The gist is that we are much more inclined to keep contracts/promises/agreements made with an outside party because we can better envision and anticipate the consequences. If you promise you're going to meet a friend for an outdoor, socially-distanced coffee and you don't, you know that without a very compelling reason for your absence, your friend will be a little perturbed. Plus, being reliable is common courtesy.
But we break promises to ourselves all the time, often without a second thought. The problem with that is, we become accustomed to our unreliability. A way to be more mindful about this is simply to write it down.
Take one or two of the more important items from your to-do list and elevate them to the next level of commitment by writing a contract with yourself.
- Give each a separate slip of paper.
- Be as formal (I, the undersigned, hereby affirm...) or as casual (I'm Gonna _______) as you wish.
- Use specific language regarding what you will do and when. Big statements such as "I will clean the garage" can end up feeling wishy-washy and/or overwhelming. Give yourself a wide enough window to account for the life's unpredictability.
- Sign and date the bottom.
- Post it where you will see it every day.
- When the contract is fulfilled, give it a big star or an A+ for a job well done.
- If you don't manage to follow through for whatever reason, assign a consequence and renegotiate the terms.