Updated: Dec 9, 2021
Are you the king or queen of unfinished projects? If that is you, join the club. This world is full of people who have thrown away hundreds or thousands of dollars on buying food for the latest weight loss/diet plans, just to have the food expire in their fridge a week later. They are often accompanied by people who have ventured out to start writing a best selling book, only to stop writing a few days later after barely finishing chapter one. Whether its failing to follow through on a personal project that will set you on track towards achieving your dreams or your inability to follow through on your personal commitment to start living on a budget to help you get out of debt, a majority of people in this country have a hard time following through on what they start.
Even though there is not a single factor that explains why people struggle to follow through on their commitment, I have identified one practice that has proven to significantly increase a person's chances of finishing what they started. The solution is simple; find an accountability partner. The American Society of Training and Development found that people are 65 percent likely to meet a goal after committing to another person, and their chances of success increase to 95 percent when they schedule ongoing meetings with their partners to check in on their progress. Although this is in no way a new concept, all too many people fail to take this crucial step when starting out on a new venture. Frankly, people need to have friends and mentors in their lives to make sure they are keeping the promise that they made to themselves. Without having that, a majority of people are much more likely to fail. I’ve definitely fallen victim to this myself.
For years I struggled to go to the gym consistently, despite how sincere I was when I made a personal promise to myself that I would work out so many days a week. Just last year, a friend of mine joined the gym with me. We committed to workout together four days a week at 5am. Now anyone knows that getting up at 5am to go to the gym is no easy feat. There were some days I dang near ran into the wall when I got out of bed because I was so tired, but because I promised my friend that I would meet him at the gym, I sucked it up and I made sure I was in class the days that I was scheduled to go. Unfortunately, after the first few weeks of him working out with me, his work schedule changed and it became challenging for him to continue to meet me at the gym. After he began to fall off with his attendance, my attendance began to dissipate too. I didn’t realize until then, how powerful it is to have an accountability partner in your life.
An accountability partner forces you to acknowledge that you broke your promise to yourself if you don't follow through with what you committed to. If you are at a place in your life where you know in your heart that God is calling you to go to a new level in your life, I challenge you to identify people in your life who will hold you accountable to reaching your goals in the various facets of your life. You can benefit from having an accountability partner in all of the areas of your life ranging from a partner who holds you accountable to your health and fitness goals, to an accountability partner who holds your feet to the fire regarding your professional aspirations.
For example, I am working on writing a book right now, and I signed up for a program that supports authors who plan to self-publish. One of the first things that the program tells you to do is to identify someone (preferably someone who is also writing a book) to serve as your accountability partner. They understand that having a person in place who you have to report to daily about your progress, can make the difference between you starting a book that never hits the shelves, to you completing a best selling book that launches you forward into your destiny.
This same methodology can work for someone who is striving to grow spiritually in their walk with God. People can easily accomplish this by identifying a partner or small group of people who will commit to studying the word of God together or hosting small group meetings where people are honest about their struggles with sin and can find the extra support they need to avoid falling into temptation.
It's so important that we learn to develop the habit of finishing what we start so that when God decides it’s time to give us an even bigger assignment, He can trust that we will see that assignment through to the end. So I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on some of the trends that you have noticed about yourself over the last several years. Are there some projects that God has given you years ago, that is currently collecting dust on the shelf because you quickly lost your zeal to work on it after the excitement for the project wore off? If that is you, it might be time for you to revisit some of your old commitments, but this time make sure you identify a person or group of people who will hold you accountable so that your vision becomes a reality.
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