The Power of the Right Public Promise

You might have heard this before

If you make a public promise about your goals, you increase the odds of achieving them.

You might have tried that too.

The last six months I experimented this with more than a dozen people on various goals and the results were mixed.

I analyzed the patterns and drew some conclusions.

Here are the attributes related to that public promise that might increase the odds of succeeding.

1. High-Stakes

The promise has to be high-stakes. If it is a goal where nothing major is at stake, a public promise will hardly make a difference. You will achieve or not achieve the goal depending on convenience. There is nothing compelling for you to act differently.

2. Hunger with a structure of fulfillment

The promise has to such that it induces serious hunger about something that you always wanted to achieve.

For example, if writing a book is on the cards, access to a network consisting of people who can help (even if you pay for that service) to get that achieved would go a long way.

3. The “public” should include people you highly respect

The people to whom you made the promise is very important. If that “public” includes people you deeply respect, the weightage for the promise goes up as you won’t want to let down the people you respect. This automatically increases the odds of achieving that goal.

4. May be unreasonable, but not unrealistic

The promise may be unreasonable, but it should not be unrealistic. In other words, the fulfilling of that promise should not depend on events or circumstances (e.g.: winning a lottery) outside of your influence or control.

5. Comfortable with the new self-image

If the promise is a high-stakes one, it will result in at least a mini-transformation of YUO as a person. You have to be comfortable with the resulting image of the “new You” or else you will intelligently manufacture excuses to not go there.

Photo courtesy: Keterha on Flickr