Why not anybody can be your “accountabilibuddy”

Have you ever tried working with an “accountabilibuddy” aka Accountability Partner, doing Virtual Co-working, or using a Buddy System to achieve a goal or create a habit?

We humans do so love to be connected and if you have read Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies and find yourself an Obliger like me, you know that external accountability can be a powerful motivator to drive consistent action. (Rebels and Uploders can skip this blog post – other people may hinder your progress! Questioners this may answer some of your skepticism… or not!)

In the last year there have been three accountability partner systems that worked well for me and I’m going to break them down so you get some ideas of how to find and structure your accountability partnership.

Thanks to all my accountability partners who help me to achieve my goals!

TL;DR: 7 tips to design your accountability partnership

  1. Shared Goals
  2. Calendar Compatibility
  3. Ease
  4. Make it the default
  5. But be flexible
  6. Build in hidden extras
  7. Set a finish date

Case 1: Yoga with Adriene and my big sister

I’ve been doing Yoga with Adriene‘s 30 days of Yoga practices for several years. I’ve never really managed to do it in actually thirty days until 2020. That was a huge shock to me that I could do it without a break but it felt like a new story I could tell myself! I can do hard things.

For 2021, I decided that I wanted to join again and my biggest accountability partner was my sister. She is based in the UK and I’m in Japan and with Covid travel restrictions, I’m not going to see her for a while and it’s been over 18 months since I saw her last.

Shared Goals: We both wanted to complete the programme and improve our health.

Ease: Adriene told us what to do every day – no decision making required.

Make it the default: We set up a repeating calendar invite and the same zoom link. Plug and play!

Calendar Compatibility; If we had both wanted to do AM workouts this would not have worked but luckily my sister wanted to do evenings and I preferred the mornings so 6am JST and 9pm GMT worked out for us

But keep it flexible: we both set our boundaries. Friday night is my sister’s chill out night and I don’t want to get up at 6am on Sundays. 4 days of the week we practiced together but knowing that she was doing each day made it easier for me to keep up on the other side of the world.

Hidden Extras: I get to chat to my niece and nephews and my sister every day. The yoga is great but the 5 mins before and after are what really kept me coming back

Set a finish date: Having a limited period makes people feel that they have an easy out. In this case, 30 days of Yoga. But as it happened at around day 20 we started to talk about the future and we are continuing three days a week together. Mainly because I want to start running again now my injury is over!

Case 2: Search Inside Yourself Leadership: Mindfulness Buddy Take 2

As part of the SIYLI online course last year we were set 28 days of practice and given a structure to meet once a week with your buddy assigned in the last session. I tried a few times to connect with my buddy but the calendar compatibility wasn’t there. In the capstone meeting at the end of the 28 days, I shared in a breakout room that I hadn’t been able to connect with my buddy and I felt a bit down about that. One of the other participants said he felt the same so we decided to try Mindfulness Practice Buddy Take 2!

Shared Goals: Originally we both wanted to complete the 28 days of practice and have someone to share the experience with

Calendar Compatibility: Again this is where the global time difference is a help not a hindrance. My 9am is John’s early evening.

Ease: We followed the SIYL buddy call flow for the first few months but now we just check in as we like (and often for more than the recommended 15 minutes!

Make it the default: Tuesday morning 9am I fire up the whatsapp or we let each other know that. We also often start with a Moment to Arrive as recommended by SIYLI… but not always

But be flexible: see above

Build in hidden extras: meeting John’s new puppy, sharing openly with someone who has no connection to your daily life is so liberating, connecting with a fellow human just doing their best and trying to be better is what keeps me coming back.

Set a finish date: Again originally through the 28 days of practice but by mutual agreement we decided to continue.

Case 3: Virtual Coworking with Make March Matter

Make March Matter is a free online community that I launched in March 2020 as a response to Covid impacting small business owners. There are many ways we bring accountability to each other (part of the reason we are still going strong with over 250 members). I wanted to share a mini accountability practice. It’s usually a small group 3-4 people who come together for one event only. Not always the same people and not doing the same work so it is an interesting case study.

Shared Goals: In the virtual co-working we all have something we want to get done but are not doing – procrastination, doom scrolling, distractions are the usual culprits!

Calendar Compatibility: these are Pop up events run by anyone with a zoom account

Ease: no prep required other than adding a FB event with a link (I just duplicate previous meetings and add a new zoom link)

Make it the default: Same format each time. Share your expected outcome, Cameras and sound off for a focused work period, chatty break time, Cameras and sound off for a second focused work period, Chatty wrap up

But be flexible: Can only join for the first or second work session? No worries do as much or as little as is useful! Can’t join at this time? Set up your own event!

Build in hidden extras: I find it really inspiring to see what others are achieving and the scheduled chat breaks help to re-energise. Knowing that I need to report back gives me a kick up the butt to stay on task!

Set a finish date: Recently we are favouring 50/20/50 so a 2 hour session is becoming the norm but the limited time to focus really helps keep members on track and off SNS!

What works for you?

So how about you?

What works or doesn’t work for you when it comes to accountability partners? Share your hints and hacks in the comments!

Finding your Ikigai in Public Service

Noemi Inoue is the first foreign-born woman to be elected as a local councillor in Japan. Originally from Bolivia, Noemi talks about how her ikigai around public service led to her starting an NPO, changing her nationality and then becoming a three-time elected politician in Sumida ward in Tokyo.

We had some issues with sound quality as is the joy of online recording but I loved hearing about Noemi’s story as a proud Sumida resident who is not ready to give up my British passport.

I am in awe of her!And so impressive to be interviewed in her third language too. I hope you enjoy it!

All the Podcasts for your listening pleasure

Access through Anchor, Spotify or Apple Podcasts

Show Notes

2:50 From Bolivia to Tokyo

5:30 Coming back to the workforce after 10 years

6:40 Mr Inoue suggests “why don’t you become Japanese and work for the UN?!”

7:20 And now why don’t you become a councillor?!

8:20 Changing nationality as part of a commitment to her Ikigai

11:40 Rights and Obligations

12:58 The trigger between idea and action to run for office

15:01 Seeing the challenges of foreigner living in Japan and wanting to ease that

17:00 “It’s not part of my job…” but doing it anyway from an act of service

20:50 Motivation to support those in needs in daily life2

2:30 Being a voice for the disenfranchised

22:42 Talking about the Sumida Koen renewal project

25:55 Challenges as a politician – how Noemi keeps going

28:42 Her secret weapon – an approachable politician!

30:30 Being not only a councillor but a friend

31:55 Where does she get her energy from?

33:21 Advice for foreigners in Japan

35:08 Taking your first step in public service

38:30 Noemi announces the next iteration of her Ikigai! (just kidding!)

HomePage: Noemi Inoue | 井上ノエミ墨田区議会員公式ホームページ Blog: http://noemiblog.at.webry.info/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noemi.inoue.7 Twitter:      https://twitter.com/inouenoemi?lang=en

How do I turn “Somebody should…” to “I am…” when it comes to my Ikigai

It was a delight to talk to Robin Lewis about how he moved from inspiration to action to integrate his ikigai and purpose around sustainable living. He talks candidly about the challenges of being so engrossed in your ikigai that you fail to look after yourself, finding an ikigai partner, about being an intrapreneur or volunteering  as a way to bring even more fulfilment into your day.

We also talk about home karaoke, the Princess Bride and a future career as a snowboarder. Check it out here on anchor and coming soon to Apple Podcasts

You can listen here and please subscribe, share and write a 5 star review!

Show Notes

3:30 The experience that raised Robin’s awareness around the need for reducing plastic waste

4:30 moving from “Somebody should” to “I will”

6:30 Fall in Love with the problem was from John Saddington Blog: john.do

8:45 Sharing your ikigai with others – the value of a partner in your quest

10:13 Starting small

10:42 Moving to Hakuba and the perils of an all encompassing ikigai

12:45 Learning from negative experiences

14:00 My plans for home karaoke

16:16 Unconscious processing

17:08 Revenge as Ikigai learnings from the Princess Bride

“Inigo Montoya:
Is very strange. I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it’s over, I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life.

Have you ever considered piracy? You’d make a wonderful Dread Pirate Roberts.”

18:41 How Ikigai shifts

22:04 The 3.5% rule

22:39 How volunteering may be a way to integrate your ikigai

26:08 Be an intrapreneur to integrate your ikigai

28:43 Listen to the nagging voice and take action

30:42 dealing with challenges and building a morning routine

32:52 A book he was “semi forced” to read

Max Frenzel and John Fitch Time Off https://amzn.to/35E6KMA (Amazon Affiliate Link – support my reading habit!)

34:20 Talking about the Ikigai venn diagram’s origins and how we can use it

38:09 Robin imagines his sliding doors moment where he does not take a walk along the beach

39:36 How to get in touch with Robin

You can listen here and please subscribe, share and write a 5 star review!

Know someone who is living an integrated life with their Ikigai as the driving force? Drop me a line to recommend them as a future guest.

Where to find Robin



Social Media

@mymizu.co (IG/FB)

@robinlewisphotography (IG)

@robintlewis (twitter)

@Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/robinlewis88/

Sunsets and Frozen: 3 coaching lessons from product design

I was today years old when I learned the concept of “Sunsetting a product“. For those like me, in a nutshell, it means ending the life of your product, service or feature. Like the immortal words of Elsa “Let it Go”


In coaching, this idea of sunsetting is vital! Feeling overwhelmed? Pulled in too many directions? A nagging voice saying “this is not working anymore”? Then it is time to consider what is not serving you anymore and to make your sunsetting plan.

Inspired by this tech focused blogpost are three Coaching Prompts to start sunsetting and letting go

1. How is the product (relationship/behaviour/underlying belief) performing right now?

It might have worked great in the past but the world is different, you are different. Be precise and honest here. We can learn a bit from Marie Kondo at Work here “Do I need to execute it? Does

2. Calculate the value of the resources you could unlock by re-deploying these resources onto more profitable products.

What is it costing you to hold on to this? What is it stopping you from doing? What could you do instead?

I remember feeling overwhelmed by the amount of communities I was involved with as a leader back in 2018. I did a constellation with my coach Sarah Furuya and realised that I needed to step away from my beloved Lean In Circle moderation. Creating the extra space in my diary allowed me to focus on fewer things and do them better.

3. Develop an end-of-life product roadmap.

In some cases you can just stop doing the “thing”, but it isn’t always that simple. When will you stop? How – phased or in one fell swoop? Who do you need to inform of the change? Will you do “After sales service” for a limited period?

Here’s a small example – domestic and relatable to parents I think!

I’m standing on the landing doing the laundry. Cursing under my breath about why my kids clothes are ALL ALWAYS inside out. As I put them right side out (is that a word?!), I have an epiphany “Hang on! Does the customer expect this level of service? Do they even notice it? I think I will stop doing it” Over dinner I announced “I will no longer be putting your clothes right way out. From today, they will be washed in the way that you put them into the laundry. ”

I communicated with stakeholders in a clear and precise way and all is good! No customer complaints and I saved myself 100% of the time on that “feature” of “Mum’s Laundry Service”.

What do you think? Let me know about your experience with sunsetting a belief, behaviour or relationships in the comments or contact me here.

Make March Matter Part X: #DoneanddustedDecember

This free online community was created on February 27th, 2020 as a way to support entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners affected by Coronavirus cancellations.

Our aim is to provide connection, accountability and inspired action. It is a community that brings smiles, cheerleaders and new ideas.

What happened in December?

December 18th was our Christmas Party/ TGIF/ Secret Santa and I was flabbergasted and overwhelmed by a beautiful handmade book with messages of thanks and a complete year in review for #MakeMarchMatter. I’m welling up even writing about this as I was so touched by the love and effort that went into compiling this. I feel so lucky that I have been able to gather such a positive and supportive community and make people’s lives a little bit more bearable through this tough situation. I often have a little conflict as I wish that MMM did not need exist but I am so glad that it does! Thank you all for giving me a reason to get out of bed and a place where I can share my wins, my learnings and to ask for help.

We will continue into January and 2021!

The theme for next month will be…..

Drumroll please……….:


 “Joyful January”

A landslide winner in an uncontested election, as winter brings rising Covid-19 case numbers across the globe, it seems that the community needs to smile.

Joy can be found in the little things and I encourage you to find and make a joyful moment each day this month – for me I am finding it in fresh flowers, lighting a candle, karaoke at home, daily walks after lunch with my husband WFH and reading with my son.

Joyful January: Make March Matter part XI

January Guest Speakers Announcement TBC

You can follow all our events here

See you over at the Facebook Group

How can you support Make March Matter?

1. Contribute

Make March Matter is and will remain a free community. If you are in a position to contribute, I accept payments via PayPal to jennifer.shinkai@gmail.com. Previous contributions ranged from ¥10,000 to ¥30,000 or choose an amount of your choice. Entirely optional and gratefully received.

2. Share your knowledge

I’m actively looking for guest speakers to share your expertise, knowledge and offers to the community. You get a great platform to practice your online facilitation and an engaged and interested audience ready to learn from you. Drop me a DM if you might be interested.

3. Grow the community

Invite your friends and partners who might benefit and bring new ideas to the group.

Share the event reviews on your SNS. 

4. Shine a light

Write a testimonial on my Facebook Business Page https://www.facebook.com/jennifershinkaicoach/

or LinkedIn Page http://jp.linkedin.com/in/jennifershinkai

Can I find my Ikigai in my corporate career?

If you have read my post on Ikigai Myths you know my answer to this. Don’t believe me? Listen to “Ikigai with Jennifer Shinkai: Episode 1 Zane Zumbahlen

You can listen here and please subscribe, share and write a 5 star review!

Prefer YouTube – check out the unedited video here and subscribe to the channel

Know someone who is living an integrated life with their Ikigai as the driving force? Drop me a line to recommend them as a future guest.

Get out of your Comfort Zone: L1 Hello Points Recap

My final L1 Hello Points Academy Programme in English for 2020 has just finished.

4 participants joined online from Japan – 3 were taking the New Academy course having previously completed the old Evangelist Programme and 1 was a brand new member of the Points of You Tribe.

I shared a Facebook Live before each two hour session started. Even though we are meeting online, I enjoyed setting up my centrepiece, using flowers, light and fragrance.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 3 Closing!

Building Resilience in Times of Uncertainty

5 participants joined our final open Points of You® Workshop in English on December 18th. Using a Points of You® process created by Points of You® Expert, Ruth Sangale, participants reviewed four areas of their life to build their daily resilience

  1. Sleep
  2. Nutrition
  3. Social Connection
  4. Physical Wellbeing

It was great to hear that participants had taken action on their commitments after the session – Healthy food, light exercise, quality family time.

Want to find out about future events? Sign up for the Points of You events in English in Japan mailing list and Points of You® Coaching Tools in English in Japan Group on Peatix

Participants dialled in from Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. Several people were using Points of You for the first time!
Participants left energised and with an action plan
High NPS score always makes me feel like I did my job well!
Even though many people were meeting for the first time online, they were able to feel connected and supported in the virtual room. Breakout rooms allowed for more intimate sharing and listening.
The only complaint?It wasn’t long enough! A sign of an engaging topic that resonated with participants.

Ikigai with Jennifer Shinkai Podcast Launch

Did you know that I am launching a podcast about #ikigai?
I interviewed the first guest yesterday!


You’ve probably heard of the Japanese concept of “Ikigai” but are wondering how you can successfully apply it to your life. How do you start living a life of purpose, jumping out of bed, excited to face the day?

Join the Tokyo based, British born facilitator and coach, Jennifer Shinkai and her guests to hear real-life stories of how regular people found and integrated their ikigai. Be inspired by how they took their first steps and how their lives have changed.

Still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up? Looking for practical tips to find your ikigai? Then this show is for you.

Please like, subscribe and share https://anchor.fm/jennifer-shinkai