Effective Life Changes: Self-Contracts

This blog post was inspired by a Ted talk I just watched from Mark Adams. He mentions a system called Lock-in. A brief scouring of the internet didn’t get anywhere for me, but I did manage to extract some value from his talk.

Let’s call this system Self-Contracts. It’s a work in progress, and I’ll keep this post as it’s home for now.


You will need the following. Create a cloud text document or your favourite record system and start writing the following:


You’re trying to make an improvement in your life, so most likely you’re trying to give yourself an Enabling Constraint.


You’ve got to make ‘doing the thing’ the lesser evil – the penalty for not doing it needs to be a lot worse.


What you have to risk if you fail.


What you stand to gain should you succeed.


These are people involved that have a vested interest in you succeeding. They may cast shame upon you (depending on how you structure your contract) if you breach your contract.

Exit Criteria

What would be required to make this self-contract obsolete and never reoccur?


A set period of time for your self-contract to be in effect


The self-contract is indefinite or unbounded by time. There may still be conditions to exit a self-contract not based on time.


Self-Contract: Alcohol Constraint

Constraint: No drinking alcohol when above 95KGs in body weight.
Penalty: Social Shame
Risk: Pride, seen to have no control.
Reward: Health, Productivity, Control.
Stakeholders: Flatmates
Exit Criteria: Discovering a life-threatening disease, where drinking alcohol is the least of my worries.


This is a work in progress. Any suggestions to refine, constructive criticism is welcomed. Feel free to leave a comment.

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