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Three Brains Are Better than One: How Accountability Groups Keep Me On Track

On Thursday, I fired up my computer at 8 AM to get on Skype.

I’m normally working that early already – or at least putting the kettle on and checking email – but I try to avoid conversating with the outside world until later in the day.

Thursday, I didn’t have a choice. It was already 11am Stephanie’s time and 6 PM Ayelet’s time in Israel. Plus, we had a special occasion to celebrate: our two-year “Grupoversary”.

Although we’ve never met in person, Stephanie and Ayelet have become an important part of my life over the last two years – they’re my freelance writing accountability partners. Every week, I check in about goals that I have for my freelancing business, my fiction writing business, and my health. (Crucial, since it’s easy to get wrapped up in work and forget to take care of our bodies!)

Over the last year we’ve not only challenged ourselves to try new marketing tactics and take on bigger clients, but also to start running and try Zumba. We’ve shared prospecting tips and healthy easy recipes. We supported each other goals to work on our websites, and to get better sleep. We’ve cheered on each other’s weekly to-do lists, and also gently suggested that maybe we should knock a few items off and go for a nice walk instead.

This group isn’t the only one that I check in with weekly.

I’m also a member of the Trifecta, a group started over three years ago with two old friends. It started one weekend when two of us who lived in Seattle rode our bikes up to Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island, to visit our third friend. We sight-saw and caught up with each other, but we also spent the whole weekend talking about our plans for self-employment.

I was ready to stop working full-time as a copywriter and start freelancing. Nalisha was ready to quit a job she hated and make a living from her art. Andrea was already making money as a knitting pattern designer, but she wanted to grow her business into a real living.

We made a pact to check in with goals once a week, and we’ve done it ever since – for three years. In fact, next week will be our annual Trifecta retreat, where we’ll get together for another long weekend of wine, bikes, and serious talks about our business goals for the next year.

These two “groupoverseries” in the same month have gotten me thinking about just how important accountability groups have been to me over the last few years.

Between these two groups, I’ve seen my business grow. I can’t tell you how important it is to have a group of trusted people to bounce ideas off of. To ask: am I crazy for thinking this? would you buy this product? what would you charge for this kind of writing? how should I approach this client? is this story any good?

If you’re like most of us, you probably made some New Year’s resolutions. And if you’re like most of us, if you want to increase your chances of completing your New Year’s resolutions – whether personally or for business – you need accountability.

There have been so many times over the last three years when I followed through on a goal purely because I had told one or another of my accountability groups that I would. It was enough motivation just knowing that I would have to say: no, I never reached out to that client that I wanted to get; no, I didn’t prioritize my health this week no; I was too afraid to send that email to a clients to raise my rates.

How do you find your own accountability group?

You may know people already in real life who would make good accountability partners.

Or, you may want to try a specialized forum to meet new people. (My freelance accountability group met in the Freelance Writer’s Den when Ayelet posted that she was looking to start an accountability group to focus on health.)

Or, maybe you can think of several people in your industry who seem to be on the same level as you, and who you’ve liked meeting in the past. Try sending out an email asking if they’d be interested. You’d be surprised at how many people are looking for something like this – and all it takes is an email or a phone call. The worst that could happen is they say no, and you continue being colleagues.

Or, you may just want to start posting about your goals on your blog and create accountability for yourself that way. That’s one thing I really admire about writer Emily June Street – she’s always courageously sharing her goals and how she did every month.

However you find accountability, I encourage you to make that a goal this month.

Do you already have an accountability group? How has it helped you with your goals?

4 Responses

  • […] wrote last week about one important tool you can use to keep on track with resolutions and goals: accountability groups. But I think one of the biggest things you can do on your own is to create a system designed to […]

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  • Feb 4, 2016

    Jess, your website looks great – congrats on the new look!

    I had so much fun with you and Steph in our international groupoversary celebration :):) Thanks for making the effort to meet early in the morning!

    You two have been an important part of my life too. I just read a statistic the other day that, if you share your goals with someone, you’re about 80% more likely to follow through – and I can see why. Like you, I’ve had so many weeks where I pushed myself to follow through on my goals better because I knew I’d be reporting back to you and Steph.

    And, of course, the ability to regularly check in, vent, consult and celebrate with someone who’s on the same journey as you is a treasure, especially when you’re fortunate to have awesome people like the two of you.

    Love the story of how the Trifecta was created, and I think you can give yourself a ton of credit for staying active in both groups for so long. I know from experience we’re all incredibly fortunate to have you.

    And yeah – Zumba rocks! 🙂

    Ayelet Weisz Feb 4, 2016
    Reply
    • Jessie
      Feb 5, 2016

      Thanks, Ayelet! And ditto to everything. 🙂

      (Steph commented earlier, but in my site migration I lost all my old comments… oops!)

      Jessie Feb 5, 2016
  • […] writing community, you can seek out these relationships online. I’ve spoken before about my freelance writing accountability group. I’ve never met these women in person, but they’ve become a core part of my freelance […]

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