One of the most powerful tools for building consistency in our habits is accountability. Having someone or something tracking our progress and measuring our success is huge in maintaining motivation. While this sounds simple, it is often something we neglect in our habit formation. To be vulnerable with others about our bad habits is intimidating--and that’s normal, BUT there is so much freedom that comes with being open and honest with someone that you trust.
As we build positive habits that replace and reshape our negative ones, accountability is necessary. Accountability is part of the bedrock of habit formation. Providing consistency, check-ins, and reflection, accountability will help ensure your success in building a new habit or defeating an old one.
In this blog, we will walk through the three types of accountability you need to implement and how to integrate them into your habit journey.
- Check-in Accountability
- Group Accountability
#1 “Check-in” Accountability
Having someone check-in on your habit establishes a rhythm that goes beyond your own individual efforts. We are naturally inclined to desire companionship. For this reason, inviting someone to be a part of supporting your habit can have a big impact on your long term success and personal motivation.
“Collaborating with an accountability partner can assist you in forming new habits. Naturally, human beings need to be pushed to make concerted efforts along the line of their goal. Achieving your goal may become a burden when you are isolated from a group.” - Leon Ho
Invite others into your journey. This person could be a friend, mentor, co-worker, spouse, family member, or whoever you trust will be supportive in your goal.
Ask them to check in on you. This could be a simple text, call, FaceTime, or meet up- whatever integrates well into your schedules. Having a set list of questions is helpful for keeping the conversation/accountability focused and helpful.
- Tell them about the new habit you are forming, why you want to build it, and your plan to tackle it
- Invite them, if they are willing, to check in on your progress regularly. If you are using the SMART Habits Framework, having a clear timeline will help your accountability partner understand the expectations.
- Pro hack: set up calendar reminders with them as a guest so that it’s simple for them to follow up at pre-selected intervals.
You can be your own coach. Commitment and motivation starts with your self-talk and own effort. Establishing routines throughout your life to keep you on pace to your goals is essential in finding success. Lasting habits start with creating strong routines.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away. This popular expression indicates that apples are good for one’s health, and highlights the importance of routinely eating them. Often the message individuals take away from the apple-a-day health advice is to eat more apples. However, perhaps the more important take away message is to eat nutritious foods regularly. The term lifestyle change inherently means that changes are made such that they can be followed for the lifetime of an individual.” - Katherine R. Arlinghaus, Craig A. Johnston (NCBI)
Establishing ways to measure your progress and keep yourself consistent is always helpful, regardless of others involvement. Self accountability can take form in many ways. Here's a few to get you started:
- Follow a program & set a goal date.
- Finding and using a guided program can be helpful in removing some of the pressure around your habit. There are lots of programs available for reading, exercising, eating, addiction killing, etc. Likely, whatever habit you are trying to do, someone has made a program to help. Figure out a realistic timeline for completing the program, then set a goal date on your calendar (30 days is the best starting point) .Like having a project deadline coming up, you have to keep on track to complete it in time.
- Use a Habit Tracker.
- Use a habit tracker tool to visually track your daily progress. For the visual learners, this is a very effective way to see your habit journey. Habit Trackers are a way to see the days that you had success and the days that were hard, by filling in a section each day you did your habit and leaving a day blank when you didn’t do your habit. Here’s a video explaining how they work:
- Create milestone rewards.
- Set up significant milestones of your habit progress and create a small reward for yourself if you complete that. For example, if you do your habit all week, you get your favorite chocolate on Sunday. But if you don’t do it all week, you do not. For example, I’ve done this by motivating myself to exercise with a personal rule that I get to watch an episode of my favorite show after my workout is complete. But if I don’t workout, I don’t get to watch. The rule has to always go both directions.
- Set Reminders.
- On your phone, in your calendar, or on sticky notes on your mirror, create ways to remind yourself of your habit throughout everyday life. Sometimes it’s just easy to forget your goals. Remind yourself of your reason for pursuing this new habit.
#3 Group Accountability
Similar to having someone as an accountability partner that’s checking in, group accountability is a way to establish rhythms with others to keep you motivated. Working with a group can often mean a little bit more flexibility in schedule, as more people are sharing the responsibility of checking-in on your progress. Often this looks like finding others who are working towards the same goal.
Sometimes, strangers are just as good as close friends for keeping us motivated! Find a group, a live class, program, or team to join for your habit formation journey. Group accountability is a very helpful tool. Other people that don’t know us well, that are also moving towards a goal, can offer more objective and less-emotionally charged feedback to help encourage and motivate us.
Fundamentally, what is important is creating a space of support for your habit formation journey. This also gives you an opportunity to be an encouragement and support to others! Sharing our struggles and triumphs is powerful!
To wrap it up…
Accountability can look like a lot of different things. Whether it’s a friend, yourself, or a group aiding you along your habit journey, remember accountability builds consistency, and consistency builds lasting habits.
- Accountability is a powerful tool for habit consistency & motivation
- Being honest about your negative habits and plan can lead to lasting results
- Trust the closest people in your life and invite them into your journey
- Be your own accountability
- Find others who are on the same journey and support each other
Don’t wait to start your habit! Positive daily actions today build a better world for everyone tomorrow. You have the power to create change in your life and move towards your goals.
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- Leon Ho, How to Build New Habits with an Accountability Partner, retrieved Feb 10, 2021 from https://www.lifehack.org/862621/accountability-partner
- Katherine R. Arlinghaus, Craig A. Johnston (NCBI), The Importance of Creating Habits and Routine, retrieved on February 10, 2021 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6378489/