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21 Days to a More Disciplined Life: Accountability is Key

Missed the first posts in the 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life series? Read them here.

Early this morning, my friend Angie texted me with a question about freezer cooking. As we were texting back and forth she asked, “Did you run this morning?”

You see, Angie and I have both been individually trying to get up early and run in the mornings. We both know we feel better and accomplish more when we do it, but it’s not always easy–especially on cold mornings.

This morning when she texted me, I hadn’t run yet as I was hard at work wrapping up the details to post about my free freezer cooking ebook. Her text was just the motivation I needed to pull myself up out of the comfortable chair I was seated in and go run a mile. Yes, it was just a mile, but it was something and it made me feel a lot more energetic the rest of the morning.

You Need Cheerleaders

You can’t do this discipline thing alone. Well, you can, but I guarantee you it will be a lot harder to keep at it if you don’t have anyone encouraging you along the way.

Whenever I run by myself, I’ve found that I tend to go easier on myself and stop earlier than I planned. If my side starts hurting or I have a long to-do list, I use that as an excuse for a short run. However, when I run with someone else, I’m always motivated to push a little harder, go a little faster, and not give up when I feel winded and tired.

It’s the same with life: when you feel like you’re going it alone, it’s harder to keep on when the going gets rough. But when you have others around you who are encouraging you, checking up on you, or texting you to make sure you’re following through with your morning run (thanks, Angie!), you’re much more apt to actually stick with your goals.

My husband has graciously agreed to be my early morning wake-up accountability partner for this 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life Challenge. When I came to him and presented the idea of possibly committing to get up before 5 a.m. Monday through Thursday for three weeks, he jumped right on board and enthusiastically said he’d join me.

While neither of us have been quite as enthusiastic in the early mornings when the alarm clock goes off, it’s been much easier to stick with our commitment when we’re both doing it. And, of course, posting about this challenge publicly on my blog has been a huge motivation, as well.

How to Find An Accountability Partner

You might be thinking, “I wish I had an accountability partner, but I don’t even know where to find one.” Well, it might not be as hard as you think. Start with your local friends and family and see if anyone would like to join you in keeping each other accountable to one specific goal on a regular basis.

If you can’t find anyone locally, ask friends on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or other online groups you’re a part of. Or, search and see if there’s already an online support group of some sort (such as the Good Morning Girls or Hello Mornings Challenge, if you’re working on getting up early).

Practical Application

1) Find an accountability partner either locally or online.

2) Create a specific plan for how you each will hold each other accountable for your goal(s). Will you email, call, text, talk in person? How often will you check up on each other?

3) If you have an accountability partner, tell us about it in the comments. I’d love to hear what’s worked well for you!

How are you doing on your current habit? I got up right at 5 a.m. this morning–yay! I had had a busy day yesterday and had stayed up late reading a book (I know, I know, I shouldn’t have!), so it was really hard not to hit snooze and go back to bed this morning. But the accountability of my husband and knowing I was going to have to report back to you all tonight motivated me. And I ended up quickly forgetting about my tiredness with all the activity of the day!

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  • Kimberly says:

    My sister is my accountability partner for life. We are so blessed to live just three blocks away from each other. I love that she pops in unannounced to ‘check in’ on me. One of my long time goals is to have the house company ready at a moments notice.

    The days that I am on target, she loads me with praise. On the days I have let things slide, she is right there with all the encouragement I need to get right back on track.

    I plan to add more accountability partners by checking in with a status on Facebook once a day to further my progress. The more the merrier!

  • Blaire Ruch says:

    i washed my face with a facial cleansing wipe as i read this post! yeah baby!

  • Bethany says:

    Don’t poopaw a mile. I would love to be able to do that again…..Wait, I will be able to do that again.

  • I have successfully had a new post on my blog almost every day since September 24. I also began the “Get-Dressed Challenge” on October 13 and have stuck to it almost every day. I found that the two things have helped one another! Posting daily has given me accountability in multiple areas of my life, and getting up and dressed at a regular time has made me more productive all day.

    My goal this week has been to prepare for the upcoming Thanksgiving vacation by writing all 12 posts (for 12 days away) in advance. I’ve gotten 7 written so far! I also wanted to put the kids first on my to-do list today, so we went to the library for Toddler Story-time this morning and checked out some books to read together. 🙂

  • Having an accountability partner is a great idea. I’m finding that being my own support system is definitely not working for me, LOL. Too easy to get distracted by other things.

  • Marisa says:

    My husband and I are doing this together and we are each others accountability partners. It’s really helping both of us.

  • This is great! My new goal is to check my planner every morning. I know when I’m working, and I know when I’m meeting with friends but certain things like “I need to deposit that check at the bank” and “put friend’s anniversary card in the mail” slip my mind, and before I know it, I’m behind. My planner also reminds me to go running. 🙂

    Keep up the great encouragement Crystal! Thanks for the inspiration to keep going.

  • Lucky says:

    I’ve been walking 2-3 miles with a friend every day during lunch, and it does help to have someone to go with.

    I also joined the city pool this week and I guess my 3 year old is my accountability partner because he asks me every day to go! I’ve been swimming laps while he holds on to my neck so it’s like a double work out. Then after I swim he gets a lesson from me.

    Also, it’s 5:01 am and I managed to get up without the kids hearing me.

    • Crystal says:

      Woohoo! You’re doing great!

    • Nicole says:

      My kids are my accountabili-buddies, too! They LOVE the kids room at my gym and ask to go all.the.time.
      My 6 year old also demands that we do our homework together. So she reads and I work on my masters. Only one of us is having fun, but at least I’m getting stuff done!

      I tell my husband it’s only fair that they keep me in line since they’re why I need a better job and why I have tummy pooch to begin with!

  • Casey says:

    Crystal, good job keeping up with your get up early goal. Question about that, how to you manage to stay upbeat/have energy all day? My main goal to change is “get more sleep.” Cuz i’m ALWAYS so tired and SO busy. I know it’s a lame excuse, EVERYONE these days seems to be busy and tired. I just find it so hard to fuction (be positive, actually accomplish tasks, etc) without some decent sleep (for me this is a solid 7-8 hrs/night.) I start work at 730am, must leave by 710 (715 on a bad day= running behind) I have to drag myself out of bed by 6am daily just to be able to get out the door. I would LOVE to be able to get up earlier to run or accomplish a task, but then I feel like it sets me up for failure the rest of my day cuz i’m so tired. The logical solution is go to bed earlier and I have tried and i’m STILL trying. I’m trying so hard to make sleep a priority. Not being all to successful though and feeling discouraged.

    • Crystal says:

      If you’re dragging all day, than you probably need more sleep. However, a few other things to consider:

      ::Are you drinking enough water? If you’re dehydrated, you can feel exhausted and lack energy.
      ::Are you eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and good protein?
      ::Are you exercising regularly?
      ::Are you taking a good multi-vitamin?
      ::Are you investing your days in things you’re passionate about and find fulfillment in?

      All of these things help me tremendously in the energy department. And also listening to my body. If I’m feeling tired, I make every effort to go to bed an hour earlier and get some extra sleep.

      I’d also think about what is hindering you from getting to bed at an early hour and then make changes there so you can get to bed earlier.

      • Sara says:

        Also, have you ever had a sleep study? I discovered that I had mild sleep apnea. There may be a medical reason that you are tired. And to second Crystal, I was amazed at what increased protein did for me. I had been tracking my food on SparkPeople (and then completely fell off the habit, discipline what?). When I upped my protein intake, my increase in energy was noticeable.

        • Stephanie says:

          I noticed a HUGE difference when I started adding a mid morning protein shake to my day. I feel so much better when I do. It’s simple, some Almond Milk and a scoop of protein powder.

      • Lea Stormhammer says:

        Adding two more questions:

        What time are you going to bed? I get up at 545 which means I can get to bed no later than 1030pm to get that 7 hours of sleep. If I skimp, I can feel it every time!

        Also, have you had a thorough physical? I found out I had chronic sinus problems in part because I was having trouble sleeping. The pressure in my head was so great it would wake me up at night – acting like sleep apnea, cutting off my airway.

        Take some time to htink about this. If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t feel well all day every day and get far less done!

        Sympathetic Hugs,

    • Nicole says:

      What can you cut out of your morning routine/streamline to get extra sleep in the morning?
      I get up at 5:45 and get the whole family out the door by 6:45. But it took a while to get to that point. I found that what takes me an hour in the morning takes me half that at night when I’m awake and the kids aren’t. (Lunches, clothes chosen/ironed, shower, bags packed, etc.)
      We also don’t turn on the tv until at least 8 pm at our house. It was such a time suck I didn’t even realize. It’s easy on days when we don’t get home until 11 pm, but the other days, it’s having back those 5 minutes here and there that really added up for us. And it makes the kids WAY more productive, which lightens my load a bit.

  • Jennifer Ward says:

    That is great & I love to read about people running happy! My husband and I race in 5k’s just about every weekend. He is training for his 2nd full marathon in December & me for my 5th half marathon. My first full will be in February. This running thing has really brought us closer together. Sharing something we both love. My neighbor is my running partner since my husband and I can’t run together in the morning since we have two young children. She meets me at my mailbox every week day morning at 5:15 & we run 3 miles & then do a one mile cool down walk. I would never make myself get up every morning at 5:02 if I didn’t know she would be at my mailbox and NOT happy if I stood her up. Some morning are so hard getting out of the warm bed but while I am enjoying my cup of coffee at 6:15 every morning I am always glad I did.

    • Crystal says:

      Way to go! I’m so inspired by you!

    • Stephanie says:

      So 13 minutes after waking up you run!? Yikes!!!

      • Stacy says:

        That’s my favorite way to run! Up, contact lenses in, dressed and out the door before I wake up enough to talk myself out of it. Once I’m out and running I never regret going.
        Hubby and I just finished a one week juice fast and we kept saying that the only reason we both didn’t bail out is because the other one was doing it. We definitely kept each other going.

  • Kadee says:

    I’m meeting my mom at our Weight Watchers meeting this morning, and my sister checks in to see how my running is going. 2 people to keep me accountable (and it’s working!). I wish I knew how you get up at 5 every day, and manage to stay up so late! I get up before 5 with no problem, but I’m asleep no later than 9pm – I’m usually ready for bed by 8 when my kids go to bed!

    • Crystal says:

      Well, my *goal* is to be in bed by 9, but it’s usually more like 10. And in the past week, some nights it’s been more like 10:30 or even 11. But that’s not my ideal since after a few days of that, I’ll really be dragging!

  • Meredith says:

    Well, I will say this. My habit may not be going exactly to how I want it to, but since you started the series, I haven’t forgotten about it and I make a change every day. My habit is to focus more on health and eating. So today, I reactivated my spark people account and am going on a walk instead of showering before my daughter gets up!

  • Laura says:

    My husband is my built-in accountability partner as the habit I/we have set (getting up 15 min. early to read our Bibles and have a devotion together) is a joint effort. So far it’s going well. I normally would be uncomfortable having my husband as my accountability partner since I wouldn’t want to get irritated with *him* if I wasn’t meeting my goal, but in this case, it makes perfect sense.

    • Sarah T. says:

      I like that. When I naturally wake up early (without kids bounding in our room!) and get some time alone with the Word and a cup of coffee, my day starts much more pleasant. If I wait to get up until the kids are awake, I feel behind the 8 ball all day- I feel like I’m being reactive rather than proactive.

  • HeatherHH says:

    Still am getting all dishes accumulated washed after every meal. But, I’m starting to line the clean counters and sink, so I’m starting to wash them all after doing baking/cooking instead of waiting until the next meal. I’m also cleaning the counters and stove more because they are completely clear most of the time, instead of often partially obscured.

    My husband is my accountability partner. Yesterday evening, when I was sitting down for a few minutes before cleanup (had fixed a dessert right after supper so had been on my feet), he reminded me after a bit not to forget I have dishes, not in a nagging way, but knowing it’s important to me to meet that goal.

  • Dawn says:

    I am going along with keeping the laundry on track. I did have an extra load of bedding yesterday as my little one had a diaper leak night before last.
    I also am thinking about weight loss and fitness goals. I love that you are a runner and such an inspiration.
    Maybe an idea for a future series? LOL not that you are not already so busy…but maybe a “how to start running when you have no idea what to do or how to start” series? 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      Ha! I could definitely qualify to write the “how to run when you can’t run and don’t have a clue what you’re doing” series. 🙂

    • Sarah T. says:

      I’ve always been somewhat overweight and having babies didn’t help! I had my last one in April and a month afterward, I still hadn’t lost a pound (was at 180 lb. and feeling every pound of it!). I decided that was enough. I purchased a gym membership where they have childcare so that I have no excuse. The motivation to work out is the fact that I pay for it whether I use it or not- and I’m not about wasting my money. The motivation to eat right is that I work out too hard to throw it away on eating the wrong things (and even just too much of the right things).

      So I use a book called “The Nautilus Diet” where you count calories and do specific weight machines. It’s a 10 week program- I figured I can do anything for 10 weeks. As of my week 7 weigh-in, I’m down 15 since I started the program (had lost 6 prior to starting- which is lousy from May to the end of September). It’s about making it a priority. To be under 160 again is amazing- I feel I can conquer the world- not nearly as tired as I was before either.

      So my advice? Pick a plan and do it! But make sure you don’t ruin it by eating too much food- if you look at charts, working out for 1/2 hr. doesn’t burn all that many calories compared to what you can pack in. Count every calorie you put in your mouth for a few weeks to get an idea of what 1500 calories is (or whatever your goal is). Find substitutions and diminutions for what you like. Snack at night? Have air-popped popcorn. Love bagels? Eat 1/2 and then some yogurt to feel like you had a bigger meal. Love sweetened yogurt? Mix half the cup with some plain to stretch the sweetener out over 2 servings. Things like that.

      Lastly, be realistic. I’m nursing, so I’m not going for huge numbers on the scale each week. I try to feed my body enough and get my exercise, and I happen to be losing weight. But even on -.4 lb loss weeks, I’m not discouraged because it’s still a loss. I’m in it for the marathon, not the sprint. And -.4 lb. is -.4 I don’t have to carry around any longer. Also, I know I’ll never be skinny, but I *can* be healthy.

      • joanna says:

        good for you, sarah! you remind me of my sister; like you say, she’ll never be skinny, but she’s working out & watching her diet (better than i do unfortunately) just so she can lose some excess weight & be healthy. you girls inspire me! i’m going for that run right now! =)

  • Jenny says:

    I’d love to get up before the kids, but my youngest thinks 5 AM is an acceptable time to get up every day LOL =) Oh well, I know it won’t last forever, so I just enjoy our early morning snuggles on the couch!

  • kerry says:

    My husband has been trying to get me to wake up early for awhile now and go for a run, we have two little ones but at least we could get up early each get a run in and start the day of better. In theory it sounds wonderful but I really am not a morning person and being at the kids beck and call all day I enjoy the evenings and sleep… Do you have any suggestions on how to get my butt up and motivated in the am when really I just want to stay in bed?! p.s. Dawn has a great idea for a series too on the running:)

  • Katy says:

    The goal of waking up early is so funny to me! It was my goal years ago and I achieved it. Getting up early was great when my kids were young and going to bed early wasn’t a problem because everyone went to bed at the same time.

    Now that we have a teenager, the challenge is to be able to stay awake long enough to make sure she gets home safe. Sometimes that means waking up to do the end of the night pick up from a party.

    But I still have to exercise before they all wake up for the day and start homeschooling which means I still need to wake up early…..

  • Ashley says:

    Two years ago in November, my husband and I joined a gym and agreed to actually use the membership since we were going to pay for it. Not a week has gone by where we haven’t used it. We wake up at 4 am and workout together in the mornings (usually 4 – 5 times per week). This also allows us to carpool to work because we go to a gym next to my office. After work, he picks me up, so we at least get to spend our commute time together. We go to bed (at the latest) by 8:30. Doing this has not only been great for our relationship, but it’s forced me to eat healthier, be more organized, and plan better. I have to effectively plan all our meals on Sunday because we both eat a lot more, and I don’t have time to “run to the grocery store” multiple times per week. This plan works for us because we don’t have kids yet, which makes me a little nervous about how we’ll work it out if we are blessed with children. It’s inspiring to hear lots of other women and couples making it work though.

  • Elise says:

    You are so right about the accountability partner! I struggled for weeks at getting out of bed on time, and then my husband started getting up with me. Wow! It’s made all the difference 🙂

  • h says:

    Good suggestions! I use, it’s full of incredibly nice, encouraging people. But I am in need of a little extra motivation and was super excited to see the 2 pages you suggested for that extra kick..good morning girls & hello mornings challenge…I even went to their facebook page and clicked ‘like.’ Then discovered everything there was geared towards ‘moms,’ which..yes, I come here [hated to at first], but you post a lot of great stuff that isn’t just for moms. I am not a mom, but not only am I not a mom, I am infertile. So I quickly ‘unliked’ their page…as much as I wanted to like it, I can’t deal with daily posts about praying for the kids I will never have and the mom I will never be. What I did take away though, was to try to find something not geared towards moms. Thanks for all you do for us & good luck with your goals!

  • Holly Hall says:

    Crystal before you started the 21 days of discipline my friend and I that live 4 hours apart had decided we both needed to start exercising, so we made a goal to work out so many minutes each week and to e-mail at the end of the week our progress, we also text each other throughout the week when we are excercising to encourage each other. We started the week before Halloween, knowing we would see each other the 2nd week in December. Our reward is going to be to get a mani and pedi together.

  • Karrie says:

    “Decisions, without accountability, usually end up as good intentions.”

  • Robyn says:

    Well… if I could get my 7 month old to sleep through the night that would be great. Right now she is in bed at 10 up at 1 am then our 2 yr old gets up so we take her back to bed around 2 am when she wakes.. then around 3:30 our 7 month old is up again also waking our 7 yr old .. so put her back to bed.. then feed baby girl and put her back to bed.. she then sleeps til about 5am then back in bed at 5:30 am .. but wait! Then we get up at 6:15 to get our school aged kiddo off to school and our 2 yr old is up for the day .. lol .. and No.. our 7 month old does not take super long naps during the day either and Ive treid to let her fuss a bit but it never works well. So anyways.. Im doing good if I can remember my name! Lol 🙂 I used to run.. but my energy is gone right now.

  • Koree says:

    I don’t have an accountability person. However, even though I’ve been sick since Friday I have worked on school work on a daily basis.

    • Ashley says:

      Koree, I don’t have an accountability partner, either. I’m a full-time student and work full-time an I’m trying my best to lead a more disciplined life. I’d be happy to be your accountability buddy! You can email me at

  • Annie Kate says:

    Yes, accountability is the key. I’ve made it back to a small degree of fitness after a severe illness by being part of Fit Mommy Friday, an online accountability group. What a difference that has made…and still makes!

    If anyone wants an online exercise accountability group, feel free to join Fit Mommy Friday. I’ve recently taken over this group at my blog. We’re a small, cozy group of mommies working toward fitness. You can join us here:

    And keep right on being disciplined! It’s all good. 🙂


    Annie Kate

  • Bridget says:

    I’ve found mentoring to be a great way to hold myself accountable and minister to someone at the same time. Right now I’m calling a young lady every morning to help her get up on time to do devotions and to check in on how she’s doing spiritually. Knowing that she’s counting on my call helps me get up, because getting up at 6 sure doesn’t come naturally to this confirmed night person!!

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