By: Laura Walton AFC®
Even when we identify something we’d like to change, it’s not often easy. After all, we’re likely replacing one habit with another. But, as with most challenges, there are tricks to succeeding.
First, of course, you have to commit to something – your goal. The commitment is your rational choice – save more, exercise more, read more, etc. But then your evil twin exerts himself – buy something, sleep in, watch TV. How do you stick to your commitment?
Two devices, incentives and accountability, increase our ability to ignore the evil twin.
Dean Karlan, an Economics professor at Yale University, Ian Ayres, a Law professor at Yale University and Jordan Goldberg, a student at Yale School of Management founded stickK, a website designed to provide these tools.
The “K” in stickK is the shorthand symbol for “contract” used in legal writing. In this case, it represents the commitment contract you enter on the website.
Then you actually wager money on whether you’ll reach your goal – your incentive. If you lose, your wager goes to the organization of your choice. It’s best to choose an organization you don’t support as an extra incentive. That way, if you fail you not only lose the bet but find yourself contributing to a group (or politician) you don’t believe in. One fellow chose to put his lost wager in an envelope to leave on the subway to a chance stranger. In any case, the founders say that the monetary incentive can triple your odds of success.
Accountability is added when you choose a “referee” to monitor your progress or add family members or friends to receive updates. This step can double your odds of success and sounds very similar to the role of a financial advisor.
The idea is to trick yourself into good behavior – sticking with your commitment – because you’ve got a bet on yourself and you’ve got others watching and rooting for you.
We’re all motivated in different ways. Whether it’s stickK.com or some variation of their concept, find the way to trick yourself into making the change you want.