Spring has sprung! For me, Spring signifies a period of growth and new beginnings, which means now is a great time to take stock of the goals and plans you made for 2017. How are you progressing? Are you where you thought you’d be at this point in time? If not, perhaps you could use a helping hand.
Studies show that you are more likely to stay on course if you have an equally committed individual, or group of individuals that share your goals and values. People who can help keep you accountable. In other words, an accountability group.
The Benefits of an Accountability Group
Having peers with a similar “why” gives us a space to talk openly, share experiences, challenge each other and provide feedback. A peer group can also provide support to a fellow group member, assist in personal growth and help identify one’s strengths and weaknesses. This allows us to develop a deeper sense of self-awareness, self-compassion and authenticity as we navigate through areas of life and work.
Humans are social animals. No matter how much self-discipline we possess, the challenges we face can be better handled with the support of others. Having a small group of people with whom we can share our hopes, feelings and desires with, not only helps build emotional rapport, but also motivates us to achieve more in our personal endeavors. Ultimately, the need or urgency to change and improve ourselves is simply not there if we are comfortable where we are. We are more inclined to reach for higher, when we are challenged by our peers and able to discuss our ideas openly.
Where to Start?
Let’s get practical. Think of the goals you want to accomplish in the next year, and the habits that you want to implement to get there. What are the actions you will take that will ensure that you stay on track?
- If it is losing weight, join a weight loss group that is congruent with how you want to go about losing weight.
- If it being able to walk/run a 5k, join a walking/running group or get a dog!
- If it is learning to play a musical instrument, hire a teacher that will come to your house and will keep you accountable to practice.
- If it is learning another language, join a local group so you can learn with others, practice and have fun in the process.
- If it is to be able to meditate daily, joint a local meditation group.
I would also suggest taking an inventory of your friends to determine who has already succeeded at what you are trying to achieve. Consider reaching out to them!
- For weight loss, how about the friend you always admired because he/she has had a steady weight for 20 years and is eating healthy?
- For walking/running, how about the friend who has been doing it for years and would be more than happy to go with you?
- For languages, how about your friends that speak the language you want to learn? They will be more than happy to practice their mother tongue with you!
- For meditation, is it your friend that has been practicing meditation for years and has tools and insight to help you?
- Maybe you could go to a meditation retreat with her/him. More often than not, people are thrilled to help you with the things that they are already good at!
And what about friends working towards similar goals? They may not have everything figured out, but pairing up with someone on a similar journey can be just as useful as partnering with an “expert” in that area. Why? They know exactly what you are going through, and can be a great sounding board when things get tough—encouraging you to keep at it!
All this said, group members don’t necessarily have to be working towards the exact same goal. As long as everyone in the group is working towards something and you share the similar values, you can support one another’s efforts.
How To Start Your Own Accountability Group
Now that you’ve figured out who you would like to include in your group, it’s time to start recruiting! But before that, you need to be clear on what your expectations are. What are your values? What is it that you want to accomplish? What kind of people do you want to surround yourself with? Being sure in yourself and what you hope to achieve out of your accountability group sets the tone for the type of members you will be recruiting.
Gathering a compatible group that has good chemistry and relatability may be a difficult process, and some prior screening of members’ values, goals and commitment level may have to be done to ensure your group’s success. Remember, you aren’t building a typical social group. You are building a group of positive, motivated people who can commit to meeting regularly, and want everyone in the group to succeed. This means that you may have to exclude some people. Like your Debbie Downer best friend, or your Sister, the business owner, who can’t be on time to save her life.
Once your group is formed, it is important to get a rhythm going. Together, you need to determine:
- How often and when you will speak;
- How often you will meet in person;
- Ground rules for the group;
- Your main method of communication.
It’s also important to take time to understand each individual’s tendencies and communication styles. This not only helps accountability calls and rendez-vous go smoother, but also helps to not impose our own way of thinking onto others. Ultimately, we are there to help the other person grow and feel accepted, not to pressure them to make decisions that we believe is right for them. Fortunately, there are tons of exercises available that can help your group members get well-acquainted. For example, a lifeline exercise, where you map out major events that have occurred over your lifetime, is a sure way to get to know each other on a deeper level in an accelerated way. Another great tool to keep each other accountable and help each other set goals is the EOS The Personal Plan which can be found on the EOS website (can be accessed in tools upon opt-in on www.eosoworldwide.com).
Some other key things to remember to ensure your group’s longevity are as follows:
- Respect and confidentiality – Depending on the level of intimacy of the group, some pretty touchy subjects or personal information may be shared. It is crucial to maintain your group members’ respect and trust by keeping this information to yourself and respecting opposing opinions, even if it may seem like a minor detail! Remember this group has formed on the basis of trust, and you do not want to compromise that. What is said on the call stays on the call.
- Keep the egos aside – Sometimes in such settings, weekly calls can turn into a boasting match on who has achieved more. This does not serve the purpose of an accountability group. Although some feeling of competition may be healthy, this group has formed to help each other develop, not just oneself.
- Things may change over time – Goals change, priorities change, and often people change. Sometimes a group member no longer fits in with the goals and values of the group. This individual may even be you, and you must be strong enough to realize when to pull out when something is no longer helping your growth.
- Stay dedicated – The reason why certain groups fall apart sometimes is due to the lack of dedication to participating by the members. Vacations, sick days, and neglecting the group’s routine are all contributing factors. Make an effort to stay accountable to your accountability group! Remember they are there to help you grow!
Inspired to Start Your Own Group?
Given these reasons, it’s important that you have a mindset of accountability from the start. The whole concept of accountability groups may sound very business and productivity-driven, and I always said that if we conducted our personal lives more like businesses we would indeed be more successful, but it does not have to be. What personal goals do you have that may be shared with others? From eating better, being more present for your family, making more financially wise decisions, sticking to a workout routine or trying things you never have before. Remember that accountability is building a culture of trust and not fear. Your goal is not to punish and look for errors and mistakes. Instead, you seek to open up multiple feedback mechanisms, fill in gaps, improve on solutions, reward productive behavior, and remove unproductive ones. Ultimately, it is just another tool to help you develop the right habits and be more motivated to be your best self!