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 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.