When I think back on the times I had the best gym routine, it was because I had an accountability partner. He was someone I knew would be there no matter what, who would (with my earlier permission) give me grief if I wasn't, and who would challenge me to set stretch goals.
I think about the time I was best at stopping for lunch at the office and engaging socially with colleagues, it was because of an accountability partner. It was a routine I needed to start, partially for personal reasons and partially for professional reasons, so I asked someone who always stopped for lunch to pick me up on the way to the lunchroom everyday.
When I think about training for the marathon I ran, it was because I did it with an accountability partner. In that situation we were holding one another accountable. If I didn't want to go out for a training run, he pushed me and vice versa. When we ran the race we played the same role for one another. I hit a wall around 21km while he hit a wall around 32km, we were able to push the other one forward to break down those walls.
If you want to make a change and/or create a routine - think about who is going to hold you accountable.
Some things to think about when selecting an accountability partner:
1. Pick someone who is not going to cave the moment you resist the new routine. Often this means arming them with the power to challenge you before you dive in. An example? I was recently trying to make a change in my eating before bedtime. I asked my husband to help me stay on track and hold me accountable. I told him, before I got started, not to cave in no matter what I said. I gave him permission to tell me 'no' in the moment, which, knowing I gave him the power to say no in itself has helped hold me to my goal.
2. Choose someone you want to spend time with, perhaps even someone you wish you could spend more time with. Time is the ultimate gift we can give anyone.
3. Set expectations. Explain your goals, why you chose them, and how you foresee that they can help you. Answer the question, "What support do I need from my accountability partner?"
4. Make sure they want it too. The best accountability partners are often the people who want to do it too. Even better are those who are already doing it.
5. Allow room for error. Forgive yourselves when you don't succeed. Have a plan in place to get right back on track (it helps to create this in advance as well - i.e. if we miss Wednesday Zumba class, we will automatically default to the Thursday morning class).
Who can help you achieve your goals this winter?