Buddy System Basics

Our chief want in life is somebody who shall make us do what we can.– Ralph Waldo Emerson

The “buddy” support system is recommended to help you stay focused on the best, most loving use of your time. It allows you to get support throughout the week rather than just once a week.

What is a buddy system?

It’s simply pairing up with another person for mutual support on goals. Usually buddies take turns calling each other, sometimes twice a week, sometimes daily. During each call, each person reports on their progress since the last call and their plans until the next call.


Why have a Buddy?

  • Ongoing personal support
  • Mutual encouragement
  • To remind you to do something
  • Creates ‘soft’ deadlines that give you structure


Good Buddy Behaviors

  • Listen actively, occasionally communicating back to them the core message of what you think they said.
  •  If your buddy doesn’t make a clear goal, ask them what they will specifically do by the next phone call.
  • Keep the conversations reasonably short and to the point.
  • Periodically, ask for the kind of support you want (guidance, feedback, suggestions, information, empathy, etc.) and ask them what kind of support they want.


Other Buddy Tips

These are suggestions, so adapt them to your own style:

  • Find someone with a similar level of desire, and, if possible, similar interests and goals. Ask if they would be willing to make and receive “buddy” support phone calls. (Weekly breakfast or luncheon meetings are another suggestion.)
  • When you first set up the arrangement, set it up for a finite time. Suggestion: 1-2 months. If you have a lot of goals, then find two buddies and split your goals.
  • Use the buddy system for goals for which you need support. Choose a goal that is “a reasonable stretch.” If you use your buddy’s support for things that you’d do anyway, you’re just wasting your time.
    Set up regular times to call. During the first week one call a day, or a call every two days is suggested, to give you a strong start. Otherwise, twice a week seems to work well. For instance, my buddy would call me late Tuesday night, and I would call her on Saturday mornings.
  • A little chitchat is good, but limit the length of the call. Suggestion: 10-15 minutes. (Decide this together, so that you both have the same expectation.) If you start to take too long, then one or the other may start to put off the calls.
  • In each call both of you must make a report of: a) your specific progress since the last call, and b) your specific plan until the next call. If you don’t set numeric goals, things start to get fuzzy. For example, it’s probably too vague to say, “I will exercise twice” unless you have a specific exercise routine in mind. It’s better to say, “I will jog twice for 20-30 minutes.” Sometimes putting in a range gives you flexibility. Examples: “I will make three to seven calls for the Parent Teacher Organization.” “I will write two to four letters to old friends.”
  • Give yourself permission to fail. Sometimes other things get in the way. However, if you keep falling short of your goal, maybe you set your goal too high. If you keep procrastinating, decide if you really want to do it or not.
  • Often, even with the best of intentions, a particular Buddy pairing doesn’t work, or it eventually peters out. Talk with your buddy if you notice a drop in motivation; maybe an adjustment needs to be made. Otherwise, rather than end in a fizzle, make a crisp ending and express gratitude for whatever support you’ve received. Then, if this process helps you, find a new buddy!
  • It also helps to express some enthusiasm and appreciation of the other person’s efforts.  And an occasional “Good job!” helps when you’re sincere.


Buddy Matching Steps

With your buddy:

1. Trade phone numbers. Write the buddy’s name and number where you won’t lose it.

2. Decide the approximate times you’re going to call and write yourself a reminder.

3. Decide who calls first.

4. Check with each other about leaving messages, whether or not it’s okay.

5. Talk about what you’ll do if one forgets to call. Probably the other should call. (One idea is to call and ring once as a reminder at the pre-arranged time.)

6. Each partner takes about five minutes to share on their progress and then the kind of goals they will be working on.