Have you ever marveled at a flock of geese flying in formation on their way to warmer climes? Why do they travel that way? The reason migratory birds fly in a V shape is because the aerodynamics make it easier for them to fly long distances. As the birds flap their wings, the air flowing off their wing tips gives birds in the back an extra lift. This formation reduces the amount of energy the birds need to fly and also ensures that the flock evenly distributes the workload so that they can easily make the long journey to their target destination. Scientists have found that when geese fly together in a V, they can cover 70% more distance than if the birds were to fly alone.
Find an accountability partner
What do geese have to do with career transition? We know that change is hard and staying motivated challenging. Research has indicated that when we share our goals with others, we are more likely to succeed. Having an accountability partner to provide encouragement and feedback along the way can make the difference between success and failure. As Laura Vanderkam points out in her article in Fast Company Magazine, “When you’ve got big dreams and a busy schedule, that’s how things get done.”
How to choose an accountability partner
Typically, an accountability partner knows you well and is motivated to help you succeed. They may have been through a transition themselves or may have benefited from having had a mentor. They can be someone who has offered to be a reference, a former manager, colleague or friend. Ideally, your partner should be someone who can relate to what you are trying your goals, challenges, and can help you prioritize. Most importantly, they need to be, in the words of the psychologist and author, Tal BenShahar, “a beautiful enemy,” someone who cares enough to tell you the truth in an encouraging way.
What the research indicates
In case you’re skeptical of the benefits of having an accountability partner, studies by psychologists Wing & Jeffery showed that people who joined a weight loss program alone had a 76% completion rate and 24% maintained their weight loss. Those who went with a friend had a 95% completion rate and 66% maintained their weight loss in full for 6 months. In addition, similar research indicates that having an accountability partner provides an enhanced ability to cope with stress.
How to ensure success
Below are recommended steps for working with your accountability partner:
Step 1: Define a clear and measurable goal.
Step 2: Identify the actions you need to complete in order to achieve your goal. For example, if you goal is to find a new job, one action you have to finish is to update your resume.
Step 3: Create a timeline for completing each step in the process on a daily and weekly basis.
Step 4: Set up a schedule for checking in with your accountability partner and how you plan to communicate; phone, text, email?
Step 5: Clarify your expectations. Do you want to inform your partner of your progress or are you looking for feedback and guidance? Be clear.
So, would you rather fly alone or with a wingman? I’d love to hear what works for you.