How To Compel Yourself To Do Hard Things 

 July 23, 2020

By  Lynette

In the popular book Influence, Robert Cialdini wrote about how the introduction of “cooling off” laws affected some door-to-door sales companies. Under the law, customers are allowed to cancel their purchase and request a full refund a few days after signing the sale.

As you might expect, it hit these companies hard. Sales were down. Majorly down. So they employed a very simple solution. Instead of the sales person filling out the sales agreement, they had the customer to do it. Just this simple action alone reduced the refund requests dramatically.

What Happened There?

Apparently, the mere act of writing something down, makes you act in accordance to what you wrote. After all, it is written down clearly in your own writing for anyone to see. In addition, writing takes more effort than a verbal commitment. That small effort has a big impact in your mind because now, you've started it. You've committed yourself and because you don't want to be seen like a wishy-washy flake, you are more likely to follow through.

Writing Seals The Deal

It's as if writing things down seals the deal in your mind. As the saying goes, talk is cheap. There is something magical when you put pen to paper. This is exactly the reason why I no longer use digital solutions for my day-to-day and mid-long term planning.

There are some things paper can't do, like reminders. But that is easily solved. Time sensitive appointments are digital (Google Calendars) so I can share it easily with family and also let them edit it. But for things related to personal goals, dreams and todo's, those are hand written.

I love my paper planner because it allows me to plan the way I want, get a little creative. I'm not constrained by what an app thinks is important or how they think I should do things. Most importantly, I get to write down my tasks, plans, goals, action checklists and more by hand.


Believe me, I questioned by sanity in the beginning. Why do things by hand when you have the best calendars, expensive computers, and handy cell phone apps?

I can't explain it, but since I started to move to paper planning, I managed to win a 25K grand prize for my business. Lost a bunch of weight and achieved so much more than I did before. I did it all faster too.

I attribute a lot of that achievement to the unconscious commitment I make to myself in writing, every day.

This is how I get myself to do hard things.

If you would have told me I could do that just 2 years ago, I would have laughed at you.

Unbelievable! I would have shouted. But it did happen and along with it, some major mindset shifts as well.

Your Turn

What about you? Are you getting where you want to go? Do you have unfulfilled dreams? Maybe you've already achieved a lot but want more. I challenge you to write it down. Your goals, your dreams, your daily action tasks.

You might be a die-hard electronic planner user. I was too at one time. As a web developer, I could not imagine using un-geeky tools but Oh! It works. So amazingly well. Give it a shot you might be pleasantly amazed.


Your Signature

  1. Lynette,
    You’re so right about how cool all the tools available are. I’ve learned the same thing about myself that using only online tools just doesn’t get it done for me. I’m pretty tactile and visual. There really is a connection between the brain and my emotional attachment to things that I write with a pen and paper. It’s all about the action of manually writing that makes the mental connection. It also, as you say, is a step in the commitment to accomplish something. Thanks for the great reminder. BTW – I love your workbooks and planners.

    1. So true! I am thrilled to know we share the same experiences ❤️ and thank you for your kind words!

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