Here’s another way you can make a plan in advance that will help you stick to your long term goals.

And that’s something called pre-commitment.

Let’s illustrate that with one of the oldest stories in written record.

OK so here’s the story of Odysseus.

You might remember this story.

Classic story in the Greek tradition.

There was a time when Odysseus was on this ship and there were the sirens if you remember, the sirens were these alluring vexing women of the sea who could sing songs that would lure men away from their boats and cause them never to be seen again.

So Odysseus had to resist the temptation, he had to resist the call of the sirens because he needed to control his impulses and get on with his journey.

And so what Odysseus did in the story is, he knew that he would be, he would succumb to these alluring songs of the sirens and he knew he had to do something to resist himself from taking in the temptation.

And so he tied himself he had his men tie himself to the post of the ship so that he couldn’t move.

He knew that he would be powerless once the temptation was there that he created an obstacle for himself in advance.

OK I’m going to admit I may have gotten some of the story wrong.

I’m not a literature scholar. 

But the point remains we can anticipate when self-control is going to be really hard and by anticipating those moments we can then do things in advance to help us resist.

Once that moment comes this is the idea of pre-commitment. 

So be honest with yourself.

Think about when you have the hardest time controlling your impulses.

When what is the food that you just cannot say no to. For me for whatever reason it’s chocolate.

I know it, if there’s chocolate in the house I eat so much of it.

I just love it and I cannot say no.

I don’t know why. Actually I know because it’s a highly addictive drug that makes you 8 times more addictive than cocaine. 

But that’s how it works for me.

And so I know that that’s my weakness.

So I just don’t buy it.

I don’t! If I’m at the store I don’t go down the aisle.

I know that if I go down the aisle I will want to buy it once I see it and once I have it in my house,

I’m going to drink so much of it.

I just don’t even buy it.

So when you know what your weaknesses are you should restrict those opportunities to fail in self-control in advance.

So resist access to the temptation.

That’s like for example don’t allow yourself to have it near you because otherwise you know that you’re going to cave right.

Tie yourself to a post if you know that the sirens are going to call for you.

So you can restrict your ability to even give into the temptation.

But what you can also do is make it costly to fail.

You can set things up in such a way that if you fail to control your impulses and you give in to temptation create a situation where giving in is going to be really costly to you.

So for me it would be something like If I only buy one at a time that’s more expensive than buying huge packs of it.

So other examples of this are saving money.

So when people think they’re going to have trouble restricting their spending this is not exactly in the dieting domain but it’s self-control nonetheless.

When people think they’ll have trouble restricting their spending they can lock money away in a bank account that will charge you a lot of money to take money out of it.

OK so you create a situation where if you give into this temptation you’re going to pay for it.

You’re going to really steeply pay for it.

Similar things pertain to smoking.

So you know that if you give into the temptation to smoke you’re going to be spending a lot of money.

So pick a cigarette brand that has the most expensive price tag.

That way if you give into the temptation you’re really going to pay for it.

And that’s additional disincentive against caving to the temptation.

I mentioned soda consumption.

Don’t buy soda don’t have it around buy it only one bottle at a time because it’s more expensive than in packs of bigger amounts.

So don’t stock up on junk food.

Don’t buy the huge pack of junk food from the grocery store instead.

If you’re going have it at all buy them more individual expensive packs because you know that if you give into that temptation you’re really going to pay for it.

But in general the advice is just keep it away from yourself if you know that you’re a sucker for chocolate.

Walk straight past the candy aisle in the grocery store and don’t even try to tempt yourself because you know in advance you have some trouble with it.

So as a strategy for pre-commitment plan ahead and limit the allure of temptation in advance find out what your weaknesses are and then think about how you can make those hard for you to ever have to encounter.


How can you make it so that you don’t even have to consider the temptation that comes with having dessert offered to you at a restaurant.

So if you know one restaurant offers dessert every time and you always get the pudding because you just

can’t resist.

Well maybe you don’t go to that restaurant because you know that there is going to be a temptation that you’ll have trouble resisting and just think about that in this way.


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