Last November, after my accountability buddy gave birth, I realized how important our partnership had been to me and how, despite my good efforts to keep on track, I needed to get back to a system that proved to help me get more things done. And it wasn’t just about achieving; having an accountability partner helps us see our progress, share our shortcomings and keep connected with someone who also wants to pursue a creative project. The support my friend and I got from that partnership was very helpful , so I knew I needed to find it again.
The fb post I created for my community group read: “Looking for Accountability Buddies”. And even though the idea was to recruit people with similar interests, I made sure to tell people that it was open for everyone, even if their goals were to lose weight or get their homes organized. There was some level of interest during the first couple of days, although nobody technically signed up. Getting discouraged by not having people on board right away would have been a mistake. So I did what I usually do when I want to start something new: I put myself out there again, with fear and all.
The idea of reaching out to strangers is still a bit intimidating to me, but I have learned not to get paralyzed by it. Every time I’ve tried it, something good has come out of it. Every time. On this occasion it worked once again.
I am not a life coach and I am not someone who is über organized, so I wasn’t sure how to go about the whole accountability group concept. However, from first hand experience I knew I could talk about the benefits of holding yourself accountable and that people who signed up would were looking for support and affinityl, not professional advice. Listening to Cathy Heller’s podcast, Don’t Keep your Day Job also helped me with this. So I read, prepared myself and brought handouts.
A week after posting the announcement, we were holding our first accountability meeting. There we were, three ladies from three different continents who had different passions: blogging, photography, sustainable fashion design. None of us had ever met the others before, but we all had something in common: we wanted to make our projects work and we wanted support along the way.
After a brief introduction, we set up our goals for the coming year and we read them out loud. We also established basic ground “rules” which still hold true today:
Always have a homework assignment
Write notes and share them at the meetings
Connect on WhatsApp
Meet every Sunday morning at a local coffee shop
During the next following weeks, each one brought five actions that would help achieve our main goals and a list of the biggest obstacles we face. Later on, one of the members came up with the great idea that each person should create a mission statement for their project and another member suggested to keep a log of the obstacles and struggles found throughout the week. These actions helped keep the big picture in mind while helping us realize that we all struggle at different levels with similar problems.
It has been eight months since we started our accountability group in Amman, and we still meet each week. During this time, our projects have launched, they have failed, they have remained stagnant. But our commitment is still strong and we are giving the help we’re finding along the way. We’re holding ourselves accountable and it is working. Just recently we added a fourth member, who comes with her 7 month-old baby. She is a jewelry designer who has added a bunch of new energy and ideas to our group.
It is through noticing the efficacy of keeping ourselves accountable that we keep showing up to accomplish our goals but also, we show up for the others. Support and understanding of our struggles can’t be overlooked. So here are five lessons learned —so far— from starting an accountability group overseas:
Commitment - The basis of having an accountability group is commitment. Our goals are important, the journey is too. By showing up, we prove to ourselves that we care about what we want to achieve. Scheduling that hour a week keeps us responsible of our actions and committed to our long-term plans.
Support - There are weeks in which we get almost every thing done in our homework assignments; there are others when we feel like we’ve failed because we didn’t get much accomplished. Procrastination is one of the struggles we have faced many times. When this is the case, our group members are there to help us see more easily the things we’ve done well, which many times aren’t apparent to us. We stand ready to listen quietly and give advice with kindness. The struggles, like procrastination, are real. On that note, you might like this article I wrote on the Struggles of a Femalepreneur.
Ideas - Thinking outside the box, sharing new concepts and doing brainstorming are easier when we’re not by ourselves. Each person that joins an accountability group is bringing new and refreshing ideas or twists we may not have thought about before. Books, trends and influential people to follow can be most helpful. For example, one of my friends in the group recommended a book called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. This was not only great to manage my time workwise, but also to learn skills for my personal and social life.
Solutions - Often times we focus on the things that are not working for us and we spend a lot of energy on that (not to mention the time wasted thinking about the problem itself). We’re limited by the frustration and we don’t get to see beyond the immediate problem. By sharing our concerns in an accountability group, we will be given suggestions of what has worked for other people in our circumstances or get answers that we had not thought about. It helps us get unstuck.
Progress - Sometimes our projects are far from finished so we don’t see how far we’ve walked. We focus on what is missing, not done, not working. Thanks to having an accountability group, we are able to point out the progress made, even if small. Each week I see it again and again, the girls in our group encourage one another and highlight the positive actions taken that we have overlooked. I like what this article says about how accountability buddies also help us refocus our energies.
There are plenty of articles highlighting the usefulness of having an accountability group. These are some that might spark your interest and help you get started. Wherever you stand in your creative journey, know that it becomes easier when you have a network of people to guide you and support you.
Before I used to think that being able to accomplish things on my own and being self-sufficient were a sign of strength; however, I am glad I recognized the need to be connected to others and that by holding myself accountable to other people I am helping myself and others more effectively.
If you like this post, please share it with someone who could use a little inspiration to start an accountability group. And now, I’d love to hear from you. Do you have an accountability system in place? What have you learned so far?
Thank you for being here.