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Can a personal behavior contract help you with this year’s goals and resolutions? 

It’s that time of year to begin reflecting on your past twelve months and plan for the new year. As you begin reflecting on your personal and professional goals and achievements, you might realize that you need to develop a simple, motivating plan for the new year. As you look back on the resolutions you planned for last year, you may find that one of your goals has been on your list longer than you would like to admit, and your methods to achieve your goal have not worked. You may even find yourself having a new goal that is extremely important to achieve, and you’re looking for a tool to keep yourself motivated and accountable.

Using a personal behavior contract is a great tool to keep you motivated and accountable when taking on a new goal, or a goal that has previously been challenging for you.

There are a few important components to include for a successful personal behavior contract. One component is the identification of results-driven goals, which are achieved with a result or destination.

For example, your goal might be running a race by April 1, 2022. The end product of this goal is running the race before the deadline. Most New Year’s resolutions are written in this format, however, developing a behavior-driven goal with a behavior contract will allow you to focus on the necessary behaviors you will need to achieve your goal. A behavior contract helps you make smaller commitments.

For example, I will jog three miles, four days a week, at a pace of eight minutes per-mile on my treadmill for two months. And I will measure my success by using a self-monitoring sheet. When you reflect on the success of your past year goals and plan your new goals, it is important to define the behavior you need to adopt to reach your desired results.

You will develop your behavior contract for motivation and accountability.

Necessary components to include in your contract will be defining the behavior you want to increase or decrease. You will want to add examples of what your behavior should and should not look like. Another important component is your timeframe. You will need to choose how you will gauge time. You also must include a measuring tool such as a calendar, checklist, or record-keeper to keep you motivated each time you participated in the desired behavior.

Your behavior contract will also provide details of what happens when you reach your criteria and how you will receive access to your reinforcer, such as the following: When having four shaded boxes on my calendar, I can have access to purchasing a vanilla latte. An example goal would be, If you have 80% of your boxes shaded at thirty days, you can purchase a new pair of running shorts. You also could create a bonus reinforcer such as this: If you have 81% or higher boxes shaded after thirty days, you can have lunch with a friend.

You want your reinforcer to be an item or activity that you will want to work for. You will include what you will lose if you don’t reach criteria, too. Once you write your behavior contract, sign it for motivation and accountability. Remembering to change your behavior is important in establishing an environment where you can succeed.

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Holly Metzger-Brown

Holly Metzger-Brown, M.Ed., CSA, GC-ABA, BCBA, LBS is the Learn & Play Director at the York Jewish Community Center. She graduated from Lycoming College, where she played varsity tennis and basketball. She has a master’s degree in teacher leadership and education. Holly is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, certified POINTE PROGRAM consultant, and certified tennis instructor. She has been published in several books, journals and magazines, including Onsite Fitness, Netplay, Wacky Ways to Succeed with ADHD, Strategies, TennisPro, Yorkids and Community Rec. She has been locally and nationally recognized for her youth fitness and sports programs.

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