If you really want to achieve your goals, there’s one powerful step that most people don’t try–using an accountability partner.
Dr. Gayle Matthews, psychology professor at Dominican University, conducted a survey of 267 people from the United States, Europe, Australia and Asia, in various professions. They were randomly assigned to one of five groups and asked to do the following:
- Group 1: Think deeply about the goals you want to accomplish over the next four weeks, but don’t write them down.
- Group 2: Think about and write down these goals.
- Group 3: Write down a list of action items to commit to for each of your written goals.
- Group 4: Send your list of goals and action commitments to a supportive friend.
- Group 5: Do all of the above, but also provide a progress report each week to a supportive friend concerning your goals and action commitments.
And what were the results of this study?
- Group 1 achieved a mere 43% of their goals.
- Groups 2 and 3 achieved 56% of their goals.
- Group 4 achieved 64% of their goals.
- Group 5 achieved 76%, which means they were 33% more likely to achieve their goals than first group!
So the powerful step revealed by this study is to find someone to report to concerning your goals. Just about all of us are socially motivated. Knowing that someone is going to check back with us about what we do gives us one more reason to go after our goals, especially when times get tough.
Which brings us to the question of, Who? Immediate family members usually do not work well, especially spouses, because you’re just too close, too much history and too many feelings involved. It’s a given that you want to find someone who genuinely cares about you and your growth and progress. Mentors and coaches are a great choice, but if that’s not an option, make an agreement with a friend that you will be accountable to each other for a similar goal.
For example, if you and a friend both want to improve your physical fitness, agree that you will both text each other every time you exercise. If your action goal was, say, to exercise 4 times a week, and you fall below that target, your friend could encourage you to step it up, and if you met or exceeded your goal, your friend could give you props. You could even up the ante by throwing in a wager, such as whoever exercises more frequently takes the other person to lunch.
Another idea is to form a social media group with friends who have the same goal as you. For example, I f you all want to make your scripture study more meaningful, you could each post to the group something you learned in the scriptures that week. It would give you a reason to look for something significant while you are studying. In this way you could also learn from each other’s insights. This idea would work well for friends who want to create works of art, such as poetry, painting, song-writing, etc. and then post what you create for the rest of the group to see and give you feedback on. If someone isn’t posting anything, the rest of the group could ask them about what they have in the works.
If your goals don’t lend themselves to these kinds of partnerships, then you can at least share your goals with someone else. Group 4 in the study achieved 64% of their goals, which was a 21% improvement over the first group. This is such an easy thing to do, especially with social media, so you might as well try it!
I believe that there is great power for good in relationships, and that we all depend on and need each other. Let’s harness that energy and power that we give to one another and use it to build things, grow, create wonderful lives, and make this world a better place!