The Importance of an Accountability Partner

by Dan on November 3, 2009

When I first got the Goals & Resistance course (by the Release Technique), one of the requirements was to have a partner the whole way through.  You’d talk to this person every day to make sure you’re doing the exercises and staying on your path.

I wasn’t sure this was so necessary at first, but within a couple weeks I realized how essential it was.  The path to growth can be exhausting, frustrating, and often lonely.  As Deepak Chopra points out, your spiritual experiences are entirely your own, so it can be tough not having someone to share them with.

Having a partner through the course made it a lot easier.  While my own spiritual experiences can never truly be expressed, having someone going through something similar made the challenges look more doable.

However, you don’t need to be on an intense 6 week course to have an accountability partner.  All you really need is a project that has others on a parallel path.  You find someone who is doing the same thing, and keep in touch regularly to make sure you both are pursuing your goals consistently.  This could be someone you’re already friends with, or someone you meet at a networking event.  Meetup.com groups are especially good for finding people like this.

Here are some examples of where an accountability partner can be useful:

  • Entrepreneurs
  • Writers
  • Musicians
  • Christians or other religious people who need assistance to follow moral laws which do not feel natural to them.
  • Former alcoholics or drug users
  • Athletes or people working to get into good shape
  • Singles who haven’t had a date in too long, and need a bit of a shove to go out and meet new people.

For a number of weeks, I talked to my accountability partner (currently Lindsay), every day, but now we just touch base every week or a couple times a week.  If one of us has an ongoing challenge, we’ll talk a couple days in a row.

The benefits of this are more than comfort.  We can often get into slumps where we lose sight of our mission and what practices were formerly working for us.

I’ll give you an example of a conversation I had today with Lindsay.

Dan:  Lindsay, I’m just getting fed up with this goal stuff.  I feel like I’ve been floundering around and nothing’s really getting done.

Lindsay:  Dan, you sound pretty negative the last couple days.  Your ego is out of control.  Have you actually been doing your goal charts every day?

Dan:  Well no… I haven’t.

Lindsay:  Then the problem isn’t that they’re not working, it’s that they work and you refuse to do them.

Dan:  Yeah… I’m getting sucked into my escapes again.

Lindsay:  Like what?

Dan:  You know, watching TV, instant messaging online, more alcohol than usual (one or two drinks a night, not more than that).  Pretty much everything I got rid of during the course.

Lindsay:  Well, that’s your problem.  You’re drowning in your escapes. See, the ego’s got you again.  You need to get back on the schedule you were on during the Goals & Resistance Course.

Dan:  You know, you’re right.  I need to cut all the escapes out again for at least a couple days, maybe even a week.

Linsday:  Two weeks!

Dan:  Ok, ok.  Two weeks.  No TV, instant messaging, alcohol… and … that’s it.

Lindsay:  And none of those… Twinkies or whatever it is you eat.

Dan:  Sigh… Swiss Cake Rolls.  I was hoping you wouldn’t remember those.  I bought a pack yesterday.

Lindsay:  I knew it.  Remember, you can have those things if you’re having fun, but you’re not even enjoying having them.  You’re miserable the rest of the time.

Dan:  You’re right, it’s silly.  These escapes are like crack.  They feel good, but just bring you down once you depend on them.

Lindsay:  Exactly! It’s just like crack.

Dan:  It’s a little harder cause all my shows started up.  That’s kind of funny though, that I’d prefer to watch Grey’s Anatomy over having freedom.

Lindsay: Haha! The idea of watching TV instead of getting wealth and happiness.  It’s so funny.

Dan:  Thanks a lot, Lindsay.  I’ll check in with you tomorrow.

Lindsay:  Anytime.

What Lindsay was able to do here was point out where I was going wrong, after I’d lost my way a little bit.  My ego had blindfolded me, and she was guiding me back to the path so I could regain my bearings.

I do this for Lindsay too when she’s having a bad week.  In fact, mutuality is essential in this type of partnership.  You may find sometimes that you have friends who lean on you consistently to get them back where they need to be, and this is not an ideal relationship.  Similarly, if you’re leaning on someone else all the time, it’s not a great deal either.  The person who is providing the support inevitably gets annoyed or resentful if the person isn’t providing any value back.  This is why it’s good to link up with people who are on a similar level to where you are, and be open to change partners, if you find that your commitments and wisdom are too far apart at this point.

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