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by Derek Loosvelt | June 12, 2019

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It's nearly July, which means half the year is over, which means all those resolutions we made back in January are likely nothing but distant memories. Typically, why most of our resolutions fade out or burn away is we don't have the will power, on our own, to follow through.

Let's think about the following for a minute: How many things in our lives have we accomplished completely on our own without the help of having been accountable to someone else? This includes parents and guardians with the power to discipline us. This includes coaches and teachers with the power to bench and fail us. This includes managers and employers with the power to fire us and pay us less.

Not many things, right?

To be sure, some of us were lucky enough to have been born with the will power to accomplish things on our own without having to be accountable to a deadline or anyone else. But the vast majority of us don't have this luxury. And at some point in our lives, well after we graduate college, we'll come up against this unfortunate fact when we want to accomplish something. At that point, we'll find out that there's no longer anyone but ourselves to hold us accountable. And that's when we often find out that, by ourselves, we're unable to do what we set out to do, unable to accomplish what we want to accomplish.

That's the bad news. The good news is there's a trick that can help us gain will power and gain it fast. Actually, it might be more accurate to say there's a trick that will help us borrow will power. And that's where something called an accountability partner comes in.

What's an accountability partner?

An accountability partner is someone we ask to hold us accountable to do the things we say we want to do, to reach the goals we want to reach. An accountability partner gives us deadlines that we have to meet, and if we don't meet them, we have to answer to our partner, not just ourselves. The hope is by using an accountability partner, we're more likely to follow through and accomplish the goals we set for ourselves.

Ideally, an accountability partner will be someone who wants an accountability partner, too. That way, our partner can hold us accountable, and we can hold our partner accountable. Note that our accountability partners don't necessarily have to have the same goals or desired accomplishments as us. However, it can't hurt if goals and desired accomplishments do align.

How to use an accountability partner

Let's say you want to get a new job, a better job, maybe a job with more advancement opportunities and better pay. At a glance, it doesn't sound all that difficult and time consuming. Send out some resumes and cover letters or maybe just your LinkedIn profile, and soon enough you'll get a few interviews, and soon enough you'll get hired. Well, as it turns out, and as some of you already know, there are numerous steps you need to take before you get a good job offer, and the process can take quite a while. Several weeks, many months, even a year or more.

Consider all these steps that need to be taken: Reworking your resume. Getting a solid, general cover letter together. Updating your LinkedIn profile. Scrubbing your social media feeds. Practicing your interviewing skills and answers to general interview questions. Researching industries, companies, and job listings. Creating specific cover letters and/or additional information that some applications require. Going on interview after interview. Writing thank-you notes.

In other words, there’s a lot to do when applying for jobs, and the sheer amount of work required can be overwhelming. Also note that you have to do all of the above while continuing to exceed (or, at least, meet) expectations at your current job.

Which is where an accountability partner comes in. Say that you and your partner (a friend) both want new jobs. If that's the case, what you do is you set some weekly goals for each other and you each agree to meet them (on your way to your ultimate goals of landing new jobs).

Here's an example of a timeline you might set (say that you agree to start on a Monday):

By midnight on Sunday of Week 1: You've sent each other your updated resumes.

By midnight on Sunday of Week 2: You've sent each other your updated general cover letters.

By midnight on Sunday of Week 3: You've each finished your LinkedIn updates and sent each other links to your new and improved LinkedIn presence. Also, you've each finished getting rid of all unsavory images and text on your social feeds.

At 4 p.m. on Sunday of Week 4: You meet with your partner and each spend 45 minutes asking the other common interview questions (like the strengths and weaknesses question, the walk me through your resume question, the why should I hire you question, etc.). This means you have each spent time prior to meeting to prepare and practice your answers.

By midnight on Sunday of Week 5: You've each applied to three new jobs and cc'd your partner your applications (or somehow sent proof that you have applied).

By the end of Week 6: You each have reached out to one person in your LinkedIn networks and made appointments to meet with these people to discuss your goals of finding new jobs.

You get the idea. Instead of you, all alone, trying to find a new job, with only yourself accountable, you have a partner who will hold you accountable. Doing so, you'll be more likely to follow through. The reason is you'll feel terrible if you don't follow through while your partner does. You'll also feel terrible having to tell your partner that you failed (it's so much easier to tell ourselves that we failed).

A final note (or two)

It’s important to point out that accountability partners can be used for much more than finding a new job. They can also be used to help you further your side hustle, maybe even turn your side hustle into your main hustle. And they can be used to improve certain skills, such as writing and public speaking skills. As mentioned above, you don't have to have the same goals as your partner. So, for example, you could be looking for a new job, and your partner could be writing her novel. You each make timelines and deadlines appropriate to your goals and hold each other to them.

It's also important to note that when creating your weekly (or daily or monthly) goals with your accountability partner that you start out small. At first, set targets that are relatively easy to meet. Then, later, you can ramp them up. You'll notice that, over time, as you start to hit your weekly targets, it'll get easier and easier to hit them. By continuing to hit your targets, you build momentum and will power and you'll be capable of doing much more.

Eventually, after a lot of hard work and meeting targets, you'll have so much power that it's possible you won't need a partner. You'll have enough power to follow through on your own.

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