How To Find a Virtual Accountability Partner

Are you trying to achieve an ambitious goal like getting fit or building a business?

Then, consider finding a virtual accountability partner. When you have someone check in with you via email or Zoom, your goal adherence goes up — a lot.

Learn about the best places to find an accountability buddy, why you should prefer strangers over friends, and how you can be a great accountability partner yourself.

What Is a Virtual Accountability Partner?

A virtual accountability partner is somebody who holds you accountable for making progress with your goals. In return, you hold them accountable for their goals.

Typically, you will check in with each other on a daily basis. For example, you might email each other daily, detailing what you did today to move closer to your goal. If your goal is to get fit, you might write, “I went to the gym today and lifted weights for an hour.”

Your virtual accountability partner will acknowledge what you did (“Great job”) or admonish you to try harder (“Why did you skip the gym today?”). You will do the same for them.

Some people prefer to do weekly accountability calls. For example, every Friday afternoon, you might talk for half an hour on Zoom — about what is going well, what you are struggling with, and how you could improve the situation.

These two approaches can also be combined — weekly calls + daily check-ins. During your weekly calls, you get clarity about what needs to happen. And with the daily check-ins, you make sure you act on it.

Why You Need One

Accountability is not some self-help hoax. It is proven to work.

A study by The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) found that if you are just pondering a goal, your chances of succeeding with it are a meager 10 percent.

But if you communicate your goal to another person, your chances of succeeding go up to 65 percent.

If you add in ongoing accountability meetings with that person, your chances of success increase to a staggering 95 percent.

In essence, by having a virtual accountability partner, you are almost guaranteed to succeed.

How To Go About Finding a Virtual Accountability Partner

Here is how to find a virtual accountability partner and get the most out of the relationship.

1. Define Your Goals for the Relationship

Think about what you want out of the relationship with your virtual accountability partner. What exactly do you want to be held accountable for?

The more specific you are, the better. “Get fit,” is not a very quantifiable goal. “Do 50 push-ups per day,” is.

You also need to think about your level of commitment. Are you planning to invest a lot of time in your accountability project? Or is this something you want to keep as streamlined as possible as you are already very busy?

In the same vein, think about your preferred check-in frequency. Do you want to have a weekly call? A bi-weekly call? Daily check-ins via email? A combination of those?

Communicate your expectations to your future accountability partner. If there is a mismatch of expectations, it won’t work. You must be on the same page.

2. Try Apps

One way of finding a virtual accountability partner is to use an app. There are five types of accountability apps:

  • Matching apps
  • Coworking apps
  • Paid coaching apps
  • Commitment apps
  • AI apps

a) Matching Apps

Matching apps are the traditional option. People who are looking for an accountability partner join the app and then get paired with another person, usually based on their type of goal.

Apps to check out:

  • Supporti
  • GetMotivatedBuddies

b) Coworking Apps

With coworking apps, you join a virtual coworking space. Everybody sits down together at the same time to get some work done. By looking at your “colleagues” on your screen, you feel obliged to get busy, too.

Apps to check out:

  • Focusmate
  • Flown
  • Flow Club
  • Cofocus
  • Groove

c) Paid Coaching Apps

Paid coaching apps pair you with an accountability coach. The coach will typically check in with you daily to make sure you are doing what you said you would do.

Apps to check out include:

  • GoalsWon
  • Boss as a Service

d) Commitment Apps

Commitment apps use punishments to increase goal adherence. Typically, you have to put down a certain amount of money beforehand. You only get that money back if you accomplish your goal.

Apps to check out:

  • Stickk
  • Forfeit

e) AI Apps

AI apps will act as your virtual accountability partner, except that you are not talking to a human but an algorithm.

Apps to check out:

  • Dewey

I am not a fan of this last option. When you know that your accountability partner is not real, you are more likely to bail out.  

3. Try Groups

You can also go looking for a virtual accountability partner in online forums. There are plenty of Facebook and Reddit groups about habits, self-discipline, and accountability.

However, understand that most people in these groups are lurkers. They will just be reading other people’s posts but never do anything. To give you an idea — if a group has 1000 members, maybe 2 percent (= 20 people) are willing to take action and join into an accountability arrangement with you.

To find these outliers, start posting regularly in the group. Talk about your struggles and learnings. Reflect on your wins and losses. Share your self-discipline hacks.

Do this consistently, and the few action-takers will start to notice you. They will now consider partnering with you because you have shown initiative.

4. Use Social Media

You can also use your existing network on social media for accountability. This way, you are not just recruiting one virtual accountability partner but an army of them.

For example, in an initial post on Instagram, you might state:

“From today on, I will work out every day. I will document what I do every day here on Instagram. If I fail to do so, feel free to ridicule me.”

The advantage is you can start doing this right away. There’s no need to keep looking around for the “perfect” accountability buddy.

The downside is that if you start slacking off, your social media connections might follow up on you once or twice, but eventually, they will stop. They are not invested enough.

5. “Hire fast, fire faster”

There is a useful saying in the professional world — “Hire fast, fire faster.” Even though you are technically not hiring anybody, this still applies to finding your virtual accountability buddy.

With any relationship, business or otherwise, it usually takes several tries to find the right fit. You can do all the research you want — unless you have actually worked with somebody, you will not know what they are like.

“Hire fast, fire faster” takes care of this. It forces you to test out people. And more importantly, it forces you to not hold on to people. It gives you permission to iterate quickly until you find the ideal person.

6. Become a Giver

You need to give value before you can receive it. To work with the best, you must first become the best accountability partner you can possibly be.

Here is what that might look like.

Work on your listening skills. Often, the other person just needs to talk themselves out; the answer they seek is already within them. But for this to work, they need a great, non-judgemental listener.

Don’t push your agenda. People have different values, goals, and emotional needs. Just because a certain process worked for you doesn’t mean it will for everybody else. You can give feedback, but they must decide what to do with it.

Celebrate wins. When your accountability partner does something well, react enthusiastically. Sing their praises. They will bask in their glory and want more of it. Next time, they will choose the right thing to do again.

Be a role model. Nothing is more inspiring in an accountability partner if they constantly improve themselves. If you become that person, you will have your pick of accountability partners. They will want to feed off your energy.

7. Friends vs. Strangers

Many people go looking for an accountability partner among their friends and family. That is a mistake.

With someone you are already close to, it will be much harder to give and receive honest feedback. You will both be too concerned with not offending each other. Also, you will already know about each other’s no-go areas — sensitive topics that neither of you want to talk about. But this arrangement is not helping anyone. It leads to stagnation, not improvement.

Strangers will not be so overly careful. They are more likely to tell you as it is. Therefore, always prefer someone new over someone you already know.

8. Match of Interests vs. Determination

When picking a virtual accountability partner, most people will go with somebody who has similar goals. For example, if they are trying to get fit, they will choose somebody who also wants to get fit.

Don’t get too hung up on this. Matching interests are less important than you think. It is much more crucial to partner with somebody who is committed to the process. Somebody…

  • … who will reliably check in with you daily
  • … who will show up on time for your weekly video call
  • .. who will not make excuses and continually improve themselves

If this person’s goals happen to be different from yours, who cares? They will be much more useful to you than an unreliable accountability partner with the same goal.

9. Don’t Get Sidetracked

It is tempting to turn your accountability sessions into a chit-chat session. While it’s great to be friendly with your accountability partner, this is not what you are here for. You are on a mission to achieve your goals. For that, certain difficult conversations need to happen.

To not get sidetracked, take notes before each accountability call. Have a list of things that you want to talk about. Make this agenda the center of your calls. You can still chit-chat a little bit after.

10. Take Care of Scheduling

Assuming that you are both busy professionals and maybe also have families, it can be tricky to squeeze your weekly accountability calls in.

The best workaround is to have a weekly jour fix — same day, same time. This way, you don’t have to waste any mental energy on setting up the appointment.

The second best option is to use an online scheduling tool. You can share your Google calendars and give the other person permission to add appointments.

Or you can use a scheduling software like Calendly, where one person (usually the busier person) picks a date from a list of possible slots that the other person has prepared.

Virtual Accountability Partners vs. Accountability Coaches

Finding a virtual accountability partner takes time, as most of your partners will turn out to be useless. They talk a big game, but then they keep forgetting to check in with you or show up late to calls. Typically, you will have to try out several people until you find someone committed. It might take you months.

Going with a paid accountability coach doesn’t resolve that problem — there are plenty of bad coaches — but it can speed up the process. You can write a coach and set up a meeting, often for the next day. If they are no good, you try the next one. It allows you to iterate faster.

Paid accountability coaching has another distinct advantage — the spotlight is on you. Unlike working with a virtual accountability partner, you don’t have to split your time between giving and receiving feedback. Your coach’s only job is to help you along.

Finally, there is a fundamentally different dynamic with a paid coach. If you work with a virtual accountability partner, you talk to each other at eye level. You are helping them; they are helping you.

But with a coach, there is a power difference. They are the coach, and you are the coachee. Hence, you expect them to guide you and even admonish you sometimes. This power difference works in your favor. You are more likely to go through with certain habits if you know there is an authority figure looking over your shoulder. You will try harder.

I am not saying having a virtual accountability partner is bad. I have a fantastic one right now, and I have had bad coaches in the past.

Also, I am biased — I offer paid accountability coaching myself.

But if your search for a virtual accountability partner is not fruitful, try the coaching route. Accountability is too powerful of a tool to not utilize it.

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