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Make a commitment that counts

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When leaders say that they’re going to do something, they follow through. But that’s especially hard if they promise to tackle a tough task.

In 2011, Andy McMenemy told everyone of his outlandish plan to run 66 ultramarathons over 66 straight days in 66 cities. Once he publicly declared his intent, he felt obliged to do it.

Against all odds, he persevered and accomplished his goal despite severe injuries. He jokes that his “hung by your tongue” strategy propelled him because so many people knew of his goal.

Mette Bloch applied a similar approach to fulfill her ambitions. A world champion Danish rower, Bloch decided she wanted to switch careers and become a stand-up comedian.

In addition to telling people of her plan, she spent about $21,000 to book a 1,635-seat theatre for a specific date.

After making such a big commitment, she felt like she had no choice. She wound up giving a sold-out, crowd-pleasing performance.

Stating your commitment increases your odds of follow through. In Bloch’s case, forking over a fortune to lock herself into doing something difficult achieved the same result.

Why do these strategies work? They highlight the difference between convincing yourself you have good reasons to pursue a tough goal and coming up with reasons you can actually feel.

When you’re emotionally wedded to a certain outcome, you’re more apt to attain it.

— Adapted from The Power to Get Things Done, Steve Levinson and Chris Cooper, Perigee.

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