Protocol. It's a word that is used in BDSM groups online and off with a sort of secrecy and awe. It's relegated to those in 24/7 type relationships and rarely discussed as what it really is. Protocol is a defined set of rules and behaviors for special situations. That's it. You don't have to be in any certain type of relationship, or a relationship at all to have protocol in your life. The military is full of protocol, much of what you've picked up as far as how to act at church, respecting the flag, around the elderly, and so many other facets is a part of socially acceptable protocol in those situations.
You can also have a personal protocol. A personal protocol helps to organize your life and help you reach your goals. It's built with a checks and balances system so that you stay on track. I would like to encourage you to consider developing some personal protocols of your own.
You don't have to be in a relationship to have protocol. In fact, a single submissive can help prepare themselves for service to a Dominant by establishing some protocol to their life. In relationships, additional personal protocols can help enhance your enjoyment of the services you provide. It's a win - win situation.
Deciding on a Task
When deciding on what you want to improve in your life you have to start with a brainstorm. Sit down and write out everything you ever wished you could do, learn, explore, understand, travel, improve, quit doing, etc. List it all no matter how difficult it seems.
Once you have a list, start ranking each item 1 to 5. Items with a 5 next to them are the most important, or the most desirable right now. Then step down the list to the 1's which are things that would be nice, but not super important to who you are or who you are becoming.
Now that you have the tasks narrowed down it's time to pick one of them. If you are in a relationship I recommend bringing this list and your plans to your Dominant and discussing which one will be best for both of you. Select on any way you want; draw it out of a hat... it doesn't matter as long as you only do one at a time.
Making the Plan
Congratulations! You now have the task in front of you that you want to accomplish. Your next step may take the longest before you can actually begin. It involves research.
Let's say, for example, that you want to manage your money better. Perhaps you hope to start a savings fund for something special. You will want to read about and research good budgeting techniques and methods. You might start reading some money blogs and learning personal finance. Check into local colleges that might offer classes in personal finance. I've seen some banks also offer workshops.
We need to enter the planning phase with some understanding about the task at hand so that we are ready to do it. Once we have the tools and knowledge the next step is to plot it out into smaller steps.
For the budgeting example, perhaps you first start documenting all of your purchases for a month. Then you draw up a proper budget. Plan on an expendable amount each month and stick to it. Start placing a percentage of your income into a savings account. Schedule and pay bills on time. This is just the start of ideas.
Always break your task into smaller bits so that you can see progress faster and it will keep you going.
Developing a Reward System
Now that you have your steps in place, you can begin to build a reward system. This does include a punishment side to it. You have to be personally accountable to get this done. Try to choose rewards that are not counter productive to your goals. If your goal is to lose 2 inches in your waist, then rewarding yourself with ice cream might not be the best option. Make the positive rewards worth reaching for, but the punishments worthy of your slip. Don't over punish yourself. A common one I've read about is removing TV time, or computer time for a week. It will not only remind you of your slip, but help refocus you too.
Why do you think a punishment/reward system works for personal accountability? Well, honestly if you aren't committed to enforcing it then you won't succeed with it. You can say you are going to not watch TV for 3 days if you fail to do one of the steps for your accountability checks, but if you then go ahead and watch TV anyway because your favorite reality TV show is on then you won't do as well, will you?
Progress and Success
If you keep yourself accountable you will make progress with the changes you want to make. You should feel better about yourself and whatever you've changed or added should begin to show itself in your everyday. I'm so proud of all of you who have chosen to make changes in your life and your service. The best thing we can do for ourselves is continue to learn and grow as people.
Celebrate your success, no matter how small. These are the things that really make you feel good. There's no turning back once you have completed all of the mini-steps to your goal.
If you need more help or want some support for developing your personal protocol, head on over to the community side of the site and join the discussions going on there. Get the support and confidence you need to make these positive changes in your life.