Updated: Nov 19, 2020
There are two people who matter in a personal contract, you now and you in the future. A personal contract is operating agreements that we make with ourselves to remind us of who we are and how we work best in times of conflict, challenge and stress. When we contract with ourselves, we are agreeing that we know what's best for us.
In the summer of 2019, I experienced a heartbreak that I didn't see coming amidst one of the biggest contracts I had ever managed and facilitated. I knew I needed a way to keep up with my business, while I worked through and processed my grief. I wanted something that I could turn to to remind me of what helps me find balance; practices that I knew served me, especially in times like this.
For example, I felt that I needed one day a week to do the grunt work of my business, so I made a deal with myself. If I saw I had four busy days, I would try to hold the fifth one as my "get things done" day. At the same time, I knew that not all weeks were going to allow that, so I added an 80/20 rule to my contract. I would allow current circumstances to adjust my contract as needed.
Since I work with several partners, I also added, "If a partner is slammed and I can help, I help." Over time, my contract grew, and eventually I let go of elements that no longer served, and added others, based on experiences and needs. A work opportunity came along that I knew I was too busy to take on, but instead of saying "no," I asked myself, "Whose opportunity is this?" and I passed the work along to a grateful colleague. "I need to do that more," I found myself saying. Instantly, I added the practice of asking, "Whose opportunity is this?" to my personal contract.
And that's what the contract is there to do. It stores the good moments we learn from and the lessons we learn, so that we ground those principles and put them into practice.
No personal contract is identical. Each one is unique to that individual. A personal contract can take the form of a list, a collage, or even voice memos that you leave for yourself. The most important function of the contract is that it is visible in a way that you remember to look at it and alter it from time to time as you gain new experiences.
Three recommended steps before continuing...
We recommend that you include some of the following elements in building your personal contract, and then make it your own! To help you, we've created this worksheet.
Self care and energy renewal routines
Your personal decision-model
An accountability practice How will you remember to use your contract?
A revision process How well are you following your contract? What no longer serve and might need to shift?
An out (i.e. "80/20 rule") The purpose is NOT to beat ourselves up trying to do everything all the time.
Do a check on your contract to make sure it is specific and measurable. Consider if there is a desired frequency each of the practices.
Use this worksheet to draft your personal contract.
If you need help, use this example.
Consider if it needs to live in a different format and where you will keep it.
Set a reminder next week or next month to revisit and revise your contract.
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