Have you started 16,456 diets in your lifetime – most of them on a Monday?
Why did you quit? What went wrong?
Your motivation is never higher than when you start, but what happens when it wears off? Bingo. You fall back into old habits.
You need something to keep you going in the right direction – even during the tough times when motivation wanes.
Sometimes you need to go all in with little choice of quitting until you reach your goal.
The key to doing that?
Blackmailing yourself into seeing it through, which is best explained by a story…
The Power of Blackmailing Yourself
I remember when I hit rock bottom with my weight.
It was in gym class back in 2002, and the teacher was one of those intense guys who favored the athletic kids and made the awkward ones run laps after class.
One day, he brought in one of those hand-held bodyfat measurement devices to use on us.
I tried to avoid the test with an extended stay in the bathroom, but one kid outed me – “there’s no way you scored lower than me.” Sure enough, the digital read told me everything I already knew – I was fat. 36% body fat, fat – the worst score among the guys in the class. (I have since trained that kid who called me out, by the way).
That moment told me I needed to change, but I didn’t know where to start.
That was until my brother came home with a massive bag of protein powder and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Pumping Iron on DVD.
Knowing my younger brother was getting in shape motivated me to do the same.
But here’s the key: I told myself if I didn’t follow suit, I’d have to quit playing video games for a year (a BIG deal to me at the time) and put a sticky note on my computer monitor.
I blackmailed myself into getting in shape with the threat of “losing” video games for a year.
The threat of losing video games was a stronger motivation than the potential gain of getting in shape. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s Loss Aversion Theory sums up why that is, with the pain of losing psychologically two times as powerful as the pleasure of gaining.
I then shared the bet with my dad (tell others about it if you want third party accountability), who was more than happy to fulfill the request if I failed.
He wasn’t a fan of my late nights spent living out fantasies in “Evercrack” (that’s Everquest for you weirdos who have never heard of MMO games).
Sure enough, I lost the weight and now, 14 years later, I’m still doing my thing and coach others to do the same.
Recently, I came across Jon Berardi’s review of The Blackmail Diet – a hard-to-come by book that takes this premise to the extreme.
The author battles obesity and comes up with a plan: he signs a contract with a lawyer and puts $5,000 in escrow. The contract states that if in a year’s time he doesn’t lose 70 pounds, the lawyer must give the money to the American Nazi Party. As expected, a year later he had lost the 70 pounds.
Mike Vacanti of OnTheRegimen.com took this another step, vowing to publish one blog a week until July 7, 2016 or he’d give all his business earnings to his biological father (who he doesn’t speak to). Last I checked, he’s kept to that schedule.
Dan Martell calls this “blackmail” method a forcing function, any task, activity or event that forces you to take action and produce a result.
Call it whatever you want, but the premise works. And is nothing new – having been used in various form for centuries.
During the Spanish conquest of Mexico, Spanish commander, Hernan Cortes, scuttled his ships so that his men would have to conquer or die.
How’s that for motivation? When your life depends on it, you can bet you’ll see it through.
Blackmailing yourself gives you incentive to keep going when the motivation wanes — which it will, no matter the goal.
What’s something you can use as incentive to blackmail yourself to reach a goal? Share it in the comments. The worst (i.e. best) one will win a month of free fitness coaching.
BIO: Mitch Calvert holds a degree in communications and is a certified personal trainer and fat-loss coach. He discovered his love for fitness while eating himself up to 240 lbs and has dedicated the last 14 years of his life to fitness – working specifically with men like his former self who have weight to lose and confidence to gain.
He also hosts Mansformation Challenges for guys looking to get over the fat-loss hump for life, and which should come as little surprise, you can find him online at mitchcalvert.com or connect with him on Facebook or Twitter