Tag: nudges

How To “Stickk” to Your Goals

Have you ever set a goal that you wanted to accomplish, only to give up after a few days or weeks?  How about a New Years resolution?  If you are like me, your probably set a bunch of different goals each year, but are only successful on attaining a small percentage.

Most of my goals are not huge.  For example, this year, I wanted to make sure that I traveled more frequently, played more soccer, read more books and learned how to cook at least one new dish per month, to name a few.  I have done some of them, but all of them and wanted to try to find ways to give myself incentives to actually complete them.  I was reading the Freakonomics blog the other day and remembered an old post about a new website designed to help you follow through.

StickK.com, a website founded by Freakonomics contributor by Ian Ayres and two of his Yale collegues, allows you to set a goal, a completion date and puts some teeth behind failing to complete your goal.  They came up with a “commitment contract” to help make sure that you follow through on your goal.  From their site:

Entirely unique to each person, a Commitment Contract obliges you to achieve your goal within a particular time-frame. Not only are you challenging yourself by saying “Hey, I can do this,” you’re also putting your reputation at stake. If you are unsuccessful, we’ll let your friends know about it.

Oh but wait, there’s more…

Sometimes losing face with your friends might not be enough to keep you on track. So, what is the one thing no one can stand to part with? You guessed it! Cold hard cash.

As a true test of your commitment, stickK will let you put your money on the line for any Commitment Contract. Achieve your goal and you don´t pay a thing (and you´re much happier than before, aren´t you?).

But if you aren’t successful, you forfeit your money to a charity, an anti-charity or even that neighbor who keeps stealing your newspaper.

Adding money into the situation is a really interesting idea, but the idea of an “anti-charity” is what makes this website unique and innovative.  For example, if you are a hardcore Republican and you want to lose 15 pounds, you can make your contract say that you will donate $100 to a gun control advocacy if you do not achieve your goal.  The anti-charity adds so much added motivation for you to complete your goal.  If you fail, you are not only letting yourself down and spending money, but you are helping a cause that you do not like.

I decided to try it out today to see if it works and set up an account.  They only have a few anti-charities, so I used the “friend or foe” option.  Since I am a proud UW grad and a huge Badger sports fan, if I do not achieve my goal, I will donate $200 to the University of Michigan Athletic Department.  I will keep you updated if I accomplish my goal or if the University of Michigan Athletic Department will get $200 of my hard earned money.

Do you think StickK is a good idea?  What anti-charity would you donate to?

How Much is Fair to Tip a Tour Guide?

My friend (I can’t use her real name because her company does not like employees to talk about tips) graduated from UW-Madison this past May and decided to take a different path than most graduates.  Instead of setting for a 9-5 desk job, she decided to travel and get jobs wherever she ended up.  I truly admire her decision and hope I am able to do something similar at some point.

She is currently living in London working as a tour guide for free walking tours in central London.  She is paid a small wage per tour, but the bulk of her compensation comes from tips from tourists on her guided tours.

When she first began giving tours, she would wait until the end of the tour and then say “If you had fun, I will graciously accept tips.”  Some people would tip, but many would not and her Pounds per person rate was rather low.

Last week, she changed her pitch at the end of tours to “I work on a tips only basis, so if you had fun, I will graciously accept what you think this tour is worth.”  When she took a tour group past one of the many bus tours of central London, she would say “look at all of those lazy people on the buses.  They paid 30 pounds for their trip and all they do is sit.”

Her tips have increased by over 50%.

Her story is an interesting case of how small changes in messages to create a large change in viewer reaction.  The Nudges Blog talks about these types of issues every day.  She also uses anchoring to get people to think about what her tour is worth.  By letting her tourists know that people who are on the bus tours pay 30 Pounds, she is giving them an idea of what other tours are worth.  She is setting a high anchor for people so that when they are asked to tip, they base their tips on a known commodity.

Although her tips have increased, she is still looking for other nudges that will increase them even more.  See if you can help her out by posting your ideas in the comments.