Will you be my Accountability Buddy?

One of my most influential phases in life was when I had an Accountability Buddy system set up with Stephen Zhao.

We would call each other every day at 7am (Monday-Friday), set goals, follow-up on progress, and teach each other new things. We did this for 2-years straight, eventually discontinuing it as we both focused on working with the mentors that we had found.

As I move on into my next phase of career/business, I’m looking to find a new accountability buddy. In the meantime, I’ve thought to share some of the things that have worked well in our experience doing this.

Any accountability is better than no accountability

Yes, you can ask a friend to be an accountability partner.

It is, however, best to have someone whom you don’t have a strong relationship with, and respect/want to impress as your accountability partner. It’s easier to slack-off/make excuses around friends/family.

Agree on a consistent schedule

You don’t have to be as hardcore as Stephen and I, consistency is key. Find a rhythm that works for you and your partner.

  • Daily?
  • Once a week?
  • Weekly on Monday to set goals, and Friday to report on progress?
  • Anything less frequent typically reduces the effectiveness of the relationship.

Outline a basic framework for meetings

Meetings can be calls/video calls/in-person. All up to you.

To ensure that you’re not just randomly gossiping or complaining about things, use structure to improve your reporting.

Example:

  • Top-3/primary goal(s) for the day/week
  • How did you do with yesterday/last weeks goals?
  • Challenges/things you’d like to learn.
  • Fun fact/teach each other something new.

Use punishments

When I first started this, I was quite resistant to the idea. But seriously, punishments are not meant to happen, if you’re afraid of the punishments, it just goes to show that you’re not truly committed to your goals.

  • They need to be painful enough to incentivize you to follow-through.
  • They shouldn’t be false punishments that have an element of “feel good”
  • e.g. I’ll donate $10 to a charity if I fail to hit that goal (it might actually reverse the effect).
  • You can make them fun but embarrassing:
  • e.g. Shave off your eyebrows, dress in-side out the whole day, donate to a cause that you’re against (anti-vaxxers etc.)
  • You can create a punishment jar with your accountability buddy to spice things up. Randomly draw a punishment from the jar if you don’t hit your goals to really challenge yourself and avoid making excuses.

More on punishments vs. rewards:

In behavioral science, there is this theory known as the Prospect theory — is a behavioral model that shows how people decide between alternatives that involve risk and uncertainty (e.g. % likelihood of gains or losses).

It demonstrates that people think in terms of expected utility relative to a reference point (e.g. current wealth) rather than absolute outcomes.

Prospect theory was developed by framing risky choices and indicates that people are loss-averse; since individuals dislike losses more than equivalent gains, they are more willing to take risks to avoid a loss.

It was developed by Daniel Kahneman (Nobel Prize winner and famous author of ‘Thinking, fast and slow’) and Amos Tversky.

https://www.behavioraleconomics.com/resources/mini-encyclopedia-of-be/prospect-theory/

But be flexible

Acknowledge that goals/measures of success can and should be changed if they no longer serve your purpose/mission or if unforeseen circumstances have caused the goalposts to move.

Don’t just blindly hit goals for the sake of hitting them.

That said, recognize when changes could be excuses in disguise vs. necessary.

Teach each other something new

It also forces you to learn something new yourself and helps foster a continuous growth mindset.

Challenge each other

  • To think bigger.
  • To stretch your goals/metrics.
  • To go outside your comfort zone and try new things.

My challenge to you

And to wrap it up — if you’re looking for an accountability buddy, comment below and I’ll do my best to match you up with someone else who might be a fit. No strings attached, no fees, not selling anything here.

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Startup go-to-market and sales specialist, father, avid packrafter

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Chang Chin Hing

Chang Chin Hing

Startup go-to-market and sales specialist, father, avid packrafter

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