Change Your Behavior with a Simple Card

The best way to kick bad behaviors is to get everyone around you to help. Read on for an easy way to get both your enemies and friends to help you break a bad habit. 

Stever Robbins
2-minute read

Change Your BehaviorWe all have our cute little addictions…like caffeine. Sweet caffeine. The light of your morning, the carrot pulling you through the afternoon. But recently caffeine’s left you feeling strung out, so you’re trying to quit. Quitting is hard, though. So don’t just do it yourself; get everyone around you to help out. Soon, even your worst enemies will be rushing to help you change for the better. Why would your enemies want to help you? Because there’s something in it for them, too.

Here's the secret to getting both friends and enemies to help you break a habit: Have them charge you money every time you slip.

Laser print business cards to hand out to your friends and enemies in the coffee shop. They’re gift cards, but you’re not the one getting the gift. Print on the card, “If presented to [insert your name] within five minutes of ingesting caffeine, [insert your name] agrees to pay the bearer cold hard cash.”

These penalty cards lay out the deal: if you backslide, any card holder can redeem the card and you’ll pay up. You decide how much money will help you accomplish your goal. Choose enough to make you squirm. Say, $500.

You can use this for your social habits, too. Do you get a little crabby right at day’s end? Tell your coworkers that if you snap at them for no reason, they can turn in the card. After you cough up 500 bucks the first couple of times (wow, you really thought you could do it!), you’ll be amazed how nicely you treat people at the end of the day…I know this from personal experience.

You can even use the cards at home. Want help sticking to your weekly chores? Every time your shmoopie has to ask you to empty the trash, you get a penalty card and pay up. You’ll shape up quick. 

Group selection of different Italian coffee types image courtesy of Shutterstock

About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.