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The Buddy System: 3 Ways to Fool-Proof Your Goals and Make Big Things Happen

December 20, 2021

Thank you to Basecamp for sponsoring this episode.

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Hey friends, and welcome to Episode 108 of It’s About Time – a Podcast sharing stories and strategies to inspire better Work, Life and Balance. I’m your host time management coach, Anna Dearmon Kornick and today’s episode is all about the secret sauce to making your dreams come true. And when I say dreams come true, I’m not talking Cinderella’s castle fairy tales.

I mean real life dreams – landing the dream job. Buying or Building the dream house. Investing in the beach condo, the lake house or the cabin in the woods. Planning – and taking the dream vacation. Hitting that revenue goal. Hitting that profit goal. Climbing the mountain, running the marathon – or whatever it is that gives you that glimmer in your heart and those butterflies in your stomach. 

So let’s say you’ve got your vision for the future. You know what you want life to look like. You’ve taken that vision and you’ve set goals – SMART goals – like we talked about in Episode 107, so you’ve got a clear plan for how you want to get there. That should be enough, right? 

Just get after it and go?

Hold your horses, because there’s one, super critical, final piece of the puzzle for making it all happen.

Accountability. And that’s exactly what we’re talking today in Episode 108.

First, you’re hear:

  • Why accountability is the secret sauce to bringing your goals to the finish line
  • What to look for in an accountability partner and how to make the ask
  • 5 Mistakes we make when working with an accountability partner
  • The ultimate strategy for leveling up your personal and professional life for maximum impact

Ready. Set. Goals!

And while today’s big topic is accountability, the step before accountability is setting good goals. 

If you want to set goals this year, but you’re not sure where to start, or it feels overwhelming. Or you KNOW you need to set goals, but you’re having trouble carving out the time.

If that’s you, then I’ve got something exciting up my sleeve just for you! 

This year, for the first time, I’ve taken my tried and true, past, present, future goal setting process and I’m hosting a LIVE goal setting workshop so you can plan your best year ever and set SMART goals using the exact method that dozens of my 1:1 time management coaching clients have used to map out their goals for the year ahead.

Join me for Ready. Set. Goals! A LIVE 90 minute, interactive goal setting workshop on December 28th. 

In Ready. Set. Goals! We’ll use my simple 3-part system for setting goals with purpose and intention. Setting goals and making a plan for your year doesn’t have to be complicated, stuffy or boring. 

2022 is your year. It’s our year! So join me for Ready. Set. Goals! On December 28th. Yes – that weird week between Christmas and New Years when you don’t know what day it is and you’re living in sweatpants can be the ideal time to get your gameplan for 2022.  Grab your seat at annadkornick.com/goals and let’s do this together!


Let’s play a numbers game. 

42% 

A few years ago, Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California conducted a study on goal setting. She gathered more than 200 professionals together, from all over the world and many different industries and divided them into two groups. People who wrote down their goals. People who didn’t. 

She discovered that those who wrote down their goals on a regular basis achieved their goals at a significantly higher level than those who just kept them in their head. 

In fact, she found that you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals simply by writing them down. 

42% that’s pretty good. 

Now how about 65%

The American Society of Training and Development did a study on accountability. They found that if you commit to someone – tell someone you’re going to do something, like reach a goal – then you’re 65% chance of success.

65% That’s better than 50/50 – those seem like pretty good chances for success.

Last number… 95%.

That same American Society of Training and Development study found that if you have a specific accountability appointment with a person you’ve committed to – in other words – if you have an accountability partner with regular check-in’s, your chance of success jumps all the way up to 95%.

95% is nearly 100% – and I like those odds. 

Accountability isn’t just a “nice to have.” 

If you really want to cross the finish line on your biggest, most important goals and dreams? Having a true accountability set up is absolutely essential.

But if it’s such a nobrainer, then why don’t more of us have accountability partners with regular meetings set up?

Here are 5 common mistakes we make when it comes to setting up an accountability partner relationship and what to do about them. 

1. We don’t ask anyone at all

I get it. Sharing your biggest goals can seem a bit scary. It takes a little vulnerability – and if you’ve never seen Brene Brown’s Ted Talk about The Power of Vulnerability, be sure to check that out ASAP (linked here). But yeah – sharing your goals with someone requires you to admit that you really want something, and asking a partner to keep you accountable is proof that you’re not perfect, that you don’t get everything right the first time, and that you need help – just like every other human on the planet. 

If you’ve ever held back from working with an accountability partner because you don’t want anyone to know that you make mistakes, or because you’re afraid you might fail – I encourage you to ask yourself – what’s the worst that could happen? Maybe you don’t hit the mark, maybe things don’t go as planned – but with an accountability partner with regular check ins, you’re more likely to succeed than you are to fail, and the numbers prove it.

2. We ask the wrong person

When it comes to choosing a potential Accountability Partner, you’ve got to be strategic. The best person to keep you accountable is not always the most obvious choice.

Ok so 10 plus years ago, my roommate and I were training for a half marathon. We were running the same race, using the same training program, and training with the same running group. We had early morning marathon training meet ups with our team before work, and we were supposed to be each other’s accountability partners to make sure we stuck to the training.

Except when my alarm would go off at 4:45 AM so we could make it over to the LSU lakes by 5, I’d grab my phone from my nightstand, and send a text through sleepy eyes to my roommate. “Let’s just skip this one. We’ll be fine.” 

She’d text back from her room across the hall, “Good idea. Let’s do the run after work.” 

Did we do the run after work? No. We didn’t.

We did eventually make it to the finish line, and huffing and puffing, we got our half marathon medals – but it wasn’t pretty because of all those training runs we skipped.

One of the biggest mistakes we can make is asking the wrong person. We ask our roommate, or our spouse, our partner, our best friend, our mom – someone close to us to be our accountability partner. And I’m not saying that any of those people can’t be a great accountability partner – but sometimes when we choose someone who’s so close to us – they might not give it to us straight. They might not hold our feet to the fire. They might cut us too much slack, and as a result, we don’t hit our goals. 

Another big mistake here is that we ask someone who is too busy, who is in a different stage of life, who is in a hard season of life, or something else – and they say yes because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. 

If you start to notice that your buddy is being flakey and letting you slide, or they’re not able to make it to regular check-ins, it might be time to find someone else.

3. We ask too many people

Some might say the more the merrier. The more people you have keeping you accountable, the more power in the accountability. But remember – they key isn’t just committing to someone, it’s having regular check-ins. Do you have time to have multiple regular check-ins with your accountabilities buddies? If it starts to feel like too much, or like you’re repeating yourself over and over again – you’re going to be more likely to get overwhelmed and pull the plug. Keep it simple, get one partner, set up regular check-ins and stick to it. 

4. We don’t set up regular check-ins

I can’t overstate this one enough. The regular check-ins are key to this 95% accountability number. So even though it might feel ridiculous or like overkill, put a weekly or every other weekly phone call on the calendar with your buddy. Use an agenda, discuss the same things, in the same order every time. That’ll keep it from turning into a meandering hour long conversation. 

Here’s a simple 4 point agenda you can use:

Share what you’ve done since your last conversation,

what you’re planning to do next,

any obstacles in your way, and

celebrate your wins. 

5. We aren’t clear about our expectations

Finally – the fifth big mistake we make when it comes to setting up accountability is that we aren’t clear about our expectations. We ask someone “hey – i want to do X, will you be my accountability partner?” And they say, “Sure!” – and then the conversation dies and it never goes  anywhere.

And – this lack of clear expectations is why most accountability partner relationships sputter out. 

Don’t put all of the work on your accountability partner to check in with you, you need to set the framework for this and get it going.

When you’ve found the right person, and you’re ready to make the ask, be ready to share these three things. 

  1. The goal that you want to be held accountable to
  2. How often you want to check-in
  3. What kind of support or feedback you want from them

Now – I want to shift gears and give you another accountability option that takes everything we just talked about to the next level, but it does require you put your money where your mouth is – to make an investment.

Abandoned gym memberships. Yoga pants that have never seen a workout. Online courses purchased and never completed. Making an investment doesn’t always equal taking meaningful action, but the right investment can make all the difference.

And that investment is in working with a coach.

When I read my favorite personal development book, The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan for the first time, I couldn’t believe what I was reading when I got to page 188.  And you’ll find a link to the book in the shownotes. 

They referenced psychologist K. Anders Ericsson’s work “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performence.” and I’m reading straight from the book here so all the credit goes to the authors for this. Here we go: 

An accountability partner will positively impact your productivity. They’ll keep you honest and on track. Just knowing that they are waiting for your next progress report can spur you to better results. Ideally a coach can “coach” you on how to maximize your performance over time. This is how the best become the very best. 

Did you hear that? This is how the best become the very best. 

At the time, I didn’t know much about coaching. And I thought only fancy people or c suite executives worked with coaches, but fortunately that’s not true at all. Anyone can work with a coach and see amazing results.

When you combine the unbiased, deadline-oriented accountability from a coach with the power of investing in yourself – you’ve got a winning combination for making big things happen.

And there you have it my friends. 

If you want to make your big goals happen. If you want to make your dreams come true. It starts with having a vision for the future, the next step is setting SMART goals and making a plan, but you’ll be hard pressed to cross the finish line without accountability in place – whether that’s accountability from a partner that you set up regular check-ins with, or the unbiased, expert accountability of a coach. 

If you’ve got your vision for the future, if you know what you want but you haven’t set goals for 2022 – I’m here to help. 

Join me on December 28th for Ready Set Goals, my LIVE goal setting workshop to walk you through the exact process I use to plan my year, and help make sure your goals are SMART. This is the method I’ve used with dozens of clients to help them walk into the new year feeling confident, with a clear vision for the future, and ready to live with intention. 

We’ll start by looking back and reflecting on the past year. We’ll look around at the here and now. And then we’ll look ahead and set SMART goals with clear expectations and next steps. 

2022 is your year. It’s our year! Consider me your goal setting BFF and join me for Ready. Set. Goals! On December 28th. Grab your seat at annadkornick.com/goals and let’s do this together!

Alright – that’s all for today. Thanks so much for tuning in. Talk to you soon!

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