Make habits with commitment contracts

“In one study conducted in the Philippines, smokers committed to quit smoking for six months. If they failed a urine test that detected nicotine, they’d lose six months-worth of smoking money as a penalty. At the end of the program, the economists found that the contracts improved the chances of quitting by 30%, which is better than the improvement other tools like a nicotine patch gives you.” — Jason Fitzpatrick

A commitment contract is an agreement with yourself to stick to a habit, or reach a goal, under threat of financial penalty. A sponsor judges your adherence to the contract, and, if necessary, collects the penalty. For example, you could commit to getting out of bed every morning by 6AM. If you decide to sleep in, you must pay your sponsor $25.

Procrastination occurs when one discounts long-term pain until short-term pleasure offers greater value. The solution to procrastination, therefore, is to align short-term pain with long-term pain. An immediate financial loss every time you break a habit provides such alignment.

Maxims is being written with a commitment contract.