Let’s be brutally honest:
You already know how to accomplish anything you want. Or if you don’t know exactly what to do, you certainly know how to find out.
If you want to lose weight, you know which foods are healthy and you know you have to work your arse off every day exercising. So eat nothing but healthy food and do a tonne of exercise every day. It’s that simple.
If you want to get rich, millionaires write books that tell you exactly how they did it. Some people have spent their lives studying rich people and written books that tell you step by step formulas that have worked consistently. Read them. Then do what it says.
If you want to learn a skill, find the people who are best at it, ask their advice, read their books, watch their videos, practice every day as many hours as you can until you have it.
If you want to find a partner, quit smoking, adopt a new habit… in the same amount of time it takes to watch Eastenders, you can find several proven experts who will tell you pretty much exactly how to go about it, or at the very least where to learn how to go about it.
Then when you know what to do or where to start, do it! Every day for as many hours as your body and mind can tolerate it, and don’t give up until you achieve it.
Accomplishing pretty much anything is that simple. You know it and I know it.
Now we’ve removed the “I don’t know what to do” excuse, we’re left with the only reason you haven’t already done it:
You don’t have the self-discipline.
It can be masked as all sorts of different excuses you tell yourself, but there are examples everywhere you look of people in much tougher situations than you who have accomplished what you want to do.
The only real excuse you have is that you’re unable to make yourself do what you need to do consistently.
We’ve all made promises to ourselves when we’re charged up with enthusiasm, and probably stuck to it for a few days or even longer. But as soon as you slip up once, it’s easier to slip again because you know inside that you’ve lost the battle.
Ok, I feel like we’re making progress (said one part of my brain to the other a couple of days ago).
We’ve admitted that knowing how to achieve our goal isn’t an issue. What’s stopping us getting there is our own self-discipline.
Now, an extreme solution that’s guaranteed to work:
If I put a gun to the head of the person you love most in life (your partner / your child) and promise to shoot them if you don’t do what you need to do every day to succeed in your goal, you will achieve it. No question.
That’s called Motivation – from the Latin meaning “the compulsion to get off your arse and do what needs to be done”
So the question is – how can we create this level of motivation without the gruesome scenario?
Well yesterday I signed up for something pretty close. It’s called StickK.com and here’s how it works:
Step 1 – Choose a commitment. It can be anything you want to achieve, whether it’s giving something up, improving something, adding something new to your life… and it can be a one-off (with a deadline) or an ongoing commitment.
If you’re like me you probably have one thing in particular in mind, mine is “Get up at 6am every day”. It’s something I’ve been trying to do consistently for way too long now, but the snooze button nearly always beats me. Pathetic!
Step 2 – Set the stakes. This is where Stickk is more effective than anything else I’ve tried before. First you select a recipient of your money (yes your hard-earned cash) if you don’t stick to your commitment.
The options are super smart: you can choose a charity you like or a person you like (which isn’t that much of an incentive), or (a much bigger incentive) a charity you hate or a person you hate. Ah-ha! I chose a charity I hate from their selection.
Then you set the amount at stake. This is putting the “gun to your head” entirely in your hands, so if you really want to succeed then the gun needs to be as scary as possible.
I chose $100 per day, which means if I miss even a single morning its going to cost me $700 for the week which I seriously can’t afford to lose.
Then enter your credit card details. No joke.
Step 3 – Get a referee. This is where you nominate a person you know who will honestly report whether or not you stuck to your commitment. Just enter their email address and they will receive an email explaining what you’re doing and they click a button to agree. You can then agree with them how you’ll prove you’re sticking to your commitment and once a week they will get an email from StickK asking them to give you the thumbs up or down.
I’d recommend choosing someone brutal who won’t let you get away with any excuses. I chose my wife.
If she reports that I stuck to the commitment, all good. If she reports that I didn’t, my cash is debited from my card right there and then. It’s a real transaction, you’ve signed an electronic contract so no crying to your card provider. It’s fully legit.
And this is no dodgy back-street business. As I write this article, there are just short of $25,000,000 on the line in StickK contracts. This is obviously working for a huge number of people.
Step 4 – Share with your friends for their support and banter.
This isn’t just some twisted idea, its based on long-established research about how we make decisions. The phenomenon is called Loss Aversion and in basic terms it means we’re all wired to prevent losing something above gaining something of equal value. In real numbers that means you will work harder to prevent losing £100 you have, than earning an extra £100.
In other words, it means that keeping something tangible that you already have is more motivating than getting / achieving something which is just in your head or would be “nice to have”.
Although StickK will let you out of a commitment contract if you can prove you have a genuine reason (like you’re very sick or dying), its pretty much impossible to get out of the contract. And if you’ve chosen your referee well they shouldn’t let you off the hook either.
Just as if some maniacal mentor really did have a gun to the head of your loved one, you have no choice but to achieve what really is important to you and improve your life. Son of a bitch!
If you’re like me and have something you want to accomplish but struggle with self-discipline, this really could be the answer. I’m 2 days in and going strong (which is nothing to be proud of yet) but I’ll report back at the end of my 8 weeks, which incidentally I’ve chosen as a duration because it should be more than enough repetition to embed a new habit.
If you create your own commitment contract (which is completely free by the way) then please share it with me at firstname.lastname@example.org