Read below an article that sheds light on the different ways to approach accountability and helps you understand what works best for you. This article is written by Emma McLaren, Social Wellness Collective’s contributor and founder of Myrth a mental health tech startup that helps build better self-care and brain training habits to improve overall well-being:

“Sometimes, a friend really isn’t what you need.

No, seriously. Let us explain. Have you ever had those times where you need to focus on something, and you enlist a friend to help you get it done, only… you end up chatting with each other instead? Or maybe you have something hard that you want to do, but your friend has no experience with it and doesn’t know how to help you get there?

In these situations and so many others, sometimes, the best accountability comes from somebody else: a support group member, a therapist or coach, or even, sometimes, a stranger. That’s because accountability isn’t a one-size-fits-all sort of thing.

ACCOUNTABILITY EXISTS ON A SPECTRUM.

We started thinking about this more when we heard about Focusmate recently. Focusmate is an accountability platform that encourages people to get work done by randomly pairing them up with strangers for a set appointment time and a set duration. You check-in by video at the start, work quietly together through your set time, and then check in again at the end to talk about what you accomplished. It helps eliminate the urge to chat (well, unless you’re author Courtney Milan, who accidentally got paired up with a friend from high school recently!), but still gives you somebody who will see if you end up goofing around instead of working.

Here at Myrth, we’ve been really focused on the idea of accountability buddies, especially because we believe accountability is a carrot, not a stick. We really like it when accountability is linked to long-term, supportive relationships. We recognize, though, that a good accountability buddy will look different for different situations and different people. You might even have multiple accountability buddies at the same time for different reasons!

Let’s take a closer look at some of the different kinds of accountability you might need:

ACCOUNTABILITY FROM FRIENDS/LOVED ONES

Friends and loved ones know you best. They know your strengths, your weaknesses, how to motivate you, and how to pick you back up and dust you off when you hit a stumbling block. That makes them invaluable for big, long-term projects.

This kind of accountability is great because:

  1. Supporting each other through projects and lifestyle changes helps strengthen already-existing bonds
  2. No need to offer background information – they know you and know why you’re working on things
  3. When somebody knows you well, they can help you see things you might not notice on your own that can affect how you approach a project

ACCOUNTABILITY FROM SUPPORT GROUP MEMBERS

When you have a support group, you have a community of people with similar experiences and/or perspectives. These are great for when you’re working on a specialized project, like trying to write a novel, or trying to overcome an addiction or eating disorder.

This kind of accountability is great because:

  1. The flat hierarchy of a support group makes it easier to share and ask for support in difficult things
  2. Shared experiences and goals mean you can draw on each others’ experiences for strategies and advice
  3. It can be helpful to have a community who know you well but know you differently from how family/friends know you

ACCOUNTABILITY FROM A THERAPIST OR COACH

Therapists and coaches are trained professionals, and sometimes, you really need the firepower of their expertise to keep you on track. They can help you plan and make major, multi-part changes and can be a great checkpoint for smaller projects, too.

This kind of accountability is great because:

  1. With a therapist or coach, you can draw on years of training and professional experience to help you achieve your goals
  2. Your therapist or coach is solely focused on helping you make the change you need to make
  3. As a therapist or coach, they’re used to encountering problems and roadblocks that many other people don’t know how to address

ACCOUNTABILITY FROM STRANGERS

Strangers can be wonderfully kind and encouraging without needing a long-term investment in you or your project. That’s great for short, quick bursts of work, or for projects that are in their infancy and just need you to focus on them without really involving others quite yet.

This kind of accountability is great because:

  1. Support and encouragement without any temptation to chat or help solve other problems
  2. It’s easy to sync up schedules and provide real-time support in the short term
  3. Short bursts of accountability are quick and simple

In the end, offering accountability for each other comes in many shapes and forms, and the different kinds of accountability available might not always be a good fit for every possible need. Think about what you’re hoping to accomplish with your project, and then think about who is in the best position to offer the kind of accountability you need.

We love the idea of building community through different kinds of support for each other, and we’re excited to see that more people are thinking about different ways to give and receive that kind of support. That can only make the world better for everybody.

Have you ever enlisted somebody’s help for accountability? What category of support did you choose, and why? Drop us a comment below!”