner too!)
- organized and dependable (I can trust her to follow up with me every week, even if I slack off)
- kind (I know she’d never shame me and only give me strong but compassionate words of encouragement)
- someone I can trust with my dreams (she’ll never act like my goals are unattainable or silly and only offer support and thoughtful insight)
I approached this friend with the following proposal: I would email my list of goals for the upcoming week along with an assessment of how well I tackled my goals from the past week. In exchange, I would receive her goals and goal assessment.
She was totally game. We each chose a day and time that works best for us. For me, Monday nights. For her, Wednesday mornings. And if one of us misses our appointed time, we kindly message the other as a reminder.
We’ve been acting as Accountability Partners for several months now and this little arrangement works beautifully. When I forget/avoid/overlook my check-in, my Accountability Partner shoots me a quick email and it’s just the push I need to reflect, reassess, and get back to doing what I’m supposed to be doing.
Recent research supports the effectiveness of having an Accountability Partner. Dr. Gail Matthews of Dominican University conducted a study on reaching goals and found that those who set goals, created a list of achievement actions, shared their goals with a friend, and sent them weekly progress reports were far more likely to meet their goals than those who only wrote down their goals.
Having someone to report to has made me way more productive. I get to check items off my list (the BEST part of creating a list). I won’t let my friend down if I don’t accomplish what I set out to do. But it feels like I will and that accountability makes all the difference.
So, it’s good to make lists. It’s better to share them. And even better than that is sharing how well you did checking off those lists.
Are you a list-maker? Do you have another really effective tool for achieving your goals? I would love to hear about it! Please share in the comments below.
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