Several years ago, I wrote a post about the benefits of having a writing accountability partner. I had a writing buddy and we would meet once a week at a coffee shop to work on our books and it worked out really well… until he got a new job AND got married and his life got too busy to meet up.
That’s okay, I thought. I’ll just keep up the routine and finish my book. I have that time carved out and I’ll write as usual. I got this!
Um… No. Really not.
In fact, I had, for all intents and purposes, completed the book while working with my buddy (whose name is actually Bud, so I think I’m VERY clever when I call him my buddy). There was still some editing, getting beta readers, tightening up some plot stuff, adding a bit of color, left to do.
Amazingly, all that stuff was still sitting out there waiting for me to finish up. I mean really? The damn thing was 95% finished.
But I ain’t got no-Buddy. (Like I could resist THAT line!)
Make New Friends**
I was talking with friends, all of whom were writing or wanted to write a book. Even though we’re all self-motivated achievers, not one of us was finding time to get the damn things done. I proposed an accountability meeting once a week to check in.
THAT group has been meeting for several years now. It has grown and shrunk at various times but there is a strong, small core group that shows up week in and week out. And we make progress. Since starting that group, I have put out four business books (maybe five—I lost count) and two novels. I’m currently working on a third. With the exception of one newer member (who is in the final editing stages), every single person in the group has published multiple books. We’re not always happy with the progress we make in a single session, but you can’t argue with the cumulative progress that we’ve made.
PROGRESS! Well, really…
Because we can’t show up and then not do the work.
It would be embarrassing. And in a way, it would be letting the others down because they took time out of their schedule to do the work. It’s disrespectful, in a way. We all manage to get some work done so we don’t look like schlumps at the end of the two-hour session.
It’s weird that we will do more for others than for ourselves.
It’s also kind of cool. It says something very nice about us. (Or maybe we just want to look better to others, which is not as nice a thought, but it still works.)
And, as is often the case when you put someone else’s needs before yours, you find out that you benefit, too. Because when you are there for people, most times they will be there for you.
Not everyone. Not all the time. But most times.
In these past few years, our little accountability meeting has moved us into writing mode, even though we are busy and life gets a little crazy and in the way. And it feels good.
Accountability: The Gift that Keeps on Giving
As it turns out, carving out time to write is a present to ourselves.
When you think of all the stuff you do each week for other people (the boss, your family or friends, even going out of your way a bit to help a stranger) or just for the daily drudgery of life maintenance (laundry, yardwork, dishes, taking the dog to the vet, etc.), you wonder when there will be time for you. (“Calgon, take me away!”)
Often when you look back over the week you discover that you didn’t take any time for yourself. At the end of the day, you collapsed on the sofa and binged-watched Netflix because you needed something mindless for a while.
And then you’re frustrated with yourself because you’re not getting your writing done or your business marketing done or any of a dozen important projects that you REALLY DO WANT to complete.
Having an accountability structure in place keeps you on track to follow through on all those good intentions. (Which then allows you to binge-watch Netflix guilt-free.)
Accountability is Worth Its Weight in Gold
A few years back, I had a job coaching business clients in a rather high-end (meaning expensive!) program. The number one aspect of the program that people really appreciated? Accountability. They liked checking in with someone once a week or twice a month and going over what they were supposed to do vs. what they actually did. The truth is, even in business, we tend to be those kids who wait until the night before to write our book reports or do that science project. It’s no different with entrepreneurs and writers. My coaching clients were often working through their task list the day before our session was scheduled. My book coaching clients need to get new chapters to me at least 24 hours ahead of our scheduled session. Very few send them in days ahead. It’s always about 25 hours ahead. (I’m on to you!)
That’s okay. In fact, it’s good. Because you know what? Shit gets done. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing it the night before. You got it DONE.
Which is part of the reason why people find value in having some form of accountability in place.
Your Accountability Partner Has to be One Tough Bastard
Most of us work alone, either as writers or entrepreneurs. Our friends and family might be supportive, but unless they do what we do, they just don’t get it. And they don’t understand why an accountability partner is important or really what role that person needs to play in your life.
Your accountability buddy needs to be a person who doesn’t cut you any slack and who has a finely honed BS detector when you offer up excuses instead of results.
Not everyone has the time to be a good accountability partner. Or the incentive. And, if our accountability partner is “just a friend” who lets us off the hook or who is only semi-interested, there’s really no accountability.
That’s why people hire coaches to keep them on track. The coach is paid to care about whether or not you follow through. That’s their job. But coaches can be expensive. Now, that can work in the client’s favor—when you put out hard earned money for something, you tend to follow through.
I’ve discovered there’s a balance of time, money, and level of commitment. You need to pay something, but it also needs to be affordable. You need to put aside the time to honor your commitment to accomplishing what you set out to do. You also need commitment on the other side of the table from your coach or accountability partner to hold you to your course.
And a little peer pressure always helps.
Give It Three Months
If you find you’re not meeting your goals, that life always seems to get in the way, I have a solution for you. I run a 90-day accountability program called Focus & Finish. It’s a three-month commitment and I help you set the goals that you want to achieve in those three months. Maybe it’s writing a book. Or getting your marketing plan together. Or actually putting strategies you have for your business into motion. We meet every other Thursday for a two-hour structured work session. Each session kicks off with a short training on focus, time management, and/or accountability.
Why three months? A number of reasons. First, three months gives you time to complete a more substantial project or get a whole bunch of smaller tasks and projects done. Second, it actually takes more than 21 days to form a habit. On average, it takes about 66 days. Simple habits take less time; more difficult habits take more time. Third, you need to be committed for a long enough period of time that you can actually see the results having accountability brings to your business. I want you to proof your own pudding.
If this sounds like a program that can help you, send me an email: Barbara@BarbaraGrassey.com and I’ll send you information on the program. Right now, I plan to open the program every three months to new people. You’ll be put on a “wait list” and notified when the program re-opens. I am working with a small group of people who are committed to setting goals, staying on track to completion, and most importantly, helping each other stay on track. If you’re tired of working solo in a silo, if you’d like to be in a community of like-minded people who are moving their businesses forward, then you are most likely right for this program. Send me an email. And yes, I know that everyone says, “Seats are limited” but in this program, we are limiting the number of participants in each cohort. So, make your first move towards being accountable. Don’t procrastinate. Barbara@BarbaraGrassey.com
**Extra karma points if you sang “But keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold.”