We as humans tend to have these dreams that we find ourselves ruminating over for months, years, decades and we often do not ever act upon them. These dreams tend to be filed away in our brain’s darkest corners due to our own insecurities because we do not know how to put them into action, or we just don’t trust that this dream is feasible. This, of course, is absolute nonsense! Whether your goal is to be fit, eat healthily, start a blog, start a business, learn tap dancing, or go to the moon, for it to become a reality it needs to stop being a dream and become a goal. Goals are different from dreams because they require a plan of action or accountable system to keep you on track to get to your destination. However, the plan itself may not be enough to keep you going. This is why new year’s resolutions go stale after a short period of time, why after the first 3 weeks of exercise you go back to your old habits, and why it is so hard to stick to the goal you set.
A wonderful hack to avoid falling into this trap is to find an accountability buddy who will not only cheer you on but be genuinely interested in your progress and serve as a reality check resource.
Why being accountable works
It is in our nature to work harder when we know that we are expected to do something or deliver something. Think about it! When was the last time you took up an online course just for yourself? Why have you worked so hard to excel in your academics or sports? Why do you strive to be a productive member of society? Chances are that all these behaviors are influenced by your immediate surroundings and what you think is expected of you. Now, I could spend all day talking about how freeing it is to renounce all these societal pressures for a happier self, but today we are going to talk about how to use them to your benefit.
The second step after converting dreams to goals and make them real is to state them out loud. I say real with emphasis because you will often find a distinction between those things we dream about doing and those we actually do. A friend once said, “your friends and family want you to succeed and want to support you in everything you set out to do” and if they don’t, I am sorry but you need better friends. Speaking about your goal to friends and family is one of the most effective ways to make it real because these people are now going to expect you to do these things.
Fear of failure can be one of the reasons why we tend to hold our dreams inside and fail to articulate them to our loved ones. We think of what mom will say when this dream does not pan out or how our colleagues will look at us if things do not go according to plan. These are very valid feelings, but I like to think that invariably many things fail but even if they fail that does not mean you are a failure. You learn and adapt from your experiences and everything happens for a reason. Learning to ignore the inherent fear of failure will liberate you in your quest to conquer your goals.
Accountability buddies for the win!
Engaging an accountability buddy in your journey is a wonderful and invaluable addition. I personally wish I had implemented this way sooner. The buddy ideally should be someone who can check up on your progress, cheer you on when you are having a tough day, and help you troubleshoot when you get stuck. Not only will you find yourself more motivated to do your work, but in those days when you feel like you want to skip your work, it will be harder to indulge because your accountability buddy will be expecting a report!
Finding an accountability buddy can be a daunting task, especially if you are an introverted individual. There are many apps out there that are designed to provide a certain level of accountability like the multitude of habit trackers in the store and their varied versions of the Duolingo mascot and its scary messages. However, I find that there is no substitute for real human connection.
Reaching out to someone close to you can be the easiest way to establish this relation. You should always look at having it be a two-way street so both parties find benefit in this new dynamic. The goals do not need to be the same, but both sides should be able to fulfill the requirements. If reaching out to people from your IRL circle is not possible, there are many online communities out there that provide a platform for connecting with individuals who share your interests. For me, the online discord-based community of Biocord was the perfect place to share my goals with like-minded individuals as well as a place to hang out when work was finished. The type of community you end up joining does not matter. What matters is that it is uplifting and is willing to cheer you on.
Being a good accountability buddy
Perhaps the most important factor to have a successful accountability buddy relation is to have open lines of communication. You should touch base frequently to check on each other I am not suggesting you spend two hours on the phone since even a simple message will do, though, if that is what works for your system, go for it!
In today’s day, it can be so easy to just forget to check up on people. Some of you are natural social butterflies and will wonder what on earth I am talking about. But if you are like me, the simple act of reaching out to friends and family is not so simple. I have found great success in eliminating this issue by using the Garden: Stay in Touch app which allows me to set a frequency to stay in touch with the people I care about and reminds me when they are due. This may sound impersonal and terrible, but I promise you it is not! Being intentional about your time and relationships is one of the best ways to ensure happiness and great mental health.
In addition to frequent communications, you should strive for genuine connection. Do become interested in the other person’s goals, do try your best to uplift them and provide them with emotional support, do ensure you are receiving these same benefits yourself. This should always be a two-way street.
Do you have any experiences with accountability buddies? I would love to hear about it!