How I Tricked My Brain Into Making Progress Toward My Goal

How I Tricked My Brain Into Making Progress Toward My Goal

Goals. You have them, but if you’re like most people, you often find it incredibly difficult to achieve them.

Every New Year’s, you see a slew of articles on how to make your resolutions a reality in the year ahead. Yet by February, many well-intentioned resolutions are metaphorically gathering dust on a shelf.

You know what? Maybe the momentum from New Year’s resolutions is overrated. Maybe you can make steady progress toward your goal any time of year — if, that is, you have the right setup.

Have you heard of StickK?

This website may hold the key for helping you to make steady, sustained progress toward your goals…even on the days that you’d rather sit on the couch and binge on Netflix.

Especially on those days.

Read on to find out how it works — and the results of my own week-long experiment.

How StickK works

StickK is simple to use.

(By the way, the second “K” is the shorthand symbol for “contract,” since that’s basically what you’re entering into.)

You register for the platform and create a profile by filling out some basic information. Then you create a commitment contract. It can be ongoing or a one-shot deal.

The next step is where things get interesting.

StickK wants you to put your money where your mouth is. In other words, you need to ante up. You choose the amount.

What happens to your money if you don’t meet your goal?

Well, it’s up to you. But the most motivating option is also the most terrifying one: Your money goes to an organization that you can’t stand.

An organization that you oppose with every fiber of your being.

One that goes against your most deeply held values on a controversial, hot-button topic.

If you don’t reach your goal, the amount of money you pledged will go to the “anti-charity” you chose.

So…no pressure!

It may seem crazy, but it’s a proven method.

My StickK experiment

I had to see if StickK would work for me — and I knew immediately which goal I would focus on.

I’m currently studying for a big professional certification in a technical field.

It requires me to read multiple long, dense, dry textbooks and then pass two challenging exams. I’ve managed to spend some time studying for it so far. But I’ve lacked the discipline to maintain a rigid schedule and I wasn’t coming even close to daily studying.

My goal: spend 30 minutes a day studying for each of the next 7 days.

I was ready to see if designating $10 of my hard-earned dollars to an organization I don’t support would be enough to do the trick. Would I buckle down and crack my books every single day?

Full disclosure: I couldn’t bring myself to choose a specific anti-charity, so I selected the option that lets Stickk chose for me from its entire list of organizations (made up of groups I support and their polar opposites) if I failed at the end of the week.

Technically, this gave me a 50% chance that my failure would lead to my money going to a group I was politically aligned with.

But, it turns out, just the fear of that other 50% chance kept me motivated.

StickK didn’t suddenly make me feel more like studying. However — despite that, I found myself waking up early on days I knew would be jam-packed… and staying up late on days that turned out to be surprisingly busy.

It was like my brain had received its orders, even on the days that I felt grumpy or overwhelmed: Have to clock my 30 minutes!

In the end, I did reach my daily studying goal, and StickK showed me what’s possible when you tap into something more powerful than how “motivated” you feel on a given day.

How to get the most out of StickK

To my surprise, I learned a lot about goal-setting in the process. Based on my experience, here are some tips to help make Stickk work for you:

Pick a goal that makes sense for you

As it turns out, I hate studying for short periods of time each day. The material also wasn’t really conducive to short bursts of productivity. In hindsight, it would have been smarter for me to work towards studying for two- or three-hour blocks twice during the week.

Bring in reinforcements

I didn’t sign up for a buddy to track my progress on the site, which is an option during the process. But I did share my goal offline with my partner, who helped me stay motivated when the last thing I wanted to do was pull out my books late at night and study.

Commit to enough time to see results

The site lets you select a timeframe for your goal. My experiment ran for a single week, but you can choose a multi-week option and put up cash for multiple weeks from the get-go. The fear of losing extra money to an anti-charity can keep you going for longer — take advantage of that with a longer duration.

The verdict: If you’re tired of seeing your commitment waver when your motivation dips, give StickK a try. You might surprise yourself with what you can accomplish!