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Summary:

We’ve looked at numerous ways to track your to-do list in the past. But as most of us know, some things tend to get stuck on these lists: for one reason or another, we have big goals that get pushed, time after time, to the end […]

ScreenshotWe’ve looked at numerous ways to track your to-do list in the past. But as most of us know, some things tend to get stuck on these lists: for one reason or another, we have big goals that get pushed, time after time, to the end of the list, and gradually die of being ignored.

New online service Stickk thinks it has an answer to this issue. Their strategy is summed up by the tagline on the site: “put a contract out on yourself!” The basic idea (put together by some Yale academics) is simple: Stickk helps you add financial incentives to help yourself fulfill long-range goals.

Here’s how it works: after signing up for an account at Stickky, you can create a commitment contract. This consists of picking a goal, and then setting up the stakes and a referee who will track your progress. Stakes? Yes, that’s the centerpiece of this plan. For example, if you set a 20-week weight-loss goal, you can stake $20 of your own money each week, for a total of $400, and specify that it will go to a friend, or a random charity, or an “anti-charity” (for example, a pro-gun group if you’re for gun control). If, according to your referee, you fail to meet the goal, off goes your money. When you sign the contract, your credit card gets billed for the full amount ($400 in this case); at the end of the contract, you get back any money that you didn’t lose for failing to meet interim goals.

The goals that Stickk suggests are real-life things such as losing weight, stopping smoking, exercising regularly, or waking up at a decent hour on weekends. But there’s no reason you couldn’t use this system for professional development as well. Been dragging your feet at really learning how to use Photoshop well? Need to deliver a 20-page web site to an annoying client in the next 4 weeks? Anything with easy to measure interim goals would lend itself to the Stickk system – if you’re willing to push yourself with your own financial incentive.

  1. Interesting concept. This may actually work. Now if they can only get people to part with their hard earned cash.

    -Jeff
    http://blog.zemote.com

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  2. I agree, interesting concept – also because you pay up front I’m assuming they intend making their profit and recovering costs through investing that money rather than users paying a (substantial) fee or through excessive advertising.

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  3. Well, there’s always the carrot as well. Plus with big projects, breaking them into managable chunks can make a big difference. Combine the two and you have a recipe for success:

    Using the 20 page website example, after finishing each page, reward yourself with something small you wouldn’t ordinarily do. Maybe a trip to the local bakery for your favorite treat.

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  4. This is a great money making opportunity for the “Yale academics” or those who have designed this beta program.

    I agree with Nathaniel B. that the underlying business plan seems to be that funding Stikk will be acquired through interest or other profits accrued from being able to access large amounts of users money while they are completing the project they contracted.

    If this goes over well, the amount of money available to this group could be amazing!

    Rather like a behavior modification banking system….

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  5. This is one of the most foolish ideas I’d heard!

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  6. Why not give the $400 to your flat mate or partner, who is on hand to check progress with your goal and not drag in a third party like Stickk in to the contract, who make a few bucks on the side to you achieving your goal.

    To me it is weight watchers or jenny craig on line a pointless idea

    Save your money and time
    Peter j

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