Write the Contract: Define and Achieve Success on Your Terms

One of life’s toughest challenges is something that we face repeatedly each day: holding ourselves accountable. Being accountable to ourselves requires discipline. It also requires a benchmark, or standard, that we can refer back to, that helps us track our progress. I encourage you to write the contract to yourself, where you define success. It will forever change your course in life.

For most of my business career, I’ve worked with Fortune 500 companies and large government agencies. I have led major project management and transformational initiatives. Each project that we began, we initiated with a charter — or contract. This was a document that I completed and then received sign-off from the project sponsor. It’s an extremely successful way to instill accountability.

Here are the key ingredients:

· An overarching objective

· Definition of Success

· Success Measures (which fortify and serve as milestones for your definition of success

· Goals

· Risks

· Key Deliverables (what you will actually produce — something tangible)

I’ve taken this model and implemented this — with tremendous results — first, in my own life, but also for my coaching clients. I encourage each individual to write a personal charter. Whether you are a writer, small business owner, artist, athlete or student, a well-defined plan will help drive you toward commitment, and increase the probability of achieving your goals.

Dr. Timothy A. Pychyl discusses further:

“In a series of well-designed studies, E.J. Masicampo (Wake Forest University) and Roy Baumeister (Florida State) demonstrated that committing to a specific plan for a goal frees up cognitive resources for our other pursuits. So, in addition to helping us be more successful with the specific goal we’re planning, planning lets us get on with other stuff too. Once a plan is made, we can stop thinking about the one goal and make room for others.” Source: Psychology Today


Here is my objective:

To live each moment to the fullest by having a positive attitude, a smile and genuine enjoyment for life, while giving everything I have to love the people and environment around me, and achieve my goals and success on my terms.

What is yours? Have you thought about this? Maybe your time to do so is this weekend.

One of the major life goals in my personal charter is to publish my first book. A quick win that I achieved was the completion of my first draft. Easier said than done! But once I did, I felt an exhilarating sensation, a helpful dose of adrenaline that has led me to the second draft stage of editing and fixing mistakes.

What are the successes that you are most proud of? Chances are, you had some quick wins along the way that made an enormous difference in propelling you forward.

Quick Wins and Risk

I’ve written previously about the power of defining success on your terms. I’m a big believer that having an overall objective, accompanied by smaller, incremental goals, will help orient you toward what you really want. Successful business leaders that I’ve observed always have an objective in mind. They could tell you what it is on a moment’s notice.

Small incremental goals serve as “quick wins” that help us achieve small successes, in an Agile manner. These quick wins sustain us, empowering and fueling us to continue persevering.

Risks are the potential impediments that could derail and impede our progress forward. This does not mean that they will occur. Just that they are possible. We can assess and assign numerical values to their probability. Furthermore, even if they do, a strong mindset and plan geared toward avoiding and mitigating risks will smooth the road to success.


Accountability is certainly made easier through friends or colleagues that we trust, but the way to really ensure that you’re doing what you resolved to do, is to hold yourself accountable first. I dedicate time — at least once per day — to reviewing my daily or weekly plan. I also review my personal charter on a weekly basis.

While plans will change, your charter should stay the same, as long as you are in noble pursuit of your goals. Like values, which stand the test of time and remain constant, your charter is there to help you weather the storm of changing emotions. It’s a rock-solid foundation of confidence and direction that you can always check-in with to make sure you’re accomplishing all you hope to do.

If you are the best judge of your own success and character — (you are!) — then you are also intelligent and capable enough to measure yourself against what you planned to do. Accountability and productivity tools like Evernote, OneNote and Outlook are wonderful and they DO help. But all the tools in the world won’t actually get you to commit to action.

Only you can do that. You control your willpower.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Take the time to do the work, then begin in earnest to attain the big goals in support of your objective. Get inspired! Use each day as a building block to help lay your foundation, so that before long, you’re well on the way to constructing your masterpiece.

Live Boldly!

If you enjoyed reading this piece, please be so kind as to share and recommend to others. Also, please consider following me here on Medium! My upcoming book on Values is due out this Spring. Contact me via my website here and subscribe for awesome updates if you feel inclined! Like my Facebook writer’s page here!

I’m so grateful for all of your support as I continue to dream and live out my journey. I fully support yours. Keep Going!