Yes, you probably do.
Maybe you want to lose weight. Find a partner. Leave a partner. Get a better handle on managing your emotions, start a business, run a marathon.
Whatever it is you want to change – it’s not going to be easy.
I’ve accomplished some big things that took a lot more effort than opening a bag of chips and binge watching Netflix (which, left in my natural state, I could do all day). Writing two books, opening a retail store, creating a freelance writing business and being a very intentional parent.
This shit took work. And a lot of the time, I didn’t want to do the work.
I’ve used all sorts of motivational tricks. Two of my favourite, from the book The Willpower Instinct, are publically announcing I was going to do something, and visualizing myself failing. I actually find the dread of failure more motivating than daydreaming about success. But by far my most successful trick is having an accountability partner.
I had accountability partners before I knew that there was a name for it (apparently it’s a concept rooted in religion and I’m an atheist, so I just hadn’t heard of it).
My accountability partners were a couple of friends I could be 100% authentic and vulnerable with, that I could text and request a no holds barred kick in the ass. When I was seeing a counselor regularly, those trusted friends knew everything the counselor wanted me to work on, and it was a hell of a lot cheaper going to them for advice and asking them for the reality check than the $180 an hour counselor.
I stumbled on this great article about accountability partners and how to choose one. Basically, you want someone with some experience with what you’re going through, or at least the ability to empathize and related their different experiences in a way that resonates. You want someone honest, and someone you can trust with your deepest fears.
I have an accountability relationship with a friend right now where we’re learning together. I had a rough year in 2015 and gained weight well outside my comfort zone, and she’s working on getting down to a healthier weight as well. We have fitness goals as well – I’m going to run a half marathon in September, and a full marathon on my 39th birthday next year. We’re following the realistic advice set out in James Fell’s Lose it Right book, and I’m leaning on a few more experienced runners in my social circle for advice.
One of the best side effects of having an accountability partner is the deeper relationship I’ve built with these friends. In her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, my hero Brene Brown, says that “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
Whatever it is you want to accomplish, find a friend to help you do it. Let them see you.