How To Use a Commitment Device to Conquer Your Goals

We all want to be smarter, richer, thinner, and better in every way. It’s certainly possible. The only thing stopping us is the seemingly insurmountable act of actually doing the work.

Why Use A Commitment Device?

It’s normal to avoid work, especially hard work. So don’t beat yourself up about it. But the fact remains that without the work, you won’t get the rewards. The problem is when you get those rewards.

Most good habits like exercise, saving for retirement, and studying daily don’t have immediate rewards but do take a lot of effort. So you become impatient and quit early, way before you see any results. Or you get irrational and think that it’s not doing you any good.

It’s during these times that you need a commitment device.

What is a Commitment Device?

A commitment device is a way of adding a short-term, real and immediate cost to wavering from your goal. When you break your commitment, the device kicks in. It will either prevent you from straying from your goal, or it makes you pay the painful cost of failure.

Some common examples of commitment devices are:

  • Apps that block you from the internet during work hours
  • Uninstalling the Facebook app to make using it harder
  • Announcing your goals to all your friends to force yourself to follow through
  • Cutting up your credit cards to avoid overspending
  • Paying for an annual membership at a gym to force yourself to exercise.

Rules of Commitment Devices

To create an effective commitment device, you need to be able to stick to it. It does nobody any good if you can weasel your way out of your commitment.

  1. The cost should be significant. If your reputation is important, create a social contract with friends. If you hate losing money, make a promise to pay if you fail.
  2. The cost should only affect you. It shouldn’t impact anybody else, either positively or negatively. You don’t want your commitment device to become an incentive to fail. Don’t make donating to your favorite charity into a commitment device.
  3. The device works best if someone else knows about it. Whether it’s a trusted mentor, a group of friends or even a simple app, having a third-party around will keep you accountable.

If you’re having trouble sticking to your goals, maybe it’s time to hold yourself to it by creating a commitment device. Tell us what commitment devices you’ve used to reach your goals.

Commitment devices are great for personal goals. But how about team goals? Here’s how a few leaders handle their long-term goals.