Promise or Pay is a Win-Win Ultimatum.

I used to be an English teacher in Japan. Many of my students wanted to improve their English speaking abilities, so I would tell them to set goals. Often times I would hear goals like, “I want to be fluent!”

“Okay,” I would think, “That’s a good goal, but it’s not very realistic.” I would help them out by teaching the smart way of setting goals. S.M.A.R.T. stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timed. If a goal has all these aspects, it is a much more realistic goal. “I want to be fluent!” changes to “I will add one word to my set of vocabulary flashcards each day this month, and review the words out loud before I got to sleep.” S.M.A.R.T. goals are a way to stay on track, and actually crate change in your behavior.

There is a new goal setting app that similarly, attempts to deliver real results, rather than hollow promises. This app is called Promise or Pay and was created by Jay Booklin. Promise or Pay takes goal setting, and adds another aspect – social media.

The social media aspect works as a motivator and a way to keep honest – kind of like going to the gym with a buddy, so that you feel bad if you flake out on him or her.

Here’s how Promise or Pay works: you download the app, set your goal publicly, and then if you do not achieve your goal in the allotted time, you pay a pre-determined amount of money to a charity of your choice. The user chooses the goal, the timeframe, and the amount of money.

The idea for Promise or Pay was born after Jay had a tough time sticking to his own goals. “I conceived the idea after having a similar experience to millions of other people around the world – struggling to achieve my goals and break bad habits. The idea was that I would be more likely to succeed if I shared them with others and risked losing my hard earned money if I failed to follow through.” Jay entered his idea into a competition and won. His prize came in the form of funding to develop his first proof of concept, which you can see at the Promise or Pay website.

There is a lot of argument on who makes a bigger difference it the world, the individual or the corporation. For example, does one oncologist who fights cancer through her practice make a bigger impact than a corporation who donates tons of money to cancer research? Jay Booklin believes it is the individual who makes a difference. “Call me naïve and but I wholeheartedly believe in the power of the individual to improve the world and that minor acts can spark major change…Through the nexus of mobile technology, charitable giving and behavioral science Promise or Pay uses small, personal promises to drive real, wide scale social change.”

The good thing about Promise or Pay is that it is a win-win situation. If you achieve your goal, you feel great about yourself. If you do not, then a charity gets rewarded. What Jay Booklin is trying to do is, “…harness the power of promises to make a better world by inspiring millions of people from all over the world to be the best they can be and, at the same time, encourage and facilitate millions of dollars in donations to charity.” The idea is still in its infancy, but if you have a habit you’re trying to break, or maybe a new years resolution that has since fallen off, check out Promise or Pay.

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