When I’m looking for an accountability partner, I look for four ideal qualities. I recommend you look for them as well. If you can find someone with these four qualities, you’ve got a real winner!

First, choose someone who cares about you. When your partner has genuine affection for you, s/he will be able to hold you accountable without using guilt trips or nagging. You want a soft place to land, especially if you don’t meet a goal, so love in the accountability relationship is necessary.

Second, choose someone who does not have a personal stake in your goal. This is critically important, and it’s one reason that I think spouses make lousy accountability partners. Of course my husband wants me to have time to cook every night! And when I don’t meet that goal, he will be disappointed, which brings a lot of potential negativity to our interaction. So the ideal partner is someone who doesn’t benefit from your goal.

Third, pick someone who will confront you and ask about your goal even if you don’t bring it up. No one wants to say, “So, are you going to ask me if I worked out this week?” You want someone who isn’t so afraid of conflict that s/he won’t ask, or so scatterbrained that s/he forgets to ask.

Finally, choose someone who will have time to talk with you about your goals. If you fail at meeting your goal week after week, and your accountability partner never has time to ask why, or talk with you about how you can be successful, then you aren’t getting the maximum benefit from your partner. This doesn’t have to be a weekly three hour meeting; just someone who might have time for coffee or a meal once or twice a month.

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