Dump New Year’s Resolutions – Make a Contract with Yourself Instead

Interview by Brooke Hunter Business Insider with Darleen Barton

According to Darleen Barton, Australia’s leading ‘relationship whisperer’, life coach, counsellor and mediator and bestselling author, we need to dump New Year’s resolutions and instead make a contract with ourselves. Research shows that New Year’s resolutions are a waste of time and the majority of people do not follow through with their commitments.

Leading business site, Business Insider, states that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. Even worse, Forbes states that only 8% of resolutions are achieved.

“Every year millions of people make New Year’s resolutions and most of them fail,” Darleen said today.

“If we are serious about improving our life, making key changes and achieving the things we want to achieve, we need to start taking change seriously.

“2024” should be the best year ever and it can be if people are prepared to get serious. Forget New Year’s resolutions, they are a waste of time. Instead make a contract with yourself. “We only live once, why not get serious about getting the best out of it. We enter into commercial contracts to buy things as basic as phones, internet and Netflix. Why not enter into a commercial contract with ourselves to improve our life. Isn’t our life the most valuable thing we have? Surely it’s more important than Netflix?

“Making a contract with yourself is easy and it involves five key steps:

Work out what you want to achieve in 2024

Identify what you want to achieve and by when and what you need to do or change to achieve this

Speak with significant people in your life to discuss the changes you need to make to achieve your goal/s

Discuss your goals with your inner circle, Counsellor or Coach. They may have suggestions and good ideas to help you. Get their buy in and ask them to assist you with moral support and encouragement

Draw up a contract with yourself to confirm the actions, dates and milestones

Detail in your contact with yourself what you are going to do, when and how. Be specific and make sure the document includes clear milestones

Build in rewards for yourself as you reach milestones and goals

Ensure you reward yourself along the way. Self-encouragement is important and a vital part of growth and development. Keep your inner circle updated on your progress through progress reports. If you are in the position to hire a Counsellor or Coach they can help you stay on track and keep you accountable.

Sign the document in front of your inner circle – get them to witness it

“Signing the contract should be a celebratory affair – you are embarking on a life changing journey. Involve your inner circle in the signing event and have them sign the contract as well. Put your contract in a prominent place in your home/life and provide a copy to your inner circle, Counsellor or Coach.

“Entering into a contract with yourself in this way will give you the structure, motivation and plan to create the life you want to achieve. By involving your inner circle it will provide you with the support you need and the accountability, motivation required to slay your goals. You can even go one step further and build in contract defaults, that ensure you penalise yourself if you don’t make the required progress.

“I strongly encourage everyone to start preparing their ‘self-contract’ now. Work out what you want to achieve and what you need to do to achieve it. Make New Year’s Eve about the signing celebration, where you sign and celebrate your new contract with yourself with those in your inner circle.

“Make 2024 your best year yet. Do something about it. Sign a contract with yourself.”


Question: Why are New Year’s Resolutions a waste of time?

Darleen Barton: Most New Year’s resolutions are made on the spur of the moment. They are not well thought out and they usually have no purpose attached to them; eg. I am going to give up drinking – WHY? If the reason is because you feel guilty about the amount you’re drinking, you are more likely to stop for a week or two until the next social event. Your original purpose was not a strong enough WHY. Billy Connelly once said, he gave up drinking many years ago before someone told him he had too. It was his contract with himself!

When you value you and respect you, you will come up with a strong enough WHY to withstand temptation.

Setting goals without a plan for execution is a wish… put some work into your plan for execution. Big picture = Small picture.

Set one audacious goal, that goal is so big you need to keep striving to reach it… then set smaller goals. This is what I call “The Peak-to-peak achievement matrix”

eg: an audacious goal maybe travel the world… the smaller goal is to travel to Bali…the milestones maybe your financial commitments along the way eg: save 10% of my salary weekly towards Bali and 5% towards my world trip.

Let’s do some basic numbers…

The plan would be to tweak and hone your lifestyle; milestone could also include eg: 3x lattes per week instead of 3x a day.

3 x $6 latte coffee = $18 per day = annually $6570

Now that’s a WOW factor $6570!

Could you imagine what you could be doing with $6570?

Multiply this over 5 years $32850.00 and we have not factored in compounding interest if you were investing your savings.  

All of a sudden your audacious goal is not so audacious, it is easy to achieve.

By breaking your financial spend down to the ridiculous eg; a cup of coffee… you will become laser focused on what lifestyle holes your money is leaking through.

Each goal comes with milestones; anything worth doing is worth measuring. Milestones are your “yard stick” you know you are heading for success when you are reaching your milestones on your way to reaching your goals. Tip: Small incremental movements forward has sustainable results, there is no escalator to success, YOU must take the stairs.

Setting up a contract with yourself is as easy as a clearly defined plan for the execution of your goals. First you need to understand the word commitment. What is a commitment? Dictionary: Making a commitment involves dedicating yourself to something, like a person or a cause. Before you make a commitment, think carefully. A commitment obligates you to do something. Some commitments are large, like marriage. … You also can speak of commitment as a human quality.

Reward yourself with a sense of satisfaction! Why? is it necessary to reward yourself with things? Well, it’s not… the need for more things is what has gotten us into strife in the past. Start to look at the simple things in life, bring it back to being proud of yourself for achieving. Relish the feeling of beating your personal bests, be grateful for the opportunity to become better.

If your goals involve saving money because you have been a spend thrift, then rewarding yourself with spending money seems counterproductive.

DIPAC stands for Discipline- Innovation- Persistence- Attitude & Courage WHY? Because we all need these attributes in self to be successful…What is success for you? You may need to define what success is for you as it is different for everyone.

When we are striving to be better and do better one of the battles we fight is ‘self-sabotage” and a lack of “Self- Management” this is an inner battle stemming from “self-talk” thoughts and feelings etc… the last thing we need are friends who do not respect your contract with yourself, your commitment. Your inner circle of friends will not be the people who sabotage you. Choose who is on your support team wisely!

Darleen Barton: I set my goals monthly, each month on the 15th I set a new goal. This way I am not running with the pack thinking from the 1st to the 30th of each month. I use to run sales teams in the same way, this way they will not start to slow down coming to the end of each standard 1st to the 30th of each month.

Question: Why do you believe most people have either dumped or forgotten their new year’s resolutions by February?

Darleen Barton: Many people get caught up in the hype and celebration of new years and want to be part of the experience. They make New Year’s resolutions because that’s what everyone else is doing or it seems like a great idea at the time. The problem is that by the time the celebrations have ended, the hangover has subsided and people have returned to their day to day lives, they forget all about the resolutions or lose interest. Changing your life requires commitment and commitment requires action – action which takes you out of your comfort zone and forces you to make sacrifices. Most people lose motivation to achieve their resolutions because they just can’t be bothered.

Question: Why would you create a contract with you in 2024?

All appointments are made on the DIPAC website www.dipac.com.au