Do or Die (Literally): The Surefire Way to Achieve Your Goals
During a drive the other day, I listened to “Quitters, Inc.” by Stephen King.
It’s the tale of a married man named Dick Morrison. An old college roommate runs into Dick and refers him to a company called, “Quitters, Inc.” With their help, his roommate successfully quit smoking and got a big promotion at work. However, he’s unable to reveal exactly how they turned his life around.
Dick eventually decides to go for a consultation. He meets with his case officer Victor Donatti and signs a nondisclosure agreement.
Victor tells him that Quitters, Inc. has a spectacular 98% success rate. They’re so confident about your success that you don’t have to pay anything until a year after you see results.
So how do they do it?
They use “aversion therapy” to hold you extremely accountable.
Quitters Inc. will electroshock you, cut off your wife’s fingers, and beat your child if you smoke. And they’ll kill you if you repeatedly break their cold-turkey rules.
When listening, I couldn’t help but think, “This is a really twisted idea. But damn, it would definitely work.”
Of course, being a pragmatist myself, I tried to figure out how I could use this idea to help others…without having to chop off fingers, of course.
So I want you to envision a major goal you have. Let’s use getting in shape or meeting women. Remember these 2 points:
Start small and focus on the effort, not the results. Break down that major goal into immediate, manageable steps. Think, “Go to the gym after work.” instead of “Lose 20 pounds.” or “Greet a woman in passing.” vs. “Get three phone numbers today.”
You can only control your actions, not what happens because of them. Small, consistent steps add up and lead to vast improvements. Be patient and don’t get down on yourself if you’re not where you want to be yet. Praise yourself for taking action and you’ll stay driven. Remember though…
If you consistently hit goals but don’t see improvements, change your approach. While putting in effort is better than nothing, you still have to challenge your comfort zone and make smart choices. You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results (Thanks Narcotics Anonymous, not Einstein.)
Walking leisurely at the gym for 15 minutes every other day won’t get you the ripped body you desire. You need to slowly but surely increase the intensity or try something new, like compound lifting. The idea is to find your flow — the perfect balance where you’re being challenged and growing while not being overwhelmed.
Half my job as a coach is being there to ensure my clients are working towards their goals. Since I’m not with you now, let’s talk about how you can point the figurative gun to your head and hold yourself extremely accountable.
Raise the stakes and make it hurt
We’re much more likely to commit to something when there are consequences involved. That could be a sense of loss or judgement. But I don’t want you to take it personal or beat yourself up. I want it to be something external.
Have someone punish you (lightly). Didn’t put in the effort this week? Your friend gets your PS4 for a week. Maybe you have to volunteer with your buddy this weekend and miss the football game. Or maybe your sister posts an embarrassing picture of you to your Facebook wall for the world to see.
Whatever the punishment is, it’s best to have someone else reinforce it. Otherwise, it’s easy to talk yourself out of it. You can even sign a contract with them to up the ante.
Try stickK. It’s a site created by Tim Ferris that uses public “commitment contracts” to help you stay on track with your goals. You usually wager money upfront with your credit card which goes donated to various charities if you don’t hit your goal.
Put your money where your mouth is. Similar to stickK, give a certain amount of money to someone you trust. It has to be enough that you’d be upset if you lost it. If you fail to achieve the goal you agree upon, they keep your money.
For example, give your brother $150. Every time you go to the gym this week, he gives you $50 back. Maybe you get $50 back for every 250 words you write towards your research paper. Or on a night out, your buddy gives you $50 back for every girl you introduce yourself to.
Think about those you care about — the right way
Some people have a hard time getting motivated for themselves. Instead, really evaluate how achieving your goals influences others close to you. How will it improve their lives? How will it strengthen your relationship with them? Write down those reasons as fuel for the fire.
This can be dangerous, so tread lightly. I don’t want you shaming yourself for not being a good friend, lover, or provider. I also don’t want you doing this for that person’s approval or in hopes that they’ll like you more.
You must do it because you care for their well-being. You simply want the best for them.
My parents each smoked 2-3 packs a day for over 40 years. They tried everything to quit including the patch and Chantix. Two years ago I sat both of them down and poured my heart out, “Please stop, I need you guys to be healthy. I need you now and in the future when I start my own family.” It hit them so hard that they quit the same day and haven’t smoked since.
Please remember that as long as you’re trying — that’s what matters, not the final outcome. Be grateful that you’re working to support the people you love.
Remind yourself excessively
Stick 20 post-it notes with your written goal on your computer, fridge, doors, and every room in your house. Set the goal as your phone and laptop wallpapers.
Create 5 reminders to go off every day in your phone. Record yourself stating your goal and set it as your morning phone alarm. Sharpie it on your hand.
Flood your world with that goal. Have it constantly in your face and impossible to run from. The only way to make it stop is to begin working towards your goal.
Be a big talker and tell everyone you know
Tell your friends, family, and even co-workers about your goals. Post it on your social media profiles while you’re at it, too.
Everyone knows that annoying person who makes huge claims about what they’re going to accomplish. Be that guy. While I don’t want you to look foolish, I want to motivate you.
If you hit those goals, you have nothing to worry about. The people you told will be impressed and even inspired. If you don’t hit them, you will continually deliver false promises. And everyone will know.
How’s that for incentive?
All these techniques serve one purpose…to start you on the path toward achieving your goals. They get you initial experience to inspire self-motivation, but they’re not permanent solutions.
Eventually, you need to hold yourself accountable through sheer willpower. You have to want your goals bad enough to say, “I’m scared I’ll fail. I’m nervous to try. But I won’t stop until I get what I want.”