We have all been in those scenarios where we decide to do something or to stop doing something say such as exercise everyday, stick to a diet,stop smoking,save more money,etc.At the time of setting that goal or making that decision we feel good and we know we would be able to carry it out.
However, when this ‘future’ arrives and we have to execute, we find it difficult to bring ourselves to do that particular thing. Why is this so?
One explanation is, the future is the best world to leave in.Because in the future we are all amazing people.We would exercise more, we will stick to our diet,stop smoking, save more money and so on.
So what is a Ulysses Contract? Short lesson in Greek Mythology.
‘Ulysses, King of Ithica, and hero of the Trojan War, was on a protracted sea voyage after the war to go back to his home island of Ithica. He had a rare opportunity ahead, in that his ship would pass the island where the beautiful Sirens sang melodies so luring that no one had been able to avoid their magnetic pull. When they lured the sailors and their ships toward them, their ships were dashed on the rocks, drowning all aboard.
Ulysses knew that, like everyone else, when he heard the music he would be unable to resist it. But he created a present plan to deal with his future self. In his present rational state, he ordered his men to lash him to the mast of the ship and not untie him no matter how much he begged or pleaded. He then had them fill their ears with beeswax so they would not be seduced by the voices of the Sirens. He made it clear to them that they were not to release him until the ship was well past the Sirens, nor were they to take the beeswax out until then.’– Dr. Krueger
How does the a modern Ulysses contract work?
In the field of behavioral economics, researchers have focused for years on understanding if we can develop tools that help us as humans keep our emotional self which comes into action in future in control while we still have your rational self now. In other words, could you create a system now that helps you keep a commitment you have made to your future self but you know temptation might not let you keep?
There are 2 examples that are available now.
1.Clocky; Clocky is an alarm clock designed with wheels that moves around once it goes off and it forces you to get out of bed.Check video below.
2.www.StickK.com: Stickk.com was created by Dean Karlan a Professor at Yale Economics. It is an online commitment store that let’s you set your goals and allows you to create a contract to yourself and people you know to make sure you meet that goal.
There are many more ways out there to help you keep your commitment to yourself and you can certainly create your own Ulysses contract to help you meet your set goals.
If you have used any Ulysses contract in the past that really worked for you. Please share them in the comment box.