Accountability systems: A few fresh ideas

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Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

This is the last post in a 5-part series on goal setting just in time for the new year.

So far we’ve talked about your goal-setting personality, how to find goals to cover all aspects of your life, and how to reverse engineer those goals so that you know what it takes to get them done. Today, we talk about some accountability systems that you can use to keep you on track with your goals and hopefully some of them are new to you.

1 – Hire accountability

Since I’ve left college I’ve tried to have accountability partners in my workout escapades and it hasn’t worked out. Not once.

I’m not saying it won’t work for you, but it just hasn’t worked for me. Reasons? Nobody wants to workout when I do (at the crack of freaking dawn for some damn reason?), I can’t keep up with them and feel like an out-of-shape lardy around them, or we don’t want to do the same workouts.

I’ve tried using my hubs for this and that doesn’t work either because I just get mad at him for pointing out that I missed my workout. (I am THE BEST spouse ever, BTW.)

According to Gretchen Rubin, in her book The Four Tendencies, she says that having a family member be your accountability partner often doesn’t work because you don’t see them as “external”. You see them as a part of you. Which is probably why I got mad at hubs for calling me on my shit. I knew I missed a workout and I didn’t need my “other self” pointing it out. (Like I said. BEST spouse EVER.)

And, even when I do find an accountability partner, as soon as they quit working out, I’m done. I might hang in there and give the ole college try for a few more workouts, but without somebody expecting me to do my stuff, it doesn’t happen. Cough. Obliger. Cough.

So, if you want a solid accountability partner and you haven’t had much luck finding one, I suggest hiring somebody to do it.

Craigslist: I read Onward The Absolute No B.S. Raw Ridiculous Sour-Stirring Truth About Training for Your First Marathon by Brook Kreder a 5 years ago and in there she talks about how when she was training, she put an ad out on Craigslist for somebody to be her trail aid: somebody to have water for her at various stops and take care of her on these long runs. She was amazed at how easy it was to find somebody to do this job for her and how cheap it was. (You can checkout my super short review of that book on Goodreads.)

So, you could go on Craigslist and hire an accountability partner. Just lay out what you expect from them and how much you’ll pay. Probably run a background check on them before you hire them, just in case.

Go Pro: Craigslist creep you out? Another option: Hire a personal trainer or accountability coach. This is not necessarily a cheap investment, so make sure they know that you need them to check in on you. Get a plan in place. Don’t assume that by hiring them they will automatically keep you in check. If this seems like something you’re interested in, you might like I haven’t tried it yet, but seems like a viable place to start.

2 – Find a group

A group of people to hold you accountable is far more likely to succeed than a single person – no single-point of failure! If a group doesn’t already exist that meets your needs, create one.

I have done this in my past and it has worked well for me and most other members of the group. Unfortunately, I had set the group up in such a way that it was more overhead for me than what I had bargained for and I grew tired. But, now I’ve discovered an easier way to do it:

Create a Facebook group: You’re already on Facebook, so why not use it for something useful rather than just scrolling through your feed? You can create a private group in Facebook where you and your remote pals get together for the sole purpose of keeping each other on track. No more annoying all your friends with your workout posts. Do it in your group and be guilt free.

Here are the instructions on how to do it.

Put some ground rules down though. If your friends join the group, make sure they know that they are supposed to comment on at least n updates a day (where n depends on the size of your group and how active you want it to be). Don’t let folks hide in the shadows. Help them be active members and help move themselves and everybody else forward. Afterall, how will your accountability group work if you’re the only one cheering folks on?

Join my Facebook group: If you prefer to just join a group, you can join my group. We don’t need to be Facebook friends, but you do need to be a subscriber of this blog to get in. You can also join at any time. Just go the the group page and request to join.

Incidentally, when I created that group this morning, I also created a Facebook page for this blog, so be sure to check that out if you’re interested.

Disclaimer: I just set this group up this morning, so don’t be shocked if it’s just you and I in there for now. O_o

Check Meetup: Check for local meetups about a goal you’re working on. For example, if your goal is to write more, check to see if there is a writing meetup in your area. These are free to join.

Join Better: If you dig Gretchen Rubin and buy into the idea of her four tendencies (we talked about these here), be sure to check out her new app Better.

In Better there are many groups for you to join for your particular tendency so that you can have the most success. I’ve been using it for about a week now and it seems to be a truly supportive group. Keep in mind that you get what you put into it. If you join and just lurk, you’re not going to be impressed. So, if you go this route, be an active member. Post comments and suggestions and check in with your groups that you join. Own it.

You can also create a private group on Better. I haven’t done this yet, but I know it’s an option.

3 – Use a habit tracker

Homemade habit tracker: I’m a bullet journaler and am very familiar with the idea of a habit tracker in a notebook. Here are a bunch of images of this.

I’ve used habit trackers in my bujo before and they can be effective as long as you check in everyday. It can be very satisfying to check those boxes or fill them in. However, if you only access that tracker on weekdays or just weekends, that habit tracker may not be so effective. So, if you decide to go this route, be sure to keep it handy.

You can also use a wall calendar for this and use Seinfeld’s streak method. Not only is this a very visual way to see where you’re showing up, but if you hang it in a spot you see every day, you can’t avoid it. #winning

Use a habit tracker app: There are many habit tracker apps and some apps have habit trackers built into them. For example, if you use Headspace or Calm for meditation, they have a “streak” measurement built in for you so that you can see those days tick up or that calendar get marked each time you meditate.

But, there are also apps for tracking any habit you’re working on. Lifehacker has pulled together a nice list of options.

4 – Play a game

Try Mindbloom: Mindbloom is an online app that kind of works like those Giga Pets from about 2 decades ago. But instead of having a “pet” die when you didn’t press buttons on the keyfob, in Mindbloom you do the thing you said you were going to do and your plant flourishes. You don’t, your plant gets sad and dies.

If you’re an Obliger and are motivated by other things depending on you to complete your habits, this may be a fun way to do it.

Join Nerd Fitness: Nerd Fitness is an online game geared towards nerds that want to get fit. It’s quite brilliant: you workout, level up, and progress through the fitness adventure. Check it out if you resonate with that crowd. It costs money, but once you sign up, you’re in for life.

It looks like they have a newer program now called Rising Heroes in addition to the standard Nerd Fitness that looks interesting.

Try Fitocracy: Fitocracy is another free gaming system you can use to help you stay consistent. You earn points, level up, get badges, do challenges, and go on quests when you workout. There’s an online community and groups you can join to stay accountable. I am a Fitocrat so we can connect up if you want (my Fitocrat name is PattyM, just send me a message to let me know you found me via my blog so I know who you are). If you join up, use my promo code and get $20 towards their coaching program. (Full disclosure, I also get $20 towards coaching when you use my link).


Those are my favorite ways to stay accountable right now. Let me know in the comments if you have other ways. I’m always looking for more tools to add to my toolbelt.

This sums up the goal setting series. You can catch earlier posts on my new Recent posts page that you’ll find in the left nav or you can use this handy list right here:

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