How to keep those big, difficult commitments

Years ago when I stopped smoking I used a technique psychologists call precommitment. I knew that the little voice in my head could easily talk me into just having one. And down the slippery slope I would slide. I made a deal with a friend who wanted to quit as well. We each wrote out checks for hundreds of dollars to the re-election committee of our biggest political nightmare. (We both picked Jesse Helms.) We switched envelopes, stamped, addressed, and ready to go. Then once a week we met, looked each other face-to-face and said whether or not we had kept our promise. If one of us caught the slightest flicker of lie in the other’s eyes, they would mail the envelope. There were times when I would have paid that much money for a cigarette, but knowing it would go to help re-elect Helms kept me on the straight and narrow.

The idea is to make it nearly impossible to crap out on your promise. Odysseus ordered himself lashed to the mast and had his seamen fill their ears with wax so he could listen to the deadly, seductive songs of the Sirens.

What is that huge challenge you want to face that you think your mind will con you out of fulfilling? What is that behavior or habit you want to change?

Find a cost you are not willing to pay and someone to play this powerful game with you.

1 Response to “How to keep those big, difficult commitments”

  1. Robbi January 19, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Hi Nicholas. I’ve just finished reading your book and found it really inspirational. I have sent an email to your info email but have not had a responce. Please could you or someone in your team respond, I would really appreciate it.

    Kind regards

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