Accountability

Do you find yourself unable to commit to project or goal? It’s the creative struggle, especially if a goal is long-term or you are experimenting and trying a new approach to working, or even when its something that you really want to do, but struggle to focus on it. This is where you need an accountability partner.

This is a follow-up to article #04: Why I Stopped Caring About What Others Think. Where I talked about not caring what outsiders think of your work and your approach. They don’t know your set of circumstances surrounding your work and your approach to your work, your processes and your decisions.

The only person you should listen to is an accountability partner, they are a person you open up to, you ask for their feedback and you let them into your working life, your values and approach to your work. It all comes down to your goals, how you view them, and what you want from an accountability partner.

When you let yourself and your goals down, it doesn’t matter to anyone, because no one knows about them, it’s different if you commit publicly, your reputation is on the line, this is a form of accountability also. It’s a motivator, if you fail to turn up and deliver on the goals you set publicly, you leave people to question your ability to work, and your ability to commit to work.

When you let someone else down, it carries a much greater weight than if you let yourself down.

Make it feel like you owe a person, out of respect, you owe it to them to follow through, because they are dedicating their time for you, time that would probably go to good use elsewhere. In this case, letting yourself down, also lets your accountability partner down.

If you want an accountability partner, you must establish your values and also your potential partners values, you don’t have to be on board with every value they have, but you should understand each other, your workflow, the approach to work, the process you both have and be respectful of these values.

You need to find someone who is at a similar experience level to you in your field. You should both be at a similar progress in careers. You will know what level someone is at by their work, their website, their proficiency at working, the quality of what they do, the consistency, do they produce videos, podcasts, articles, photography, all at the same time?

Here is the important part. An accountability partner can’t be a friend. It can’t be a relative, a family member or a person you have a strong relationship with already. You have to view this as a business. Not to say that you can’t be friends. But for the reasons I stated earlier, your friends wont think less of you for letting your goals down, they already hold high respect for them, even if you feel that your letting them down and wasting their time, they will still regard you and your work as high, it still doesn’t carry as much weight as if it was with a person in your industry who pursues a similar passion to you or is in the same field. You don’t want to waste the time of someone like this.

Go to forums, online communities. Better yet, do it in person, go to conferences, meetups, galleries, speaking events etc. Making a connection on a face to face, personal level is so much more valuable to both of you than by meeting a person solely online.

More than likely, these people will share the same outlook and values as you. If your going to a speaker / conference, its highly possible that the majority of people are there for the same reason. Talk to people, make connections, network, share stories, share struggles, triumphs, insight, exchange handles, check in with each other, meet up occasionally.

Once you have an accountability partner, someone you can report to and make commitments to follow through on, this person doesn’t have to know the full extent of your ins and outs, you don’t have to divulge the secrets of your work. It’s a meeting essentially.What are the struggles you both have. Report and check in of the commitments and record the progress you made on your current goal. Write down and define what progress should be made for the next time you check in with each other.

A couple of things to note;

– Be respectful of others time, you don’t want to waste it.

– Be encouraging of that person, let them strive to do the work and back them up positively. A kind word goes a long way.

Accountability partners can be for a number of things; waking early, doing tasks on your website, writing, blog posts, anything you have a goal for.  You use them as a source to report back to on your progress with a task or goal.

If they mess up, or don’t fulfil a task. The consequences are totally at your discretion. But refer back to what I just mentioned, be positive, be encouraging. More than likely they will have the tasks done out of motivation and respect for your time, insight and feedback. Be constructive with the feedback, be positive, and try not to be subjective about an observation of their work. Understand that they made that decision for a reason.

Think of it this way, how bad would you feel at your meeting with this person if you didn’t have your work / commitment fulfilled and the other person did. You would feel like your wasting their time, you also run the risk of them questioning your ability to commit to a task and your ability to follow through.

It’s important to have a positive motivator, think of it as, if I have this work done, it’s a benefit to my site / portfolio / progress on my current goal. But also solidifies the idea that you can do something if you really work at it and put your mind to it. Having the work done is the reward in itself.