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Lose Weight, Quit Smoking and Get Fit Through Donations

Research conducted at Yale University has proven the effectiveness of financial incentives on motivation and goal achievement. With the addition of financial incentives, the probability of achieving one’s goal increases threefold. The concept is simple: make a commitment to donate a set amount of money each time you fail to comply with your resolution. The higher the amount, the better the motivation.

Here are some examples:

Smoking: Every day I smoke more than X cigarettes I have to donate 20 EUR for each additional cigarette. Gym: Every week I did not go to the gym / running at least once, I donate 100 EUR. Weight Loss: Every time I eat a chocolate bar/sweets/dessert, I donate 20 EUR. Alcohol: Every day I drink more than X glasses of wine/beer/etc, I donate 20 EUR for each additional glass. Meditation: Every day I do not meditate I donate 20 EUR.

Appoint an Independent Arbitrator: According to the results of the Yale study, the likelihood of achieving your goal can be further doubled by appointing a family member or friend as an independent arbitrator who keeps an eye on your compliance. It’s important too to specify exactly how many weeks you intend to commit to this. Example Formulation: “Every Sunday evening, I have to tell my friend X if I have met my goal. If not, I have to send them confirmation of an online donation via email. I am committing to this for the next Y weeks.”

Alternatively, you can also directly engage all your friends as witnesses and publish your resolution along with a commitment to a weekly report on your Facebook account.

The functional mechanism is quite simple and its effectiveness is scientifically proven: The next time you eat a chocolate bar,  you increase the price tag of the behaviour which you are trying to curb. Would you really eat that chocolate bar if it costs 20 EUR? What change would you like to make in your life? Are you ready to make it happen? Do you really want to succeed? Then set a financial incentive and appoint an arbitrator right away. Try it! You have nothing to lose, except maybe a donation to one of the most effective aid organizations.

Just send an e-mail to a friend or family member based on the following example:

Hi, I’m serious about getting back into shape. Research has shown that by creating a financial incentive and appointing an arbitrator to whom you have to report your progress, you can greatly increase the probability of sticking to a resolution. So I’m appointing you. I commit to going to the gym or for a run at least 3 times every week for the next 12 weeks. Every week that I do not reach my goal I will donate 50 EUR to one of the aid organizations recommended by Every Sunday, by 11:00 p.m. at the latest, I will send you confirmation that I have met my goal that week or, to the contrary, a copy of the receipt for donation of the corresponding amount. All you have to do is to take my word for it, if you do not get a donation report from me any week within the next 12 weeks.