To ensure that you stick to your plans about the new habit you want, try using peer pressure to your advantage by making a public commitment and you’ll realise that there’s no turning back! Yes, that’s right. Post it on your Facebook page, tweet it to the world, send all your contacts an email, and tell your plans to everyone you speak in real life.
You don’t want other people to see how inconsistent or weak you are…do you? That is exactly why this technique works. This self-discipline technique does not consist of the most positive sort of motivation, but it certainly belongs to the most effective ones.
“The only thing exceptional about successful people is their ability to do the work.”
An excellent example to illustrate this Technique would be those people who want to quit smoking. Now, I’ve never been much of a smoker myself, but I do know lots of them and I have seen their attempts at quitting smoking fail more times than I can recall. In fact, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve witnessed a failed attempt at quitting smoking, I’d probably be writing this from the sunny climes of the French Riviera. However, the few successful attempts that I’ve witnessed all included the element of ‘public commitment’, which triggered group pressure or social pressure in turn.
That’s right. All of those smokers told everyone around them about their plans of becoming a non-smoker and thereby committing themselves into it publicly.
Now, we’re not going to discuss how you can quit smoking here but we’re going to look at the force behind these commitments and why they work so well. The force behind this technique is peer pressure. We don’t care that much about looking bad to ourselves but when it comes to other people, we want to make a good impression, be consistent and NEVER ever fail.
You don’t have to fight these feelings of public pressure, it’s just human nature. It’s an evolutionary thing. Simply try to make this human trait work to your advantage!
I found out that the folks from peer-pressure.com have designed a system that allows you to achieve maximum results using this peer pressure principle with the help of an iPhone app. There certainly is an app for everything these days.
You can also join an online forum of people who are working on creating the same habit as you. Whether it’s going for a jog every day, eating healthy, training your public speaking or quitting smoking; there is a forum for this. Simply join an online or offline community and surround yourself with people who are struggling with the same exact issues as you are. These people will mostly be very supportive, give you all sorts of advice and provide the moral support that you need.
Obviously, the more you care about what other people think of you, the better this technique will work for you. Research has been done to back this principle up and it has proven to have a significant effect on women who wanted to lose weight. (U. Nyer & Dellande, 2009) This study shows that the public commitment principle is effective especially when the commitment is long-term. People who care more about the opinions of other people or even have genuine fear of social disapproval will benefit the most from this principle. Those who don’t really care about what others think of them, will unfortunately benefit less from this principle.
What is often neglected, but in my opinion is one of the most important steps in creating a new habit, or quitting a negative one is to identify and eliminate the situations in which you are most likely to fall back into your old patterns of behaviour. This hasn’t got much to do with publicly committing yourself but is simply of major importance for building that new habit you want. When are you most likely to light that cigarette again? What are the moments when you just can’t resist that big good ol’ burger? Think about these situations and try to avoid them as much as possible.
If you want to reduce your alcohol consumption, don’t enter a bar! If you drive past a fast-food joint that you can’t resist on your way back home, just take a detour! If some of your colleagues are going for a smoke every hour, don’t go with them. Socialize with other colleagues instead, or just continue working and don’t allow yourself to get into a situation in which you know you will succumb into temptation.
To sum up:
Step 1: Make a public commitment about your new habit
Step 2: Allow yourself to experience the social pressure
Step 3: Join a community of people that are in the same spot as you, online or offline
Step 4: Identify and eliminate situations in which you are most likely to fall back into your old habits.