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InfoQ Homepage Articles Partnering for Accountability: What’s Stopping You from Turning Your Dreams into a Reality?

Partnering for Accountability: What’s Stopping You from Turning Your Dreams into a Reality?

As humans, what sets us apart from other animals is our desire to thrive as opposed to simply survive. We all have a vision of what our ideal life might look like. We all have aspects of our personalities we’d like to develop. We all have behavior characteristics we’d like to adopt. We all have daily habits that we’d like to change. 

So what prevents us from creating the life we know we’d like to have? Why can’t we change our lives to fit the beautiful image we envision for our future? 

One of the bigger problems we don’t ordinarily address is the fact that when it comes to holding ourselves accountable to our goals, we miss the mark by a long shot.

I make excuses not to take the actions that are necessary today for my future to be altered.

I justify my laziness.

I make decisions to change and forget the immensely important reasons that I wanted to change in the first place.

I don’t realize that unless I take action TODAY, the future me will inevitably fall short in light of my goals.

I believe in TOMORROW.

To put the problem a little bit differently, our minds always find a way to make us content with where we are; the current state of our lives. I’ll repeat, our minds make justifications, excuses and somehow always finds a way to make us ‘okay’ with our inaction because in the end of the day, I’m the only one it is affecting. Nobody else knows, nobody else cares, and if I lie to myself it doesn’t actually make me a liar.

To enact a radical transformation in our lives, to take the actions we know are necessary to create the ideal future we envision for ourselves, we need some form of accountability.

How much easier is it to start working out when you have a personal trainer?

How much harder do you work when you know your boss might see the assignment you’re currently working on?

How much harder do I study for a class that has numerical grades as opposed to pass/fail?

Why do I keep my promises when I make them to other people?

As adults living in this world, we’re held accountable in a lot of ways. We’re accountable to the IRS to pay our taxes. We’re accountable to our families to provide a certain lifestyle. We’re accountable to work hard for our supervisors. We’re accountable to our friends to make sure we’re there for them in times of need.

The problem is that as we grow older and seemingly more set in our ways, we stop being accountable to ourselves. We stop being accountable to our personal growth. We find ways to remain content with how our lives have turned out up until this point, and we think we’ll probably be fine the rest of the way. 

If you want to enact change in your life, you have to find ways to hold yourself accountable to your goals. If you want to create the future for yourself you know you want to have, you have to find ways to keep the promises you make to yourself.

….Okay, okay. Accountability… I get it. But how?

A partner in crime.

A goal buddy.

An accountability buddy.

The best way to create the accountability you need to change your every day life is by finding another individual who has similar goals to you that you can struggle with, that you can teach, that you can learn from, and that you can make promises to that you’re more likely to keep than the promises you make to yourself. 

The partner relationship is extremely important in a number of ways:

  1. Creates an image of yourself you want to live up to in another person’s mind.
  2. Lights a fire under your ass to take action towards your goals because you see how another individual in a similar position to you with similar goals to you IS taking positive action in the direction they choose.
  3. Allows you to learn from another’s experiences, knowledge and struggle.
  4. Creates a burning desire in you to compete with your partner.
  5. Facilitates building an incredible relationship that you carry with you for life.

What having an accountability buddy really does for you is help you become more sincere about the things you say you want to do, the ways you say you want to change your life.

Look, each of us constantly talks about, and thinks about what we want in life. A good example is Software developers and individuals with other tech-related positions, who usually have side-projects they’d like to work on and ideas they’d like to turn into a reality.

Newsflash: There’s a big gap between the things we say we want and our daily actions.

When you start believing in the fact that your actions constitute your true desires, you’re forced to look at your life and question whether you in fact WANT the things you SAY you want.

I have a cousin who is a software developer, that works for a big software development company. One day we were having lunch, just catching up, and he told me about this incredible idea for a project he wanted to start working on that just absolutely blew my mind.

Every time I saw him or spoke to him, I would ask him whether he had a chance to start the project and where he’s taken the concept. Without fail, for over six months, he continued to repeat how little time he had, how there was so much going on in his life between his girlfriend and work, that he had absolutely no time for anything else in his life. In the morning he had to rush and get ready for work, and at night he was too tired to spend time working.

It was such a shock to me. He was a developer, the idea was brilliant, he could find partners for the project with ease, and I felt that he knew it was the project that could take his career down a whole new path.

But he just could not get going. He made the same excuses day after day.

One day, after our usual conversation ending with “I just don’t have the time right now,” I told him something that changed the entire course of my life when I heard it.

If you don’t make time for the things you say you want, then you don’t really want them.

It hit him like a slap in the face, the same exact way it hit me when I heard it. He came to the conclusion that he had to start waking up early in the morning so he could work for a few hours before he went in to his day job. He was motivated as hell, and excited to get started the next day.

When we talked a few weeks later he told me he was able to wake up and work on the project the first few days after our last conversation, and that he loved it, but he quickly gave up and resorted to his usual excuses.

So I told him I had an idea – I was already a morning person and I knew that the most difficult aspect of getting up at 5 a.m. is actually just, getting up. Once you’re up and you’ve decided what your plan for the morning is, the momentum of action takes care of itself.

I proposed to him that every morning, rather than set alarm, we’d alternate calling one another at 5 a.m. so that we’d be forced to get up and start the day because we knew the other was counting on us. For 3 months we continued doing this, and there wasn’t one single weekday that either of us didn’t get up to start the day with intention and work on the things we usually “just didn’t have the time for.”

The results were out of this world incredible. Not only did he find time for the work he genuinely wanted to do outside of his day job, but he fell in love with the strength he gained through defeating his habitual excuses that prevented him from living the life he wants.

Accountability is necessary for positive change. It is necessary for personal improvement. Accountability is exactly what makes up the difference between your life as you experience it today, and the perfect life you envision for yourself, with all the qualities and characteristics you want to exhibit, the work you want to be doing, and the happiness you want to enjoy.

We each have one life to live. We each have a vision for how we want our lives to turn out. We each have an idea of what it takes to take our life from where it is right now to where we want it to be. What’s in between is just taking the necessary steps to get from A to Z.

To make sure you take a step every single day, you need accountability, and the best way to get it is an accountability partner.

Change only exists today.

If you don’t change today, tomorrow will be exactly as today was, and so goes for the rest of your life.

Change today, and the entire outcome of your life will be forever altered.

About the Author

Ariel Banayan is a graduating law student at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, and a healthy lifestyle entrepreneur and writer. He’s been published in Inc. Magazine, Observer Magazine, and quoted in Business Insider for articles he’s written related to success, habits, energy, and self-improvement. He is extremely passionate about positive change, and believes that anyone and everyone has the ability to create the life they want for themselves. One of his passion projects is called Partners In Grind, a match-making service that pairs two individuals who want to add a healthy-lifestyle habit, so as to facilitate an accountability relationship. His mission is to spread his ideas about accountability and positive change to help individuals realize the importance of struggling with oneself to gain mastery over one’s life. Ariel will be studying to earn a Master’s Degree in Taxation at New York University Law School next year.


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