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Consider It Done: Keeping every promise

Keep any promise you make to yourself


Here’s how you can guarantee that you will keep any promise to yourself.

My story


In September of 1986, I was receiving royalties from a computer program I had designed, developed, and patented. I was a software engineer at that time. The program was called “The Magical Poet." It wrote a customized, 15-line limerick for (and about) a friend or relative based on some information the user provided.


As a result of the royalties, I was no longer concerned about my income. I took this opportunity to step back and look at my life.


I keep breaking promises that I make to myself!

I said to myself, “I’m fairly happy and fairly successful, but there’s one problem that keeps bugging me. I don’t keep promises to myself very well. I promise myself that I will exercise. I do it for a few weeks and then I stop. I promise that I will call a prospective client each day. I might do that for two days and then I stop. What a difference it would make in my life if I could consistently keep my promises to myself!”


Having studied psychology and motivation for many years, I knew that nothing existed that would guarantee that I would keep my promises to myself. But I intuitively felt that I could solve this problem.


The breakthrough

After working for several months on the idea, on December 27, 1986, I implemented a technique, which later became known as “Consider It Done.”


Being the extremist that I sometimes am, I went overboard and made, on average, 30 promises to myself every day.  Some of these were small promises, like flossing my teeth; others were bigger promises, like regular exercise. Over a two-month period, I kept over 99 percent of these promises!


I was so delighted and amazed with the results that I started telling all my friends about it. The most common response was, “Dwight, I could use that, too!”


Most other people had the same problem

I have since discovered that more than 95 percent of the people I talk with are willing to admit that consistently fulfilling one or more promises to themselves would make a significant impact on their lives.


This changed my career

As a result, in April of 1987, I changed careers, becoming a life coach, and made the “Consider It Done” technique part of the service I offered to people I have kept statistics on my clients who have used “Consider It Done.” On average, they keep 98.7 percent of the promises they make within the “Consider It Done” structure.

Results others got

  • I had one salesman increase his income, back in 1991, from $2,000 per month to $10,000 per month in three months just from “Consider It Done” promises.

  • I’ve had countless clients lose the weight they wanted to and get themselves into good physical shape.

  • I’ve had another client finish writing a book he was stalled on.

  • I’ve had other clients create structures for both accomplishment and leisure in their lives, structures that have made a huge difference in their satisfaction.


Courage is needed

Even though at base, “Consider It Done” is a powerful support structure, it is often a major choice of courage to initiate it and continue with it.


Here’s how it works


There are three major cornerstones to “Consider It Done.”


Cornerstone #1

Choose an action agreement that you know you need support in keeping. It can be a periodic or a one-time action.

Criteria for selecting an action you want to guarantee

a) Specific and measurable

The action must be specific and measurable. You must be able to clearly say to yourself after the event:  “Yes, I did it,” or “No, I didn’t do it.” For example, if you say, “I will get a good workout every Monday, Wednesday, Friday,” that is not specific and measurable. But if you say, “I will treadmill at least 4.5 mph for a minimum of 20 minutes every Monday, Wednesday, Friday,” that is specific and measurable.


b) Do-able and under your control

The action must be completely do-able and in your control  under normal and expected background conditions. For example, if you’re in sales and you say, “I will make a minimum of one new sale each business day,” this is probably not do-able; you can influence but you cannot really control whether or not you make one sale per day. However, if you say, “I will place a minimum of five telephone calls to prospective clients each business day,” that would be within your control under normal and expected background conditions.


By consistently controlling what we can control, in terms of our actions, then, in the long run, we can get the results that we cannot directly control.

c) The action must fit within your personal ecology


The action must be ecologically sound on a personal level. This means that you must look at all the other everyday needs and commitments that normally require your time or resources and ask yourself, “Does adding this action agreement to everything else I must do and everything else I say I will do make sense?Will it all fit on my plate?”

If it will not fit, then you must choose to cancel something else, become creative, or forget about your new agreement.


Cornerstone #2

Choose a consequence to attach to your action. You are essentially agreeing that, if you do not keep the agreement, then you will perform the consequence within two days.

The purpose of the consequence is to not incur the consequence; the purpose of the consequence is to guarantee the action.

You want to choose a consequence that is unpleasant enough so that, if you’re in one of those moods in which you might want to ignore your agreement, you will look at your consequence and say to yourself, “I think I’ll just keep my agreement!”


The consequence is not a punishment; it is just a consequence. You have already experienced consequences from not keeping this agreement previously, much larger consequences than the one you’re setting here.

The problem with those natural consequences is they haven’t been compelling enough (in your moment-by-moment awareness) to guarantee the action.

With “Consider It Done,” we bring the consequences up close, we customize it for you, and we make it “for sure.” In other words, we make you an offer you can’t refuse and we make it compelling. This way, you perform the action (keep the agreement) rather than incur the consequence.

Or, should you incur the consequence, you satisfy it right away. It’s over with. There’s no guilt, and you get going again immediately with your agreements. With “Consider It Done,” there is no guilt when you don’t keep an agreement.


Let me give you some examples of possible consequences

These are just examples; you can choose your own.


Take a one-minute cold shower. Burn a $10 bill or flush coins down the toilet. Eat a teaspoon of dog food.


For some types of agreements, it’s better to create a pro-rated consequence, a consequence which is proportional to the quantity of the agreement not kept.


Let’s imagine that you make an action agreement to spend one hour per day studying for a test. If you spend the full hour, of course, there is no consequence. However, let’s imagine that you spent 45 minutes, but not the full hour. If your consequence is to take a one-second cold shower for each minute not spent studying, then you would have to take a 15-second cold shower within two days. If you did not keep any part of your agreement, you would have to take a cold shower for a full minute!


Special note: Do not make the consequence bigger than it needs to be. This is just a consequence, not a punishment.


You intention is to not incur the consequence; it’s to support the action. However, should you incur the consequence, you have to be willing to satisfy it.


Cornerstone #3

Make a daily accountability report to your accountability partner.


You must have a partner to make this process work. Our ability to re-negotiate with ourselves is so well developed that it is important to make our promises not only to ourselves but also to someone else whom we respect and who is willing to hold us accountable for what we say we want in our lives.


Selecting an effective accountability partner is important


Use these guidelines and criteria.


  1. Choose someone whom you really respect and from whom you want respect.

  2. Do not choose a spouse or lover. It is generally not a good idea to choose a very close friend either. With such a person, there is often the potential for either collusion and/or resentment to develop.

  3. Choose a person you know is willing to be rigorous with you and not let you off the hook.

  4. Choose a person you know is reliable so you are sure that, should you neglect to make your accountability report, she or he will contact you immediately to get your report, and collect the non-report consequence (more on this later), and get everything going again.

  5. Choose a person who has a voice-mail system and/or e-mail system and/or texting system that she or he checks daily, so that you can easily report to them without inconveniencing them or yourself.


Here is how your accountability report works


You can report every day, you can report Monday through Friday, or you can report on specific days of the week that you designate. Generally speaking, you should make a report for every day in which you’ve made agreements.

For example, if you only had one agreement to exercise every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, then it would make sense to report on those days only. Most people, however, have agreements that cover every day of the week, so it makes it simple and easy to report every day.


The deadline for your report is noon on the day (although you might have reason to make this different) after your agreement was scheduled. For example, if your agreements are scheduled for Monday, then you would have until noon on Tuesday to make your report for those agreements. If you do not report by that time, then your accountability partner should get back to you before the end of that day to get your report for the previous day and to confirm the collection of the non-report consequence (more about the non-report consequence below).


I strongly recommend that you create the habit of making your report in the evening before you go to bed.

Even though you have until noon of the next day to report, consider it a safety margin that you don’t play with. As a structure to support yourself in remembering to report, I recommend putting five rubber bands

(enough so you will notice them when you brush your teeth) on the handle of your toothbrush. When you are brushing your teeth in the evening or the morning and you notice those rubber bands, if you haven’t already made your report, do not let yourself brush your teeth until you have made your report!

Content of your report


The content of the report sounds something like this (whether by voice mail, voice to voice, text, or e-mail):


“Hi, Pat. This is Jamie. Please celebrate with me that I fulfilled all four of my agreements for Monday.”


If you did not satisfy all your agreements, the report sounds something like this:


“Hi, Pat. This is Jamie. Please celebrate with me that I fulfilled three out of four of my agreements for Monday. The one I didn’t fulfill completely was my studying agreement. I only studied for 45 minutes of the 60 minutes I agreed to study each day. The consequence is a 15-second cold shower. I’ll be taking that in the morning and, when I report tomorrow, I’ll let you know that I satisfied my consequence.”


Keep in mind that your consequence must be satisfied within two days of your unfulfilled agreement, and report on the status of your consequence daily until it is satisfied.


Your report might sound like this:


“Hi, Pat. This is Jamie. Please celebrate with me that I fulfilled all four of my agreements for Tuesday. I also took a 15-second cold shower as a consequence for not fulfilling one of my agreements on Monday.”


Those are the three basic cornerstones of “Consider It Done.”

The final touches to make it a complete package


But there are some other points that are important in completing the full picture of the process.



The first point is called the “non-report consequence”


As with your other consequences, the purpose of the non-report consequence is to not incur the consequence; it’s to guarantee the action (of reporting). The non-report consequence results if you do not report as required by the noon deadline. The non-report consequence should be a dollar amount (like $15, for example) that is paid/mailed to your accountability partner within two business days of its incurrence. It should be set high enough so that you, as the action partner, will rarely, if ever, incur it.


The reason the non-report consequence is paid to your accountability partner is to help compensate/motivate her or him for the extra time and effort needed to call you back and make sure everything is okay and back on track.


The second point is called the “ultimate consequence"


The ultimate consequence is a consequence for not satisfying a regular consequence within the allotted two days. For example, if you should take a 15-second cold shower for an agreement you did not do on Monday, and you still haven’t taken the cold shower by the end of Wednesday, then you have incurred the ultimate consequence.


The ultimate consequence is set (in advance) at a fairly large dollar amount, (usually between $100 and $300), that is paid to a charity of your choice (or perhaps a "charity" you would hate to support), above and beyond what you would normally donate. The check is made out to the charity and mailed to your accountability partner who mails it to the charity.


Over a thousand people have participated with me as their accountability partner, and only four people, one time each, have ever incurred the ultimate consequence. Stay far away from this one!


The third point is declaring a vacation or a break


You have the option of declaring a vacation or a break from your agreements and/or your reporting.


After a regular daily report, you would say something like this: “I’m leaving on a week’s vacation tomorrow. I’m suspending my agreements and my reporting for the duration of the vacation. You can expect my next report a week from now for Monday, September 23.”


The fourth point is declaring an emergency or opportunity


When an unanticipated emergency situation or unanticipated opportunity situation arises, the report might sound like this:


“Hi, Pat. This is Jamie. Please celebrate with me that I fulfilled three out of four of my agreements for Tuesday. I did not keep my exercise agreement because I sprained my ankle yesterday. I am declaring an emergency on that.”


Another example:

“Hi, Pat. This is Jamie. Please celebrate with me that I fulfilled three out of four of my agreements for Tuesday. I did not keep my study agreement because of an opportunity that came up with a client who required that extra time and I could not reasonably do both.”


If, upon listening to a declared emergency or opportunity,

     the accountability partner feels that the action partner

     may be pulling the wool over h/is own eyes,

     then the accountability partner’s job

     is to contact the action partner immediately

     and have an honest conversation

     about whether or not the consequence is due.

     Otherwise the accountability partner does not call

         the action partner back

         and the declared emergency or opportunity

         is accepted as such and no consequence incurred.


The fifth point is the policy of making just a few basic promises.


You can sabotage your use of “Consider It Done”

     if you require it to handle too many details in your life.

Use “Consider It Done” to support those foundational agreements

     that affect the most important areas of your life.


Examples are:

     regular life reviewing and planning,

     regular exercise,

     eating well,

     good communication with others,

     reading great books,

     focusing on the essential items in your business,

     focusing on the essential items for leisure and renewal.


In addition, when you first start “Consider It Done,”

     begin with one, two, or three agreements.

     Once you’re accustomed to fulfilling them consistently,

         you can add more as you like.


The sixth point is to ask yourself the question:

     “Is there any significant possibility

     that I would lie to my accountability partner

     in my ‘Consider It Done’ reporting?”


If the answer is yes,

     then you need to modify the standard reporting procedure

     so that a customized (for you) truth affirmation

         is spoken before each report.

Here are two disparate examples of truth affirmations.


(1) “I swear upon my relationship with God

     that what I am about to say is completely true and accurate.”


(2) “I swear upon the souls of my niece and nephew

     and my relationship with them

     that what I am about to say is completely true and accurate.”


If the accountability partner does not hear

     the truth affirmation at the beginning of your report,

     then s/he will contact you immediately

     to hear the report again with the affirmation,

     and confirm that you mailed

     the non-report consequence to h/im.


The seventh point is the initiation of a special conversation

     by the action partner and/or by the accountability partner

     in the event that many consequences are incurred,

     especially for one agreement.


Within the context of the “Consider It Done” structure,

     if an action agreement is broken frequently

     and the consequence is thereby incurred often,

     it’s important to do a maintenance check.

This breakdown will occur only

     if one or more of the following conditions is present:

     The action agreement does not meet

         the criteria for a valid agreement.

     The consequence is not compelling enough.

     There are too many hidden and/or unacknowledged

         benefits for not keeping your agreement.

     You don’t have a real desire or commitment

         to the action and/or the result;

         it is only something you feel you should do.

     You are not in touch with the benefits

         that you will get from keeping this agreement.


Unless you can address the breakdown,

     I recommend canceling the action agreement in question.


The eighth and last point is ending an agreement

     or terminating “Consider It Done.”


Any agreement can be canceled or modified

     with one day’s advance notice to the accountability partner.


The entire process can be terminated

     only after a thorough and complete discussion

     with the accountability partner.


When I first designed this process for myself

     and I was ready to try it,

     I was very excited, but I was also scared!

     In the past, when I had made promises to myself,

     I always knew that I had a back door

     available to me for re-negotiation with myself.

With the “Consider It Done” process,

     I was closing and locking that back door.


For most people, as it was with me,

     it is a major choice of courage

     to try the “Consider It Done” process.


List at least three agreements that, if kept consistently,

     would make a big difference in your life.


Write out the differences you would see and feel in your life

     if you kept these agreements

     consistently over three months, six months, or a year.


Now, call someone appropriate, explain the process to h/im,

     and ask h/im to be your accountability partner.


Honor yourself for the courage to try “Consider It Done.”



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