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You have big goals you want to tackle week after week. Maybe it’s moving forward on your job search or squeaking out a draft of a business plan or scheduling networking meetings. As each day passes, these items are still on the top of your to-do list…staring you in the face. Does this sound familiar to you? 

You are not alone.  We have all fallen victim to our endless lists of projects and tasks big and small.  Sometimes we need some encouragement.  And sometimes we need a swift kick in the derriere to keep moving forward to just do it.  

If this sounds familiar, here’s something to consider that’s so simple, yet powerful: Get an accountability partner. 

Cross Country Accountability
I’ve lived the bulk of my professional life in very structured, team-based corporate environments.  And this year, as I build my business, I find myself swimming in to-do lists and a bit lost without the structure.  Most of all, I miss the camaraderie of being part of a team and having people to bounce ideas off of.  

My dear friend Linda from business school was going through something similar.  She’s launching a business and found herself occasionally spinning her wheels, in analysis-paralysis.  We found that when we had the chance to catch up (which was rare given our busy lives as mom-preneurs, and the time difference between LA and Philadelphia) we would inevitably talk about our work.  We were brainstorming and giving each other advice, and quickly found that not only did we love hearing about each other’s businesses, but each of us was getting the other to move forward in ways we weren’t doing alone.

We decided to implement a bi-monthly one-hour check-in so we could keep one another motivated and accountable. We did this over coffee via Skype, rendering the 3,000-mile distance between us a non-issue.  

We were able to accomplish a number of critical objectives because of our mutual support system. For Linda, we dove into her business plan, brainstormed company names, and also discussed questions for consumer feedback interviews. Shifting to me, we talked through my big transitions (from a structured coaching role at UCLA Anderson to going out on my own and launching my company Path Relaunch). This reciprocal partnership allowed us to expand our networking efforts and make introductions to people in our network. Additionally, it increased empowerment and confidence for both of us to get unstuck and move forward with our goals

After every call, I felt energized and re-engaged with my work and mission. I knew Linda would hold me accountable, checking in with me on my to-do’s and also called my B.S. when I was doubting myself or making excuses for why I didn’t have time to do a certain task.  We celebrated accomplishments big and small, and also commiserated and offered a sympathetic ear when we had disappointments or setbacks along the way.

Bottom line: I felt I had a partner who had skin in the game with me and wanted me to succeed.

My challenge to you:  30-minute weekly check-ins for 4 weeks
Find someone like-minded, whose thoughts you trust, who can play the role of your accountability partner (and you to them).  These are critical things to keep in mind when choosing a partner:

  • It can be a friend, colleague, fellow mom at your kids’ school.  You don’t have to be tackling the same challenges, yet should be interested in one another’s goals.
  • It’s important that your partner be objective and supportive of your goals rather than have his/her own agenda.
  • Find someone who can give constructive feedback and not just a cheerleader, or worse, a naysayer.
  • Give your partner permission to call you out when you’re letting yourself down and allowing yourself to stay stuck.

Schedule a quick 30-minute check-in call once a week for 4 weeks.  Check in, ask how they are doing on their goals, keep them moving forward.  Assign each other “homework” so you can stay on track. 

It’s also imperative to have a relationship where questions and thoughts via emails, texts or calls are encouraged in case you require feedback in-between. The last thing you want to do is squelch the momentum because you have to wait for your next regularly scheduled meeting to get your partner’s feedback.

Final tip: Don’t go it alone.  Invest in support.
If you can’t find the support you need, whether it’s through family, friends, or colleagues, then consider investing in a formal support structure. One of the things I love about being a career coach is the multi-faceted role I play for my clients as thought partner, cheerleader, mentor, strategist, and of course, accountability partner. Partnering with a qualified, experienced coach who is committed to your success can help you achieve your goals efficiently, helping you avoid any missteps.  

Regardless of which method you choose in selecting an accountability partner, this first step toward forming a partnership will reap endless benefits as you tackle big goals in your career and life.

Jennifer Chow Bevan is a Los Angeles based executive career coach and founder of Path Relaunch. As a mom who has experienced her share of career transitions and relaunches, she is passionate about helping smart, motivated professionals and moms navigate their transitions. With a professional background in investment banking, management consulting, and brand management, as well as over 5 years as a career coach to MBA students at UCLA Anderson, Jennifer brings a business perspective to her coaching work.  She is trained through the Coaches Training Institute and holds an MBA from Wharton and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from M.I.T.  For career tips and updates, follow Jenn on TwitterFacebook: PathRelaunchMore about Path Relaunch.