If you really want to change a habit, put money on it

How to actually fix bad habits

It’s easy to write about building good habits or avoiding bad habits.  It’s harder to actually do those things, day in and day out.  That’s particularly true when it comes to correcting relatively minor mistakes that come from lack of attention on routine tasks.  Most advice on how to fix these things is along the lines of ‘taking more care’ or ‘being more careful’.  So, to pay more attention, pay more attention.


I had a problem like this for best part of a year.  I kept making simple mistakes in filling out some of our ordering forms.  Nothing major, but it was irritating and caused unnecessary work both for me and my colleagues.  Each time when it was spotted, I resolved to pay more attention, and I would always end up making the same mistakes again.

Not good.

So one day I bought tin from the local stationary store and declared that, each time I made a mistake on one of these forms, I would pay ten dollars into it.  At the end of each week, the cash would go to my colleagues to do what they wanted with it.

Amazingly enough, I’ve made exactly one of those mistakes since then.

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