The Problem: Do you have trouble accomplishing your goals that are important but not urgent? It’s easy to write down what you’d like to accomplish this week or this month, but it’s not easy sticking to that timeline. I have found myself setting aside hours on the weekend to work on my goals and the next thing I know, one friend wants to see a movie, another wants to go out for a drink, and there’s this really great hike I’m dying to go on…Suddenly my goals are being deferred. It’s easy to adjust your schedule, especially when you’re in charge of it. You can justify to yourself that you’ll get your goals done later but the problem is that this keeps happening.Before you know it you’ve deferred your goals many times and it’s no longer possible to hit your aggressive deadlines. This cycle repeats week after week and you either accomplish your goals way behind schedule or you lose motivation all together.
Here are two: learn how to say no and get an accountability partner.
Saying no should be pretty self-explanatory, but you saw the movie Yes Man and the last thing you want to be is a “no man”, right? Wrong. Saying no is actually saying yes to yourself and to your goals.
Every time you say yes to one activity you are also saying no to your goals and to anything else you could do in that time.
Saying yes has a huge cost that we rarely stop to think about. Stop being a Yes Man and seize the power of no; it will change your life.
The second solution is an accountability partner. No, this is not a sexy gym partner.
What is an Accountability Partner? (Ew, It Sounds Boring)
An accountability partner is someone that you share your goals with and who checks on your progress to make sure you’re on task. This could be a friend, family member, partner, spouse, or someone you seek out for this specific purpose.
The way many people organize this is to talk to their accountability partner once a week for about an hour. I would highly recommend via phone or Skype to keep it personal and for the best communication; in person is always best but understandably not always possible.
Each time you meet you go over your goals for that week and take turns discussing what you accomplished and what you did not. Then you exchange a document of your goals for the upcoming week so you each know what the other one should be focusing on, and to prepare you for the next week.
A sample dialogue will go like this:
- Person A talks for 15 minutes about what they accomplished and their challenges that week.
- Person B answers questions and gives person A feedback.
- Person B talks for 15 minutes about what they accomplished and their challenges that week.
- Person A answers questions and gives person B feedback.
For an example see the article from Entrepreneur On Fire which includes another sample dialogue.
Why Should You Do This?
Having an accountability partner pushes you to stay on top of your goals because you want to look good for your accountability partner, and you can’t make the same excuses to them that you make to yourself. While it can be easy to procrastinate when you work alone, it’s much more difficult to do when you’re sharing your progress with someone else.
It’s a mutually beneficial relationship where you report your weekly progress on your goals to them, and they report their weekly progress to you. Through this process you motivate each other, get constructive feedback, and work towards your goals in tandem.
Furthermore, a 2008 study found that those who wrote down their goals, and had weekly check-ins with an accountability partner, were about twice as likely to accomplish their goals as someone who doesn’t write down their goals. Those with accountability partners were also 27% more likely to accomplish their goals than those who wrote down their goals, but didn’t have an accountability partner.
How This Can Boost Your Freelancing
This sounds really cool but how will this specifically help your freelancing? Having an accountability partner will help you focus on the tasks that are important but not urgent.
Do you ever find yourself spending tons of time checking emails, trolling social media, or feeling overwhelmed and not accomplishing what you want? It’s easy to get caught up with busy work and put your top priorities last, after all busy work is easier and can often feel more urgent.
Having an accountability partner will help you focus and prioritize those things you really want to get done like writing more articles, getting more clients, and increasing your profits. By staying motivated and focused you will prioritize busy work where it should be: last.
Tip: you can also use stakes to make your accountability partnership even more effective. For example, you can set a stake that you owe your accountability partner if you fail to complete your goals that week, or that you have to give to charity. If you’re skeptical try it for a couple of weeks. It requires a minimal amount of time on your part and you have nothing to lose.
How to Get One
This is where most people get stuck but it’s really much easier than you think. Since it only requires about an hour each week, it’s not a huge commitment, and it’s a win-win relationship.
It’s easiest to start with people you know. Are there any friends or family members that would be a good fit, whom you would like to ask? Start there.
If that doesn’t pan out think broader, think of your professional network, is there anyone at work, on LinkedIn, or whose business card you have that you would like to ask? Ask them next. Tip: don’t be afraid to look outside of your industry.
If that doesn’t work out you can reach out to someone cold. This could be a blogger you like, someone you admire, an entrepreneur acquaintance, or someone in a similar field or niche as you. Shoot them an email and see where it takes you, it worked for Jyotsna.
What to Say
I’m going to make sure you have no excuses to procrastinate, so if you’re unsure of what to say when you reach out cold, I got your back.
Here’s a sample script to use when reaching out for an accountability partner. Please don’t copy it word for word, as some originality would be nice!
I read your article on X and I really liked it. I especially liked points A, B, and C.
I was wondering if you would like to be accountability partners? I’m a freelance writer and I have ambitious goals for growing my business and being published in Y magazine.
I know you have ambitious goals too so I think we could help each other out. We can talk once a week, via phone or Skype, and share which of our goals we accomplished that week and which we did not.
This would require minimal time effort and could help both of us stay focused on our goals and accomplish even greater heights. Let me know what you think.
All the best,
To summarize, that’s two great ways to stay focused and aggressively tackle your goals. Be a “no man” and get an accountability partner.
With all the steps laid out for you to get an accountability partner, for free, you have zero excuses not to!
If you want additional help finding an accountability partner go to my blog and subscribe to the mailing list, I’ll have more hacks coming out in the future.
1. Reach out to 5 people this week, asking them to be your accountability partner.
2. How do you stay motivated and keep on top of your goals? Share in the comments.