New Year’s resolutions take a few minutes to make and a few weeks to break. Making a contract with yourself can make it easier to reach your goals.
What’s the Purpose?
When you write down exactly what you’re trying to accomplish and make it visible, it acts as a reminder and makes you accountable for your actions. Even the smallest behaviors take time to change, so you need to constantly remind yourself what you are trying to do (and the benefits of those choices!).
There are also the excuses — you’re too busy, the kids are sick, it’s a bad time at work, etc. Once you’ve set your goals, you’re putting them out there and making a plan to reach them despite all the excuses (whether they’re legitimate or not).
When writing out a contract and setting your goals, here are a few guidelines which will help you stick with it:
- Set one to three small, reachable goals (examples listed below).
- Your time limit should be within one to two weeks.
- Ask another person to sign the contract and be your witness (someone who can be your cheerleader!)
- Post your contract in an easily visible location (on your night table, taped to the bathroom mirror or on the refrigerator).
- Review your contract when it expires and create new goals, revise what you have or continue with ones your have achieved.
Small, Achievable Goals
Setting a goal like “I want to lose 30 pounds in two months” is not ideal. Instead, think about what basic things you’ll need to do in your everyday life to reach your ultimate goal.
- Here are some good examples:
- Eat fruits and veggies for a snack instead of chips and cookies.
- Drink 8 cups of water every day instead of soda and other sugary beverages.
- Eat whole grains for at least one meal a day (e.g. oatmeal for breakfast and whole-wheat bread at lunch)
- Take a 30-minutes walk after dinner four days this week.
- Grill, broil, boil, roast or bake food instead of frying.
- Choose three healthy recipes to cook this week.
Tracking Your Progress
Monitor your achievements in a diary and by creating a checklist that you can tick off. It helps track your progress and makes you feel great when you see all the hard work you’ve done.
You’ll encounter challenges that may deter you from achieving your goals — it’s important to identify what they are and think about how to overcome them. For example, if you tend to grab a chocolate bar at your 3pm work break, plan to bring a healthy snack to eat instead (i.e. a yogurt and fresh fruit). Slip-ups are a normal part of this process, so don’t be so hard on yourself if it takes you a few extra tries to meet your goal.
Creating A Contract
You can write your own contract and print it out. Here is a sample contract:
During the next week I agree to: (list between one to three small goals)
Some challenges I may face:
To deal with these challenges I plan to:
Witness signature: (make this a person who’s rooting for you and/or has similar goals)
The free website Stickk.com enables you to make an online contract and is a fun and easy method to help you stay motivated and keep you on track.
Once you’ve reached your goal, reward yourself! But don’t turn to foods — an ice cream sundae or a fried-food fest — to do it. Make a list of non-food bonuses you’d enjoy or use some ideas from below:
- Make time for a relaxing bubble bath.
- Get a manicure.
- Download new songs for your mp3 player.
- Buy a new pair of walking or running shoes.
TELL US: What are some of your goals for the new year?