Accountability Partner Ultimate Guide

What is an accountability partner, what is an accountability coach, how to find one, what is the research and practical tips.

Accountability Partner Ultimate Guide
Photo by Rohit Tandon / Unsplash

You’re looking for an accountability partner  or considering getting an accountability coach — here’s the ultimate guide. 

What is an accountability partner?

An accountability partner is broadly defined as “someone that holds you accountable to a set of goals, habits, or behaviors that you are trying to do”. This could be someone that you know personally, or may be someone that you don’t know in real life but have gotten matched with or met virtually. Typically the structure of an accountability partnership looks like both partners commiting to some kind of check-in cadence — for instance once a day or multiple times a week. 

What is the research behind accountability partners? 

Well first off, achieving goals is hard. Research shows that only 54% of us stick with goals past 6 months — which to be honest sounds high to me — and the average person makes the same life resolution10 times (!) without achieving it. The good news is that having an accountability partner can make a huge difference — another study showed that with a regular check-in, people achieved their goals at a 46% rate vs 4% without — that’s a massive change! The only difference with the groups? Having an accountability person to check in with. 

What are the challenges with accountability partners?

If the research is so good and accountability partners work — why aren’t we all using them and all achieving our goals? Well, the challenge is in most situations — accountability partners are other humans, who are also trying to achieve their goals. And in the study, the results lasted for 6 months of check-ins. Can you commit to checking in with someone every day or week for 6 months? I know I can’t — that’s hard. So that is one major challenge — despite the benefits of an accountability partner, working with someone else in a non-commital way can be really challenging — enter solutions like Accountability coaches that you pay for. 

What are accountability coaches?

An accountability coach is someone that you pay to hold yourself accountable. There are various solutions out there but they have a few things in common:

  1. They’re not cheap: typically hundreds of US dollars / month 
  2. They’re structured: typically they’ll consist of an initial intake to understand your goals and then some cadence (e.g. daily or weekly) where they check-in with you, see how things are going, and help you adjust your schedule 

Accountability coaches aren’t there to give you the answers to your problems — they’re there to be that consistent person holding you accountable both from a social dynamic and a cost dynamic (you spent $300/month on an accountability coach — you wouldn’t miss your check-in would you?) 

What are alternatives?

$300/month is a steep price. Now with AI, we are seeing more solutions and tech forward options coming out with ChatGPT and others — there is a lot of noise out there about accountability coaches. However, a key part of accountability isn’t just having a conversation — it’s the follow-up, and adjustment, and deep understanding of what ultimately motivates you and how best to pull on those various levers to help you reach your goal. 

Practical tips for finding accountability partner

Ok so you want to find an accountability partner — where should you go? One source is reddit — reddit has a bunch of subreddits that are focused on goals and you can go to as an example to find individuals — be careful tho, as mentioned when you are working with an accountability partner, having a small group has a “weak link” potential so it is better if you can find a dedicated group. 

On Summit — we have various accountability groups that are oriented around goals. For instance, our fitness basecamp which you can join for fitness related goals. 

Tips for being a good accountability partner

You’re an accountability partner, what do you need to do? Would recommend some tips:

  1. Define a cadence — how are you going to communicate with your partner and when?
  2. Define a consequence — what happens if check-ins don’t happen? Or your buddy doesn’t achieve their goal? Do you want an incentive (e.g. charge $5 if a goal isn’t met)? 
  3. Try to create a small group — a group of 3–5 people — that way if one person is flaky or falls out, it doesn’t affect the whole group
  4. Try to have similar goals — you can definitely be and work with an accountability partner if you have different goals, but having similar goals allows for more motivation and camaraderie
  5. Have a retrospective time — set a date, maybe two weeks after you start your accountability partner group and assess things — how are things going? what do you wish was different? What could be changed? 

Summary: Accountability partners can work, but be aware of the gotchas

To summarize, accountability is one of the most important tools when it comes to achieving your goals — and accountability partners are a great solution to helping you with accountability. However there are challenges with working with accountability partners (we are all human after all!) hence there being solutions like accountability coaches and technology. If you are going to be an accountability partner, use the tips provided and good luck! 

Alex is the CEO and co-founder of Summit — an AI accountability partner: This article helps you understand the benefits of an accountability partner, the downfalls, what to look for, and ultimately how to successfully get accountability in your life.