Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions

E.B. Boyd by E.B. Boyd | January 4th, 2009 | No Comments
topic: Green Living

The new year is a great time to make resolutions — and, of course, to reflect on how far we’ve fallen short on those of years passed. Statistics show that a majority of us fail to make good on our promises to exercise more, be a kinder person or start saving money — much less stick to all the green resolutions we make every January (confession: I still leave my lights on way too much). Fortunately, there’s a new tool to help us ratchet up our stick-to-it success rate. is a free website that helps users achieve their goals by having them set up “commitment contracts.” The brainchild of a Yale economics professor who used the concept to lose 38 pounds, the contracts require you to meet your goal by a specific date — and if you fail, to forfeit a pre-pledged amount of money to a specifically designated person, charity, or worse, “anti-charity” (one that supports initiatives you’re against). To keep you honest, you appoint a “referee” who confirms you did what you said you were going to do.

StickK’s creators say it works because of basic human psychology. Open-ended plans with nothing at stake are simply harder to stick to than ones with a deadline attached and a penalty for non-performance. To raise the stakes even higher, and maybe give you that extra push, you can designate a list of supporters — or, worse, a “Foe” — who will receive an email letting them know if you fail to meet your goal.

Use stickK to follow this list of eco-friendly resolutions, and by summer your new green habits will be firmly ingrained. (Determine your own penalty amount for each. Just remember to make it high enough to be painful, without breaking your budget.)

Goal: Install power strips and turn them off when I’m done using my electronics at least five days a week

Deadline: February 28

Penalty recipient: That person at work who drives you bonkers

Goal: Keep the thermostat at 68 degrees or lower at least five days a week

Deadline: March 31

Penalty recipient: Charity (StickK will choose the charity at random from a list of organizations they support)

Goal: Turn off lights when I leave a room every day for a month

Deadline: April 30

Penalty recipient: Anti-Charity (you get to choose one from StickK’s list of anti-charities)

Goal: Bring reusable bags to the market every shopping trip this month

Deadline: May 31

Penalty recipient: Your significant other or best friend

Goal: Bike or take public transportation to work at least two days a week

Deadline: June 30

Penalty recipient: Your nutty neighbor


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