I don’t know about you. But I’m the type of person who likes to set goals for myself. I enjoy planning out my days so that I will be productive. I thrive on checking items off of my To Do Lists.
Until I don’t.
weeks days when I don’t feel like exercising or eating healthy foods. There are mornings when I would rather sit and watch Fox and Friends and sip my coffee than to do my prayer and devotional time. And there are evenings when I would rather relax in front of the TV with my husband than to work on my blogging or my homeschool lesson plans.
And that’s alright.
It’s okay to take an occasional morning or evening off to relax. In fact, it’s important that we take some time to just be still. The problem comes when we take morning after morning after morning off… and we start to feel drained and don’t feel like following through on any of our plans.
It’s all too easy to get into a rut and to stop putting effort into our spiritual lives or into being healthy. At least it’s a bad pattern that I can find myself falling into if I’m not careful. The one thing that helps me to stay on the straight and narrow is having accountability.
There are lots of ways to build accountability into our lives, depending on what we’re looking for:
1 – An Accountability Partner
If we need accountability in an area of life which is very personal, having a single accountability partner is a great way to go. It’s much easier to open up to someone you know you can trust implicitly. My best friend and I have had a close relationship for 35 years. It is much easier for me to tell her about those sticky situations in life than someone I just met at church. I rely on her for encouragement and understanding. I also know that she isn’t afraid to give me a swift kick if I need it. Even though we don’t call each other accountability partners, that is what we’ve become for each other.
My husband is my number one accountability partner. He knows everything about me – the good, the bad, and the ugly. He has to live with me, after all. We’ve been fortunate to be married for 18 1/2 years with some ups and some downs. But through it all, our relationship has only grown stronger. We’re able to help each other refrain from giving in to eating unhealthy snacks, watching too much TV, skipping church, and various other areas in which we struggle. I don’t know what I’d do without him as part of my life!
2 – An Accountability Group
This is a great way to stay accountable in the day to day areas of life. Find people who are willing to walk down the road with you. These groups may start out somewhat business-like, however, the sooner you are able to open up and share the difficulties that you face, the faster these relationships will grow.
I’ve recently become part of an accountability group with a couple of different ladies. We barely knew each other a few months ago, but our steady interaction has helped our friendships to blossom. We check in with each other daily to say that we’ve finished our prayer and devotion time. We share prayer requests with each other. And we pray for each other. I feel like I’ve grown tremendously since I’ve become part of this group.
3 – A Business Mastermind
Another group I’ve recently become part of is a business mastermind. These types of groups help us to set goals, to maintain forward motion with those goals, and to share tips and tricks with each other that we’ve learned along the way.
Trust is also important in these types of settings. Without it, various members of the group might feel intimidated about fully sharing information and the group will fall apart. Again, the more you are willing to invest yourself, the stronger these types of groups will become.
Is accountability always a good thing? Not necessarily. I’ve been part of several different accountability relationships in the past which ended up fizzling out over time – and sometimes ended with broken relationships.
Here are some important considerations which will help you to create successful accountability relationships:
- Actual Accountability – There are times when people need a gentle reminder of what they agreed to – or what their goals are as part of the group. The other members need to be willing to come alongside someone who is struggling rather than simply remaining silent.
- Consistency – If you are part of a mastermind, it’s important to share goals on a regular basis and to update each other on your progress. If you are part of a prayer group, it’s important to pray for each other and to be able to count on each other for support. And, you want an accountability partner you can depend on!
- Empathy – Each person should try to see the good in the other members of the group – and assume the best about their intentions. When people ask for prayer or for help, give them the support that they need. Don’t nitpick or find fault. Instead, try to lift the other person up.
- Flexibility – Each member of the group will have slightly different expectations. Some people like lots of structure but others break out in hives when things are too orderly. Fortunately, we can still learn from each other and benefit from our differences rather than expecting total conformity in the group.
- Similar Expectations – It’s important that people agree to what they would like to see in the group before deciding to become members. When everyone’s expectations are discussed beforehand, this will help to limit lots of misunderstandings and hurt feelings which could come up over time.
- Simplicity – The less complicated you can make the group the better. For instance, in my accountability group, when we are done with our prayer and devotions for the morning, we simply text “Done” to each other. We have also set up a conversation on Voxxer and a private Facebook message so that we can easily communicate with each other throughout the day.
- Trust – As I said before, if trust is lacking then people aren’t going to be willing to open up and share. This is key!
- Understanding – We are all unique and we all have different strengths and weaknesses. For a successful group, it’s important that we allow for those differences and expect to benefit from them rather than making people feel “less than” because of them.
If you find yourself struggling to stay on track in various areas of life, consider adding in some form of accountability. It’s easier to disappoint yourself than it is to let other people in your life down. When you are part of a stable accountability relationship, you will find yourself accomplishing so much more than you would if you try to go through life alone.
Are you part of any accountability groups? Have you found accountability to be a positive tool in your life? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.