Sometimes in order to succeed then you have to make it impossible to fail, or at least very unpleasant. I know that I often fail because my mind will find too many reasons not to try: “Don’t talk to that girl, you will make a fool of yourself”, “Don’t try that business idea, it will fail and you will end up poorer”, “Don’t work out, it is hard. Go do something on the computer it is a lot more fun”. How could you argue? Failure hurts your ego a bit, but other than that then it isn’t too unpleasant. There are always reasons to stay in your safe comfort zone. You might fail if you try, so it is better to not try. What if failure was not an option because it is far worse. If you really don’t want to do something, then you have to make the alternative even worse to do. One example of this would be approaching a stranger. You are out with a friend and you see a stranger. You are scared to death to approach them and start a conversation. The situation is unpleasant, so you write check for $100 dollars and give it to your friend. You tell your friend that if you do not start a conversation with that stranger right now then they can go cash that check and spend it.
Making the alternative more unpleasant
Once you wrote that check then you have successfully made it far worse to not talk to the stranger then to simply go talk to them. You might embarrass yourself, but that isn’t as bad as losing the $100 dollars. The $100 dollars wasn’t the only punishment that was set up either. Now you are accountable to not only yourself, but your friend also. You could wage a war in your head over whether you should talk to the stranger, but if you don’t do it then you only let yourself down. Now if you don’t do it then you let yourself down and your friend. You will embarrass yourself in front of your friend. You might be scared to talk to the stranger, but it is far worse to simply stand back and not do anything.
Ideas to use
1) The easiest idea is to use money. It is simple to write a check and give it to a third party, or to just give them the cash. You have to use enough cash that it will hurt you to lose the money. If $100 dollars isn’t much for you, then use a $1,000. If that isn’t a large sum, then continue going up until it hurts to think of losing that much. If it is an ongoing challenge such as working out three times a week, then make out a check for $100 dollars each week for however long you want to do it, like 20 weeks. If you miss a week then the friend cashes one check. If you miss another, then the friend cashes another. This will keep you going even if you don’t do it once, you still have to continue to do it.
I remember once hearing a story about a multi-millionaire that set up billboards with his face plastered on it around the city he lived in. On the billboard he said that if you saw him smoking then he would give you a million dollars. It seems to be a great way to stop smoking because then anyone he is around could have seen the billboards. If he offered the money to only one person then he might be tempted to lie to them or avoid them to keep the money, but if everyone knows then he is forced to stop if he doesn’t want to lose the money.
A few ways to use money:
- Talking to Strangers
- Working out
- Getting out of your comfort zone
- Being Productive
- Spending time with your kids
Make sure to give the money to someone that you trust and that you would hate to let down. If you give it to a friend that you know you could convince to give you the money back, then it doesn’t work.
2) You have to make it hard for yourself. If I wanted to stop eating some foods that are bad for me then I will simply not buy them. I can have them, but I have to go to the store, buy them, cook them, etc. It makes it hard for me to actually have those foods so I am banking on my laziness to convince me to eat the healthier options that are easily accessible. The same would work for things you want to avoid. Do you want to watch less TV? Just break it. You won’t be able to watch it until you fix it. If breaking it seems a bit too permanent then just get someone to lock the TV so that it needs a pass code. Have the person hide the pass code. Now you have to go searching for the pass code in order to watch TV. It might be worth it for some shows, but the majority of shows you will simply pass up the opportunity. The same thing goes for the internet. Make it hard to access the internet and you won’t use it as much.
A few things you could make it hard to fail at:
- Stop watching TV
- Use the Internet less
- Spending Money
- Working on a project
- Spending time with friends
3) Accountability is also great. Just announce, loudly, that you are trying to do something. Don’t just tell your friends, but tell your co-workers, all your friends, family, and even strangers! The embarrassment if you fail has to be great in order to get yourself motivated to do it. I went on my trip to Asia this summer and I was too lazy to print off the pictures. It has been two months since I have gotten back and I still haven’t shown the pictures to my co-workers, but they still ask me for them. If they didn’t ask about them then I would never actually do it because I wouldn’t have the pressure to do it. They force me to do it. Have everyone encourage you also. I know I hate it when people are counting on me, because I would feel horrible if I let them down. Tell people that you respect and wouldn’t want to let down.
Joining a group is also good for accountability, because the group will encourage you and hold you to do something. Join Toastmasters if you want to public speak, because then you are forced to do it. Join a Mastermind group that deals with something you want to do, e.g. a group of entrepreneurs that will get you to become an entrepreneur.
A few ways to use accountability:
- Starting a business
- Reading more
- Writing more
- Following through with a course
- Achieving a goal
Make sure to be specific when you use money or accountability, because the person that holds the money for you or makes you accountable will have to determine if you have done your end of the deal or not. Instead of simply saying that you want to be in shape then you want to exercise three times a week to make it specific. If you tell someone that you will clean their whole house if you don’t write more then you must define how much you will write and how often. It is best to use accountability when you want to produce something, such as writing or starting a business. This way you cannot lie to the person that you did your part. You have evidence so that you cannot lie to them.
Think of something that you hate and make that the alternative, because in order to succeed then you have to make it impossible to fail.
Photo by MShades