Do you always set new year’s resolutions/goals every year but fail to stick to them?

Don’t worry, you are not alone. According to a recent research, only 37.8% of people in their twenties achieve their resolutions every year.

So what happens to the remaining 62%? Well, they just simply wait for the next year so they can set-up new goals again. And, not stick to it… again.

What can we do about this? Pray? Meditate? Move on? Hire a coach or a mentor?

The Culprits

In my personal experience as well with the my clients’ experiences, people usually fail to meet their goals due to these reasons; no clarity, fear, and procrastination. There could be a lot more reasons out there, but it might be summed up by these three reasons, more or less.

  • No Clarity – If you don’t know why you are doing or setting your goals in the first place, then you have a big problem. If there’s no “What’s in it for me?” in the goals that you are trying to set, then there’s a slim chance of being successful.
  • Fear –  Fear of failure, fear of being successful, and all other fears usually prevents you from becoming successful. Imagine how easy it will be to set and achieve goals knowing that you can never fail and you’re guaranteed success.
  • Procrastination – The thought that you have more than enough time to do what you’re supposed to do is one of the reasons why many fail to achieve their goals. The moment you delay or postpone something signifies a weak resolution and it needs to be addressed.

How do I stick to my goals then?

There are more mainstream ways to stick to your goals such as visualization, creating accountability and making your goals SMART to name a few. But here’s an intriguing technique.


I stumbled upon this concept while reading the book Think Small by Owain Service & Rory Gallagher.

Anti-Incentive is described as incentive that “helps you learn how much you really care about something.” Zappos is doing this and it’s that interesting I actually tried it out myself in one of the goals that I was setting.

The simplest example of anti-incentive as per the book Think Small is to make a financial pledge to a cause or charity that you really despise.

It doesn’t have to be really financial, it just has to be something you do not want to do.

Think of your least favorite sports team, politician or organization and commit to donating to that individual or organization if you fail to achieve your goal.

But, whenever you do this, you need to make it binding, meaning someone must hold you accountable to do what you said you would do if ever you fail.

An Experiment

Since I’m really intrigued by this new concept that I learned, I applied it to a goal that I’m currently setting. I also used this framework in writing the goal.

I wanted to lose 8 kilos in 9 weeks. This means that if I am successful, my final weight will be a weight that I haven’t reached before in my entire adult life.

My anti-incentive is to donate a significant amount of money to the campaign of a politician that I hope will never win a senatorial seat in the Philippines.

This anti-incentive is bound and will be executed by my wife if ever I fail.

My Result

It’s actually funny how this goal ended. First of, I was successful in reaching my goal but the last day was really a pain for me. I miscalculated the last day for my goal that I ended up having to lose 1.5 kilos in 2 hours through running and sauna to reach my target goal.

I felt like a boxer trying to make the weight limit. About an hour into the exercise, quitting crossed my mind. I can pay the amount I promised to pay but there’s just too much on the line for me to quit than just the financial side. So I persevered and got the result I wanted.

Over the 9 weeks that I’m doing this goal, whenever I’m feeling lazy to workout or eat more than what I am allowed, I just think of my anti-incentive and I’m back to being focused.

What I really wanted to say after all is said and done is, it works!


More than the thought of me achieving my goal with flying colors, it’s the loathing that I’ll feel when I fail and will have to donate that money.

Probably, the willpower you get for doing something that you really do not want to do is what makes this an effective “stick to your goal” tactic.

What I presented here is just an alternative to all other techniques you can employ to meet your goals.

At the end of the day, it’s your “What’s in it for me?” that will eventually make you laser-focused on achieving your goals. With or without incentive or… anti-incentive.