Productivity Tips

How to Make A Self-Contract For Your Personal Goals

By June 15, 2015 One Comment

As an event planner, I’m sure that you’ve probably seen every contract there is. You contract between your vendors, your clients, your freelancers and your employees. But there’s probably one contract that you haven’t gotten around to making yet.

If you want to achieve your personal goals or maybe you just want to be productive day in, day out, I propose you create a self-contract to keep you focused on your goals. It’s a commitment contract where you write down what you want to achieve as well as how to achieve it. Often, it also clearly states any rewards for completing the contract as well as any penalties for breaking it.

I know you’re saying, “Well, I don’t think having a contract with myself will work for me.” Well a contract, even one that you make with yourself, is a powerful motivator. Just look at the last vendor contract you signed. I’m pretty sure you went over it to see if it was all in the up and up before agreeing to it. I’m also sure that you’re trying your best not to break any of the clauses of that contract.

Contracts have a weight of importance to them which makes you stick to it, even at times when you don’t want to. It’s not just the penalties that will keep you in line, it’s also the fact that you actually agreed to it when you first signed it.

If you’re worried that a self-contract might become a burden, don’t. The great thing about contracts is that it actually makes life easier for you. You’ll know exactly what to do and how to do it since it’ll be written in the contract. You’ll also be clear about your personal goals because those are stated in the contract as well.

Let me give you a sample contract to get you started:

I, Glenn Santos, abide by the terms of this contract. I vouch to excel in my work, both inside and outside the office. I will give encouragement to everyone I encounter. I vow to do my work on time and whole-heartedly. And yeah, I also promise to put on a fresh pot when I’m the last guy to get from the coffee maker.

As you can see, self-contracts are really simple. Here are a few guidelines you can follow to make it easier to write these down.

  1. The best self-contracts are those that last just for a day, or a week at most. This way, you can always change it as your personal goals change and you won’t be tied down with long term commitments.
  2. Write down your goal for the day and the steps you need to take to achieve it. It doesn’t have to be complicated and legalese, just something that you can easily understand and will actually help guide you in doing your work.
  3. Keep it short and focused, but formal. The formality gives it an air of importance. Keeping it concise means you can easily glance at it every once in a while to refresh the commitment in your mind.
  4. Focus on the upsides of the contract. Concentrate on writing down positive actions and outcomes so that you’re pushed towards a goal, rather than pulled away from consequences.
  5. On the other hand, do add some penalties if you feel that you’re slipping up too often. You can use a site like Stickk or Beeminder to keep yourself accountable by putting real money on the line or putting your reputation at stake (the app can actually post your failures online for all to see).
  6. Agree to it on paper. Print out the contract and sign it. Nothing beats a written signature to seal the deal. You can even post it on your desk if you want.
  7. Change the contract if you feel that you’ve accomplished it already. You don’t need to do a new one from scratch each time. Simply rewrite it to make the new contract fit your day’s needs and goals.

I know writing is hard, so I’ve actually gone out and found a form version of the self-contract. Just fill this up and you’re good to go.

Now that you have your contract signed, it’s time to get to work! Think of your self-contract as a guide to doing your work, something that has your back and will keep you accountable to yourself.

As one wise man once said to me, “rules are there to help us maximize our enjoyment of life.”

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Author Glenn Santos

Glenn has been writing about technology, productivity and lifehacks for 10 years now. He was previously an editor for Android Authority and Geeky Gadgets, and was one of the first contributors for Startup Weekend's main blog.

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  • Jack McLean

    Great article! I also found it helps to stay committed to things if you make it a social commitment. So perhaps having a friend or co-worker sign off would help keep people in line with the goal.

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