Handbook for Making Today Count

FOCUS: For many people life has become very stressful. Often there is a feeling of “aloneness.” Where to turn, and who to trust have become serious issues today. Making Today Count is a coaching process that builds on a sense of self-determination while recognizing the need to be a part of a larger community. It is intended that each person using Making Today Count is developing both a sense of self-direction and self-sufficiency. If for whatever reason a person cannot do this then each person is to be encouraged to move toward a supportive community to help nurture a healthy life style. If you are someone helping another person through a life-changing event, then Making Today Count is a tool to be used to help focus on a strategy toward a nurturing process. The contracting and subsequent bonus represents an equal player philosophy that ultimately allows people to learn from each other.

Contact: Carl DeLine

Making Today Count

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: This handbook is developed for those who want to implement the use of contracts and bonuses into their programs/agencies/communities.

PUBLIC DOMAIN NOTICE:All material appearing in this handbook is placed in the public domain, unless otherwise noted. It may be reproduced or copied without permission from Carl DeLine. Acknowledgement of the source would be appreciated. However, this publication may not be reproduced or distributed for a fee without the specific, written authorization of Carl DeLine.


INTRODUCTION: As a young person growing up we moved many times. My mother and father had been divorced and we lived on the welfare system. I left home when I was 14. I moved in with some friends. The intention was that I would be in their home specifically before school and after school in a supportive role to watch their children. Somewhere along the line this changed. I finally moved away at age 19. I had thought about going into the military but all the recruiters told me that since my draft number, which was 333, was so high I should go to school. Thus began a long pilgrimage of getting a college degree and then going on for more school.

In high school my school counselor told me that I should not go to school but should maybe drive truck or get some kind of a trade. My grades were nothing to get excited about and so he concluded that college or university was not to be. When I was finishing college my advisor told me that I should not think about going on to seminary. My grades in my first two years of college were nothing to write home about. In my last two years of college my grades got stronger.

All during the college years I had been working in a number of different settings including serving churches as an interim pastor. Once I finished my seminary I went full-time into the church. That did not last long and I found myself developing programs in the community. Now after almost 50 years of working I submit Making Today Count as a tool to be used to sort out the discovery process for personal direction. It is a conversion of the contracting bonus process to be used with people on an everyday basis. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me for further thoughts.

What is a contract?
What is a bonus?
How a contract is used.
How a bonus is used.
How this process is evolving.
A The request for Training

WHAT IS A CONTRACT? In Making Today Count one person meets with another person and designs a step toward reaching an ultimate goal or chosen direction. The use of the contract introduces an obligation (the desired task, goal or outcome) to oneself while being witnessed by a second party. Originally this implied the desire by a person to get off the street. Over the years it has evolved from getting off the street to getting out of crisis and now toward making specific changes in a person’s direction of life.

The length of this contracting process is flexible. Initially people used the contract process for a period of 24 months. Each month was broken down into eight contracts. Each contract actually became a series of steps toward reaching an ultimate goal. Each step listed what was necessary to do to move toward reaching the desired goal.

A bi-product of the contracting process was a powerful tool that encouraged communication. The contract allowed for two people to clarify what words and goals meant from different life situations.

This is not a case management model for one person to create directives for someone else. It is a dialogical model emphasizing the creation of an alternative direction based on joint understandings. The contract becomes a written statement of an intentional direction to be taken. Once the contract is identified a bonus is then added.

WHAT IS A BONUS? Making Today Count ads a bonus process. After creating a contract this contract is then put into perspective. Each person is asked to look at life from a broader perspective. Initially when working with street youth, or those facing difficult levels of poverty, for each contract created $15 was given. It was to be understood that the $15 was not a reward for carrying out the contract. The result of the contract should be a rewarding process in and of itself based on the desired result. The $15 was a reward for creating the contract. The $15 also addressed a very real issue caused by being poor. It was instant. Because of this the bonus became a nurturing process. As time went on each participant saw the whole process as rewarding. The whole process created the desire to continually make positive changes in their own life.

By participating in Making Today Count the reward moves away from a cash bonus to using an investment concept. Each person is asked to invest in one’s own life by doing a specific action that will bring fulfillment, i.e.:

I will do something for myself, I will invest in myself OR
I will do something for and with someone else, I will invest in relationships OR
I will give an anonymous gift, money, work, help etc. to invest in society OR
I will do a community volunteer act to invest in my supportive community OR
I will make a donation to charity of my choice.

HOW IS A CONTRACT USED? When a person is in transition it is easy to get lost in the agendas all around them. It is also easy to say “I’m okay, everything will work out.” The contract and bonus process was created to augment a broken safety net, both societies social safety net as well as each person’s personal safety net. It was not created to replace existing safety net structures. The contract and bonus process was created to add an understanding of accountability as a person participates in the overall social contract of society.

How the contract works is illustrated as follows

1. An individual says, “I want to make a change,” “I want my life to go a different direction.”
2. The thought process continues with the potential participant seeking a contracting partner who will use this opportunity to clarify what it is the participant wants to do.
3. Together the new participant and partner go to the Making Today Count contract page.
4. The participant then goes through the contract process filling in the blanks on this site as they go.
5. The participant then chooses how they will be bonused for creating this contract.
6. Upon starting a new contract the participant discusses the success or failure of the said contract step, and begins to create yet another contract.

HOW THE BONUS IS USED: The amount of each bonus has differed in different settings. In the original setting each person qualified for up to eight bonuses in a month and up to one hundred bonuses in a 12 month period of time. Cash was chosen as the bonus because people need money to survive. The bonus was the same form of currency used in society at large. It simply costs money to live. As the process moved into other venues the idea of investing time and energy in oneself was added.

HOW THE PROCESS IS EVOLVING: Since the inception of the contract and bonus process in 1987/88 many others have been using and continue to experiment with the use of incentives as a way to invest in people. The purpose of this handbook will be to invite you to consider how contracting and bonuses may benefit your community.

If you want to know more about being trained please submit THE REQUEST FOR TRAINING.