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Following the Rules

How to Accomplish Any Goal in 24 Days

When I committed to learning guitar in 12 days, I took a $50 bill and stuck it in an envelope. Seven days in, I woke up and all I wanted to do was browse Reddit and stay inside.

I thought, “I could not practice, but then I’d lose fifty bucks. Is that worth an extra day lying in bed?”

Bed covered in candy

Depends on what’s in the bed.

Not wanting to lose money was the main reason I practiced, and it’s why I can write music, sing and play guitar today.

Usually I go for 24 days because it’s the longest I can before needing to tweak an experiment.

I’ve used 24 day challenges to get better at talking to people, make awesome Youtube videos, and make my first $100 on the side.

“But how do you stick with it?”

Most of us quit projects the first time something goes wrong, BUT we can get around that by using loss aversion.

A.J. Jacobs, author of Drop Dead Healthy describes loss aversion like this:

During my health project, I tried several methods to kick the dried-mango habit. One of the more effective: I had my wife write a check to a horrible organization—I believe it was the American Nazi Party—and had her promise to mail it in if I ate another dried mango. The thought of her mailing the check was so repulsive I stopped eating the mangoes cold.

So, to get yourself through all 24 days, pick a charity you hate or decide in advance to give money to a random stranger, and the pain of losing money will get you through the down times and push through self doubt.

When I was doing a homelessness experiment and sleeping on the streets of New York City, it would’ve been easy to give up halfway through.

To keep myself going, I took a $100 bill and promised my friends I’d leave it on the subway if I didn’t stay outside for 28 hours.

While resting my head on concrete as ambulances blazed by all night wasn’t easy, it hurt a lot less than throwing away a hundred dollars.

Here’s what you can do right now:

1. Pick something you want to get done, it can be anything that takes consistent effort, like getting a new job, finding more clients for your side business, or even getting a date.

2. Then, spend 25 minutes to an hour finding three strategies to accomplish what you want to do. You can use Google for this. Search “how to x” and read the first 10-15 links to find common threads.

3. After that, commit to doing those three things every day for 24 days, and give money to an anti-charity if you fail.

It’s fun to fantasize about how awesome you’re going to be someday, but it’s much more fun to actually become as awesome as you want to be today.

So tell me, what have you been putting off? Let me know in the comments, commit to doing it for 24 days, and come back here to let everyone know how it went.

I look forward to hearing what you decide to do.

-Alex

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