Bogus Pipeline Experiment: A Psychological Hack To Keep Your Goals On Track

Years ago, I was having a problem. I was recently self-employed and, in my new-found freedom, had somehow convinced myself waking up at 9:00 AM and doing nothing productive until 10:00 or 11:00 was totally acceptable.

It didn’t take long to realize that, no, that schedule was not going to lead to the life I wanted. So, I did what everyone does when they decide to change something about themselves: I told myself sternly, “Tyler! You’re going to wake up at 6:00 AM every day and get right to work!”

Then, for months, I continued to wake up at 8:00 AM and putz around until 11:00. Just like before.

The funniest part is I remember taking an online survey at one point asking me about my daily habits and I dutifully reported I was an early riser — waking up at 6:00 or earlier every day. Ha! I guess I didn’t realize telling myself I did something wasn’t the same asdoing it.

The pattern continued a few more months until a friend of mine mentioned he was having the same problem waking up on time and suggested we become accountability partners. The plan was simple: we’d meet each other on Skype by 6:05 every morning, give each other a brief hello, lay out our plan for the day, and then get some important work done immediately after the call before eating, showering, or letting any other distraction get in the way.

It worked brilliantly. Suddenly, I was accountable to someone who could call me out. If I wasn’t there on time, it was pretty obvious what had happened; I’d slept in.

And, in a completely “Duh!” kind of moment, there’s now research proving a bit of accountability will take you a very long way towards actually accomplishing the goals you say are important to you.

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