A Duke University professor recently told his students they had to submit three main papers over the 12-week semester, which would make up the bulk of their grade.
“The deadlines,” he said, “are entirely up to you. You can hand them in anytime before the end of the semester. But by the end of this week, you must commit to a deadline. Once set, they can’t be changed.” As usual, he said, they’d be penalized for late papers.
The result: Students committed to earlier deadlines and their grades were higher than the professor expected.
By allowing students to commit publicly to deadlines, they were able to reach their goals.
What does this mean to nonstudents? When resolving to reach a goal, it might help to commit to a hard deadline, and then tell colleagues, friends or a spouse about it. A public commitment might strengthen your resolve.