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You need an accountability partner -- especially on Blue Monday


                                             Exercise and partner


Today is Blue Monday. The third Monday of the new year. The day of the year the day of the year on which most of us feel at our lowest ebb.

Right about now, you might realize that achieving your goals for 2013 on our own is hard work.

But what you may not have realized is that there is somebody in your network who can help.

You need an  "accountability buddy" an old, yet tried-and-true tip for sticking to your resolutions.

I have chosen mine and it’s working out well.

For 2013, I resolved to exercise more often. My sister and I have been meeting up twice a week at an evening fitness class. Usually we will call each other or text and check in and make sure the other hasn’t come up with some excuse for weaseling out of going to class. Being accountable to someone for sticking to my resolution has made it much more doable. I haven’t missed a class yet.

You want better work life balance in 2013? You want to make time for exercise, a hobby or your family? Find an accountability partner is someone who prods you into action, will be honest with you and keep you on the right track.

If you want to get out of the office earlier in 2013, who do you know who is good with hard boundaries? What can you learn from the way they organize their day and can you ask them to hold you accountable, to check in with you on their way out so you can walk out together?  

In her new Encore Career Handbook, Marci Alboher shares the story of Cathy Abbott, a senior executive at an energy trying to figure out what she wanted to do after she retired. Cathy found a friend in her same situation who became her accountability buddy. They would meet regularly for drinks or dinner and end every get together with a statement of what they would do before their next meeting to explore what they could do next in the next stage of their lives.  Cathy eventually got a Master’s in Divinity and is now a minister. She says the regular check-ins were crucial to choosing a path.

My pal Michelle Villalobos, a motivational speaker and consultant, wants to paint more in 2013. She has blocked out 3 hours twice a week. But she knows that’s going to be easy to blow off.  Michelle asked her boyfriend to be her accountability partner and hold her to the commitment. Her boyfriend even helped her turn the garage into an art studio. When she’s supposed to be in the studio, he checks with her to make sure she is there. “It takes practice making it a habit and it helps to have someone encouraging you. It’s important who you choose because if you start resisting, you need someone who will stay on top of you and make sure you don’t give up.”

I was talking to Michelle about it and she’s completely comfortable with her boyfriend being her accountability partner to ensure she makes time for her hobby. But if her goal was to exercise more or lose weight, having him as her accountability partner might be stressful: “I might start wondering why he’s pushing me lose weight, and asking myself, “Does he think I’m fat?” It can create all kinds of insecurities.”

My point is, choose your accountability partner carefully based on your goal.

Kevin Daum, an author and columnist for Inc.com says he and a close entrepreneur friend, take an annual four day retreat to determine their futures and hold each other accountable. Kevin gives this checklist for finding an accountability partner:

  • *He or she cannot have a personal stake in your day-to-day life (No employees, creditors, etc.)
  • *He or she should be someone who is highly motivated to achieve his/her own goals, keeps
  •  commitments and stick to the process of holding someone else accountable.
  • *He or she should be someone who does not take shortcuts.
  • *He or she should be someone who knows you well enough to understand you and know your patterns.
  • *He or she should be someone who is not afraid of hurting your feelings when you need a push.
  • *He or she should be someone who is easy to reach.
  • *He or she must be someone you like and trust.


Some people call their accountability partner their best business asset and claim they make greater progress toward goals without getting stuck in ruts and keep from getting out of balance. Others say having an accountability partner just became annoying.

Have you ever tried an accountability coach? If so, what have you found to be the pros and cons?