Monday, October 17, 2011

Would You stickK To It?

Post by Jenny

Writers tend to be goal-oriented people, whether that goal is to put the first sentence down on paper or complete seven books in a series. But because the writing process can be a lengthy one, some of us may, on occasion, stray from our goals just the tiniest bit. When that happens, friends, family, and critique groups can help keep us on task--if we're honest with them about how much time we spend writing and how much time we spend playing Angry Birds.

Recently, I ran across stickK, the on-line program which bills itself as “the smartest way to set and achieve your goals.” This is done by creating "Commitment Contracts based on two well known principles of behavioral economics:

1.People don't always do what they claim they want to do, and

2.Incentives get people to do things.” (I'm assuming these principles have been simplified for the non-economists among us.)

Here’s a summary of the plan's four steps:

1. Set a goal – Most of us have already done this once or fourhundredthirtyseven times.

2. Set the stakes – This is where things get interesting. The goal maker has the option to put real money on the line. If the goal is not met, “stickK will send your hard-earned cash to one of three options—friend, charity, or Anti-Charity, which is an organization you hate!” Ooh, a diabolical twist.

3. Get a referee – someone you know and trust who keeps tabs on your progress

4. Add friends for support – your chosen stickK community, which provides encouragement and “peer pressure”

stickK is the brainchild of smart people at Yale University who saw the need for a motivational AAA of sorts along the long and sometimes lonely road between goal and accomplishment. Judging by their website, they were right. The homepage goal scroll lists individual member goals including “open a yarn store,” “lose weight,” “only one cup of coffee a day,” and “climb Mt. Everest.” I am not a member, but any of the following goals could be mine: “write 1000 words a day,” “write for at least one hour each day,” and “publish.”

So, what do you think, writers? If you have trouble meeting your goals and don’t already have a reliable someone keeping you honest, is stickK a service you’d consider using? Would the thought of your money going to your most reviled “anti-charity” motivate you to sit your butt down and write?

6 comments:

John Paul McKinney said...

Similar to a "specific behavior change" course I took some time ago at U. Wash. We each had a behavior we needed to change...fear of elevators, overdrinking, weight loss, etc. Mine was finishing a text book (adolescent psych). It works! I finished by term's end. Think I'll try it again. Thanks for reminding me.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Only one cup of coffee a day? What kind of writer would set a goal like that?

I'm finally getting a little better at setting and achieving my goals. Signing up for NaNoWriMo is intended to instill a little discipline into my schedule so I develop the habit of writing (almost) daily. We'll see what happens.

Jenny said...

John Paul, I suppose we could all use some of that "specific behavior change!"

Pat, it's great that you're gearing up for NaNo. You're braver than I am!

Dean K Miller said...

A clever idea which will help many reach their goals. Probably the best part is that not-reaching the goal is met with a donation to a cause, beloved or not. That's better than beating yourself over the head with a stick.

One potential downside of goals can be very harsh judgements we make of ourselves when we don't reach them, or even feel we are not working hard enough along the way.

I wouldn't use stickK, but sounds like a great motivational tool for those desiring it.

I'm simple by nature, so I look to wake up with a smile, and then end the day the same way. Other than that, the rest is just details.

Jenny said...

Good point, Dean. And I am the kind of person who would beat myself over the head with the stick...which is still in my backyard, by the way :-)

Kay Theodoratus said...

Think I'll growl from my corner.

Granted we all need encouragement to set goals and accomplish them. But, all the nice little plans make me think of Pharma trying to tell us we can achieve good health [and our dreams] by taking a pill.

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