There are few things in life that are as helpful in getting over the hard hurdles we sometimes must go through, as a good friend or mentor who can hold us accountable for our actions. I learned this great lesson while serving a mission for my church. In an attempt to lose weight and eat healthier, I went on an ‘eating contract’ with my mission leader. Since that time, I have gone on a handful of other contracts, each with a different person, different contract perimeters, and different success rates. Consequently I have learned quite a bit about what encourages success and what can hamper it. In this blog I will attempt to map out the best road to success in using this great tool.
Set an Attainable Goal
1. Your goal should have a defined start date and a defined end date.
2. Your goal should not be dependent on reaching a specific weight, or in any way associated with something that could possibly not happen even while being strictly obedient to your contract. If I set my goal as, “Reach x weight by August 31.” It is very possible that my goal could not be reached even if I am as faithful as a hound dog to my contract. Then I would be a failure, even if I succeeded.
Instead, make your goal dependent on actions and progress. A good goal might be, depending on level of goal keeping, “Complete one day without cheating.” OR “Exercise three times a week.”
Which leads to tip #3
3. Be specific on what your goal and restrictions are. When I was on certain eating contracts, I cut out all desserts, while on others I simply stopped eating after 7:00pm. What is your goal? Do you want to maintain? Do you want to live healthier? Do you want to exercise? Do you want to overcome an addiction? Create or break a habit? Learn a new skill? What?
If you are wanting to live healthier and not eat dessert, then what foods apply? Do Juice popsicles? Or frozen yogurt? Or strawberries and milk?
BUT DON’T OVERDO IT. It is very possible to give yourself too many restrictions, then the goal is impossible to keep. Below is the wording of one of my most successful contracts. (success being that I completed the contract, lost weight, got into better habits, and felt wonderful while doing it)
-Some form of exercise every day (this could be as simple as taking a walk, or doing 100 jumping jacks. If at the end of the day I forgot to exercise for that day, I would do 100 jumping jacks then go to bed.
-No desserts (this did NOT include juice popsicles made with real juice and no sugar. It also didn’t include frozen yogurt sweetened with fruit juice. So when I wanted a treat, I could have one.)
-No eating after 7:00. (Juice popsicles didn’t count as eating because they were all juice.)
4. Hold yourself accountable. Find someone whom you respect greatly and get them involved. It is best if they are wanting to reach certain goals as well. After your contracts are written, they are exchanged. This way the other person knows exactly what you attend to do and what your goals are.
5. Incentive. If you break your contract, you owe your partner something. With me, it was $100. That’s a steep number that I would much rather spend on something else, so when I was tempted to cheat, that $100 kept me from it.
Accountability is so important in helping to attain goals. Try it out, see what you think.