Make a promise (Exercise #21)

July 15, 2006

One of the best ways to change habitual behavior is to commit to it.  This is obvious to us, and is often why we don’t commit to changing behaviors.  If you’re a smoker and you want to quit, make a list of the 10 people in your life that you are most concerned with keeping a high reputation with, and give each one of them a written statement that says, “I promise you that I will never smoke another cigarette.”  Simply thinking about that will let you know just how powerful the force of public commitment is… more powerful than internal commitment, more powerful than the patch, and more powerful than any plan to slowly wean yourself off cigarettes.

If smoking isn’t the main thing you’d like to change, choose something else.  Make a promise about an absolute thing like never doing something again or completing something by an exact date.  Immediate and drastic change that you can’t wimp out on.  Write them down on note cards or blank business cards and hand them out to 10 (or more) people that you desperately want to respect you.  No need to even include an “or else”… that way there’s no way out.

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