Game On officially ends for me in two days. I've dropped about 6 pounds, increased my fitness level, gained lean muscle mass, and generally feel much better. I've been getting great sleep, added two good habits and broken a bad one.
Overall, despite the fact that it is highly unlikely my team will win, I count this little challenge highly successful.
Which brings me to today's topic: commitment.
By coincidence I recently listened to a podcast on the effectiveness of commitment devices. The concept is one you are surely familiar with, if not the name. Basically, a commitment device is a tactic used to ensure your commitment to a new goal. Popular commitments include weight loss, budgeting, fitness, and lifestyle improvement. The device could be a reward for meeting a goal or some sort of "punishment" for breaking the commitment. Weight Watchers is a very popular commitment device.
The podcast highlighted a man who made a list of processed foods he could not eat for thirty days. As his device, he wrote a $700 check to Oprah Winfrey (who he does not like but his wife does), wrote a letter explaining the reason for the check, and gave it to his best friend as an impartial judge. If his friend ever learned of him cheating, he was to immediately mail the check to Oprah.
Did it work? Kind of. He made a slight error once that his friend deemed acceptable and did not mail the check. But that one slight bothered him so much that he amended his letter, making Oprah the judge, and mailed the check. So far, she hasn't cashed it.
The point is, the effectiveness of a commitment device is highly variable, as you would guess, depending largely on the reward or penalty involved. That said, I can tell you that this challenge I have been involved with for the past month was absolutely effective, and all of my opponents have said the same thing. In fact, I plan on joining the challenge again in the spring when the weather warms up. My bonus goal next time will be to shave seconds from my mile.
Do you want to make a change? Do you really want to make a change? Consider backing your commitment with a reward and a penalty. Make sure the reward is worth working for, and the penalty is painful. After all, commitment without commitment is just interest.