I was talking to a prospective client a while back who told me she had a wonderful Action Partner with whom she checks in with every day. They share:
- what they intend to do that day.
- what they accomplished the previous day.
You may have also heard the terms Body Double or Accountability Partner to describe a similar type of relationship.
And, while you may not use these terms, you might already have a family member, friend or colleague who fills a comparable role.
Interested in learning how to enhance your current accountability relationships or create new ones?
3 Types of Accountability
In simplest terms, accountability is keeping your commitment to yourself and others.
Personal, Partner and Public Accountability are three different levels of commitment you can use to achieve this.
Ideally, whichever level of accountability you choose, it will enhance your ability to start and follow through on what is important you. And, with this objective in mind, it is important to note that not all types of accountability are created equal, especially for Adults with ADHD.
You can start with Personal Accountability by asking yourself, “How am I doing with…?” I know. You may already be thinking, “That won’t work for me!”
And you are probably right. Relying solely on personal accountability is sometimes not enough for Adults with ADHD.
At the same time, while it is true you may have a hard time keeping your commitments to yourself, this does not mean you lack integrity or your goals are not important to you. One possible reason for your difficulty is, yes, your ADHD symptoms.
You may choose to build your Personal Accountability muscle by using tools, like a calendar and task manager, as well as creating helpful environments. But, even if you decide to improve your capacity for personal accountability, asking for help from others could help you immensely!
Public accountability, such as declaring on Facebook you are you going to do a 5K and are starting your couch to 5K plan today, may be helpful for some people.
Stretching yourself is a good thing, right? But, if you have a history of not following through, such a public declaration may be a horrifying prospect. So, don’t do it, if it feels over the top terrifying.
You’ve likely heard having accountability to another person can help adults with ADHD initiate and follow through better.
But this accountability business, even if it is not public, may still give you the hebejebes because you think it entails people hounding you with questions, like:
- “When are you going to…?”
- “Did you finish…?”
- “You’re not done, yet?!”
- “Did you remember…?”
While past experiences are likely what bring these memories to the fore, it doesn’t have to be that way today!
As an adult you get to choose the people with whom you feel safe and create agreements that honor the way you want to interact going forward.
Finding the Right Partner
Now, you’re probably wondering, “So, how do I know if a person is the right one to be my accountability partner?”
The key to choosing the right person to form a mutually supportive relationship is making sure you find someone with whom you:
- feel good about yourself.
- share similar personal values.
Feeling Good About Yourself
If you feel you just need someone to whip you into shape, think back to, perhaps, a teacher, partner or parent, who constantly harangued you to do stuff.
How did that work out? Other than making you feel bad about yourself, not very well I bet.
This time around you get to choose someone who understands your challenges, including your ADHD, and will not heap shame and blame on you when you miss the mark on occasion.
Yet, you want them to “prod” you into action, of course. Otherwise, what is the purpose of having an accountability partner? The way they do this will depend on the agreements you make. More on this below.
Having similar values will make it easier to create a supportive partnership.
While personal values are, well, personal, here are some to ideas to help you think about your own:
- balance between work and personal or work takes precedence or personal life is most important
- goal of owning business is make tons of money or goal is to create a business you enjoy or both
- self-care is important or fit self-care in if there is time
You get the idea.
The more simpatico you are, the easier it will be to support each other. Of course, it is not possible to be in complete alignment, and it is also not necessary in order to have an effective partnership.
The key is to decide which of your values you need to share with your partner in order to work effectively together.
Creating a Structure
Once you’ve found someone you think you can work with, the next step is creating an agreement.
Because, no matter how in sync you seem, there is always a certain amount of nitty gritty detail to be worked out. That is, what do you want from each other?
While it is up to you how much structure you want/need, at minimum I would recommend having
- regularly scheduled meetings. If it is in your calendar, you are more likely to follow through, rather than allow other things to take precedent.
- a structure for sharing notes, so you don’t forget your agreements.
Beyond the Minimum
Beyond the minimum, here are additional suggestions to consider when designing your partnership:
- Decide how long the meeting will go and how much time you want to spend on each section.
- Use a timer to help keep each of you on track.
- Start with an update of the previous week’s commitments, and share progress/success stories you have achieved between sessions
- Then, take turns asking for help addressing a challenge you are facing, making a decision, brainstorming ideas, etc.
- Conclude by asking each other, “What will you do by our next meeting?”
Helping Your Partner
Each partner may help the person making the request by:
- asking clarifying questions in order to guide the member to a solution.
- offer a solutions that has worked for them in a similar situation.
- if appropriate, acknowledging the difficulty of the situation.
- championing the member to take a step forward.
- cheering them on for their successes.
- and more…
Create as much structure as you need to support each in moving forward.
Next Step For You
Think about where you need accountability and who could help you.