Making a PACT with Yourself

The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit.” —Anonymous

Do you want to achieve something significant in work and/or your personal life? Get a promotion, develop a new product, learn a foreign language, write a book, or lose weight? If so, you need to make a PACT with yourself.

PACT is an acronym for Plan, Action, Consistency, and Time:

  • P is for Plan. Rarely (if ever) is it possible to achieve something without a reasonable and logical plan to guide you. To develop these plans, one must actually start at the end, envisioning what, specifically, you want “success” to look like. This is the end goal. To develop that goal, I like to use another acronym called “SMART,” for Specific, Measurable, Aggressive, Realistic, and Time-bound, to define what exactly I want to achieve. Then I work backward from there, putting a logical and sensible plan in place to achieve the result. For instance, I might determine that my SMART goal is to drop 25 pounds of body weight within four months. This is specific (i.e., 25 pounds), it’s measurable (I can stand on a scale ever week to judge progress), it’s aggressive (25 is a relatively big, motivating number), it’s realistic (25 is not too big of a number to be discouraging), and it’s time-bound (I have four months to accomplish it). Once I have this SMART goal determined, I can put in place my Plan, which might be: a) lower my overall daily food intake to 1800 calories, 75 carbs, no junk food; b) exercise 30 minutes every day, alternating between aerobic and anaerobic exercises; and c) reward progress with a weekly “cheat” meal. Define what you want to achieve and create a plan to get there.

  • A is for Action. Next I have to get started. It’s been said that the best time to plant a tree is yesterday, and the second best time is today. Said another way: get started now. Don’t wait. Put all the tools and processes in place to make your Plan happen now. For the weight-loss plan, above, this might include such things as eliminating all junk food from the house, signing up for a gym membership, and getting buy-in on the plan from your significant other. And then starting. Make taking Action easy by “greasing the skids” ahead of time. And then Act. Don’t wait. It’s too easy to put off for tomorrow these kinds of things. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Take that step today!

  • C is for Consistency. Okay, so you’ve taken one step. Now take the next. Keep reminding yourself why you’re doing this and looking up at the big picture goal—but keep the majority of your focus on the day-to-day steps. Half of success in life is simply showing up every day. Consistency and staying the course is vital to success. All the Planning and first-step Actions are worthless if you don’t maintain discipline and keep at it. As another wag once said, “Excellence is a journey. Discipline is the vehicle."

  • T is for Time. The fourth and final step in the PACT process is Time. You must let time unfold. Rarely are their overnight successes at anything. You can’t rush progress; good things usually take a goodly amount of time. You decided to plant tree, you planted it, and every day you show up to water and tend to it. Now let Time do it’s relentless thing. The tree will grow, but you have to let it. Canyons are carved over eons by the steady and relentless flow of water. Surely, losing a few pounds and getting in shape are worth waiting for. Don’t be impatient.

If you achieve something significant you must make a PACT with yourself. Otherwise, you’re simply dreaming. Plan, Act, be Consistent, and then let Time unfold. It’s that simple. In fact, the hardest part is coming up with what you want to achieve first.

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