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Purposeful Accountability - One approach to navigating social distancing

Back in February, I hosted a workshop on Purposeful Accountability in the beautiful event space at The Lola (a womxn's club and community in Atlanta) amongst a group of interesting, nuanced and accomplished women. When I reflect back on the experience, what resonates with me most is the sights and sounds of human connection in the room - the small gestures or light touches that come with being present with one another. Clearly, I had no idea how much was about to change and how vital purposeful accountability would become in writing the story of our eventual recovery. Through the framework of purposeful accountability, we find one approach in voyaging through these detached days with prioritized intention and purpose.


Purposeful Accountability Defined

So what is accountability and purposeful accountability by definition and why is the idea suddenly so vital to our well-being?

Accountability by webster's definition means:

The quality or state of being accountable; an obligation to or willingness to accept responsibility for one's actions

Obligation, willingness, responsibility - those all sound like words requiring a moderate amount of effort to implement. I don't know about you but, these days, a moderate level of effort can sometimes feel more like insurmountable! It is really easy to push our long list of "to do's" or "now I have time to's" to the back burner as we grapple with mass media overload and questions of how to possibly support those fighting hard on the front lines of this battle! While the smartest thing we can do is implement social distancing, we must equally understand how best to endure a prolonged time of disruption through learning new ways to connect and practicing even greater amounts of self-care.

One avenue for navigating this disruption is establishing a habitual connection with an accountability partner through the framework I reference as Purposeful Accountability. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Training and Development amongst other notable resources tell us we have a10% likelihood of achieving a goal when it is just an idea in our head yet we are 95% more likely to achieve the same goal when we commit to a specific accountability appointment with an accountability partner. Those are some pretty powerful odds!


Purposeful Accountability Framework:

One thing I have learned during the past few weeks is there is real power in a weekly rhythm. Adapting the Purposeful Accountability framework into your weekly schedule can make a big difference in how you structure your time and attention. By taking a pause to consider how our lists of "to do's" align with our personal values, we are better able to prioritize with concentrated intention and purpose. Breaking the idea down even further, when we group our priorities at the beginning of the week into four separate categories: Our businesses and work, families and living spaces, self-care, and opportunities to support those impacted most by this crisis and choose just one item for each category, suddenly our weekly "to-do" lists feel far more achievable in this ever-changing landscape.

The framework outlined below transforms the idea of accountability as an obligation into one of purposeful support. One of the most important things we can do during this time is to give our selves a bit of a break by focusing on the things we can do and using this time of pause to re-program how we approach our goals and celebrate our accomplishments.

  • Align your goal setting with your personal values - conduct a word exercise to help identify overarching ideas which have woven through the major events in your life - look for commonalities to determine your life theme which helps define your personal values.

  • Set S.M.A.R.T goals - (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound)

  • Choose an accountability partner - Consider whether you are more genuinely motivated by a straight-forward, feet to fire approach or by a more nurturing, supportive style and choose with intention

  • Establish an accountability structure and sign an accountability agreement - Formalizing your partnership will increase the probability of purposeful accountability becoming part of your weekly rhythm.

  • Set Expectations at the beginning of each session

  • Establish an intentional communication methodology - Be deliberate, ask clarifying questions, give honest feedback and affirm, affirm, affirm!

The following guide can be used as an action plan for establishing the purposeful accountability framework into your own life. With some intentionality and ingenuity, we can continue to serve as trusted guides for one another as we reimagine purposeful connection.

We've got this! - bcb


Beverly Carey is the founder of Live Alive and the curator of its mission to create a movement of self-actualized and wholehearted women through an intensive peer-based accountability mentorship series. The Live Alive series provides a framework created to turn simple curiosities or long-held aspirations into step-by-step accountable monthly action plans designed to fulfill goals in one year. Moving the "someday I will" toward the "this year I did" the ultimate mission of the Live Alive series is to establish a movement of aggregated women who have not only adapted the Live Alive mentality in their own lives but have also committed to the collective growth of other women. Visit to learn more

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