Guarantee You'll Do the Work

A Way to Guarantee You Will Do Your Work

Erik Learning, Personal Development and Lifestyle, Thoughts of a Mastermind, Work 6 Comments


How many times have you started something and a few weeks later, the spark has faded?

Maybe, you were really excited to be doing something new, but for whatever reason, the habit didn’t completely form or priorities shifted.

Has this ever bothered you? How it’s incredibly difficult to stick with something for more than a few days or weeks at a time?

The power of compounding is alive and well in this world; consistent efforts added up daily result in massive success. Unfortunately, that’s the toughest part: the consistency.

What went wrong? Why couldn’t you keep going?

What if I told you there was a way to guarantee you get your work done? Would that interest you?

In this post, I’ll be getting into step 4 of 4 in the learning strategy from the 4-Hour Chef, and talk about stakes and why they are necessary for guaranteeing your work will get done.

Learning How to Become a Better Learner with The 4-Hour Chef

4 hour chef learningGuiding us on our journey this month on how to become a better learner is the book the 4-Hour Chef, a book by Tim Ferris.

The 4-Hour Chef is all about learning and how to become a better at it (at the same time, teaches you how to cook… though that’s not what we are going to focus on this month).

In the book, Tim Ferris explains how anyone can be an expert in anything in 6 to 12 months, and if practiced effectively, even 6 to 12 weeks.

The 4-Hour Chef Learning Strategy is pretty simple. Complexity is what trips up many people when they go to learn.

The 4-Hour Chef learning strategy can be remembered as DiSSS, and stands for the following:

  • Deconstruction
    • What are the smallest learnable pieces of information or tasks which you can break the learning into?
  • Selection
    • From those smallest blocks of information, which ones should you focus on? (20/80 Principle)
  • Sequencing
    • What is the correct order you should go about applying the important small blocks?
  • Stakes
    • How can ensure you follow the program? Can you set-up a system where if you don’t do the tasks you identified that there are real negative consequences?

So far in this series, we’ve touched on deconstruction, selection and sequencing. Today’s post is about stakes.

Why Stakes are Critical for Learning and Work

I have a question for you: would you work harder to make $100 OR work harder to avoid losing $100?

If you are like me, I’m guessing you would work harder to avoid losing $100.

Why is this?

Naturally, humans are loss averse, meaning, humans would prefer to avoid a loss than seek the equivalent gain.

Why do I bring this up?

When going to learn something new, do something new, or keep things going on the path they are, there have to be stakes.

An easy example of stakes is the following: at your day job, if you don’t show up, you’ll be fired.

For learning or any work, adding stakes will result in a much higher probability of success than a scenario with no stakes.

One way suggested in the book, and something I’ve tried in the past was the concept of donating to an “anti-charity”. 

An anti-charity?

Let’s say, just for example, you are anti-gun and hate the NRA.

How motivated would you be if you had to donate $10 to the NRA every time you didn’t do what you said you were going to do?

I know I’d be motivated to get the work done, and I can guarantee you I would.

Other examples of stakes might include an accountability partner where the loser has to buy dinner. There are many forms to stakes, and you can structure this however you want.

At the end of the day, you have to figure out what the best way to get the work done is for you.

Using Stakes in My Learning and Becoming a Better Piano Player

Show me, don’t just tell me.

Anyone can put up anything on the internet these days.

I can write all about learning and how to become a better learner, but all of that is wasted knowledge if I don’t actually apply it in my life. (it’s also bogus if I don’t practice what I preach!)

This month, alongside this series of posts, I’ve started playing piano again with the intent to learn how to become a better piano player.

My goals with my piano playing is to have a better musical ear, and also become better at sight reading.

What are the stakes for me?

Well, there are two things keeping me accountable.

First, my goals. I have a goal to post 3 times a week here on this website in 2018.

Second, I told you in May I was doing a series all about learning and specifically, applying our learning of learning to becoming a better piano player.

I don’t want to be a phony – and I certainly am not someone who is going to not achieve his goals.

In today’s video, I talk a little more about stakes, as well as play a song I’ve been practicing over the last few days.

Concluding Thoughts on Guaranteeing Your Actions with Stakes

Being consistent is so difficult.

Many of us know how to be successful, and for the first few days, we get the work done.

A week later, things have faded.

What happened?

Nothing really, there just wasn’t a strong reason for you to continue.

By using stakes, you can ensure you get the work done.

Using an anti-charity, an accountability partner, or many accountability partners (with me, that’s you and all the other Mastermind Within readers!), you can ensure you are getting your work done.

In the next post, we will look take a look at a few advanced things to consider when learning something new.

Readers: how do you make sure you do what you will say? Do you ever feel like quitting? What’s your strategy for continuing your work?




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Comments 6

    1. Post
  1. Hey Erik,

    I think stakes can be a big part of it. One thing I do is tell my friends and family of a goal I have, as in “I’ll be doing X this year”. That way, if I fail, I look like a BS-er. I think this can be a very powerful motivator.


    1. Post

      Thanks Miguel for the comment! I really like that one – having an accountability partner or partners is a great way to stay motivated!

  2. Way to stick it to the NRA, my friend! Love it.

    I wish I had Ferriss’s book back when I was a bachelor, struggling to learn to the culinary arts. I have “The Four Hour Body” but seem to only find enough time to eat. 🙁

    Great to see you guys on Sat!

    1. Post

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