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Resolutions, Odysseus contract and 5 ways to hold yourself accountable.

It’s new year, you decide to commit to some sort of transformation, you make a plan and start taking action with enthusiasm. Three weeks later you skip a commitment, then another two and before February is over you are back to the same behaviour as before with no change in sight. Sound familiar?

Odysseus had to pass the sirens on his way home from Troy. The sirens sang so beautifully that no mortal could resist the temptation to steer their ship towards them and to their death on the rocks beneath them. He needed to commit to getting past the sirens without giving up and giving in to their temptations so he got his crew to tie him to the mast, ignore his pleas to change course and continue past the Sirens with their ears filled with beeswax.

Metaphorically speaking, tying yourself to a future outcome in a way that is very difficult to break is one way to keep your self accountable and not give in or give up. Here are the top 5 ways to do that

1. Commit to an event.

Committing to an event, paying a fee and having your name written down as a participant is a difficult thing to give up on. Consequently, it helps you commit to a goal that comes as a consequence of the participation and requires practice or dedication to meet the commitment.

I want to be a better speaker, commit to be on a speaking panel or a play or toastmasters' event. I want to be fitter commit to a cycle touring holiday, or a 10k run, or a rowing competition. I want to be a writer, commit to a blog article, or a local paper or a book review.

2. Tell all your friends what you intend to do.

Nothing is more difficult to give up on that something you have told a lot of people you are going to do. Your reputation for being reliable honest and trustworthy is reinforced by completing your commitments. You will strive with all your energy to meet this. I am going to change careers, oh great how has that been going? I am going to grow my own vegetables, have you any veg for me from your garden yet? I am going to see more of my parents, did you visit your parents recently?

3. Giving yourself a reward for success

We very rarely explicitly reward ourselves and we always have something that we value and would love to receive as a reward. Tying a goal or resolution to a reward can be a terrific incentive to get moving on a change of behaviour or set of actions. I will buy myself a new motorbike when I get that new job. I will take a weekend in a spa once I have completed my training course. I will buy my partner dinner for all of their support once I have managed to delegate 10% of my workload.

4. Put a structure in place

Having some form of structure that continually reminds you of what you have resolved to do works very well as it is there reminding you until you have done what you said. For example, wearing your watch on the wrong wrist until you have written your to do list for the day. Having a stone in your pocket that reminds you to keep calm and ties you back to a time you were quintessentially calm. or even more simply booking a series of times in your agenda when you will write that book you said you were going to.

5. Get a coach

Anything you want to transform can be affected by the support of a trained coach. With a coach there is no getting away from it, there are there to encourage, support, hold you accountable and get that transformation done. You want to be fitter, get a coach. You want to be a better manager, get a coach. You want to get a better work life balance, get a coach.

If any of the above a ringing any bells and you are struggling to hold yourself accountable to transform into the person you want to be please reach out and contact me on I would be delighted to have a chat and hear what you want to achieve.

PS. Thanks to David Eagleman, professor of Neuroscience at Huston and his book The Brian for the Odysseus contract reference.


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