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Forcing Functions

Mario Schulzke
Mario Schulzke
2 min read

Have you ever tried to implement a new habit and failed?

Set yourself a goal but never even started making it happen?

Or how about managing someone who continued to not meet your expectations regarding the tasks you thought they would get done?

For me, that's a check and check.
A hard check, actually.

And to an extent, that's ok. We're all humans, not perfect, and quite frankly - not every goal we set for ourselves and others is maybe even necessary. As I have gotten older, I've come to realize that for a long time, I maybe set too many goals. But that's for a different blog.

If you want to accomplish personal and professional goals, I strongly recommend you try "forcing functions."

Forcing functions are simple "if this then that" mechanisms, introducing automatic accountability to help you do the things you want to accomplish.

Here are a few forcing functions that have made an enormous difference in my life.

  1. I weigh myself weekly and then record my weight over time. While I am hardly ever trying to gain or lose weight, this simple check forces me to at least consider in what direction my body composition is heading. Please note that I don't think weighing yourself more than once per week is helpful.
  2. Over the last couple of years, I have tried to improve my sleep. Some of that was forced upon me due to the birth of my daughter (excellent forcing function for several things) as she gets up at 6 am no matter what. That meant I had to learn how to go to bed earlier and improve my sleep quality. As a forcing function, I started intermittent fasting on weekdays, tracked via an app called Zero. By shortening my eating phases (usually from 11 am to 7 pm), I stopped eating a couple of hours before going to bed while eliminating my weekday alcohol consumption.
  3. At the end of the week, my team members write me a status update email summarizing the tasks they accomplished and highlighting what didn't get done. This simple forcing function increases accountability and ensures the ball doesn't get dropped on essential duties.
  4. Setting up my financial system in a way, so money gets automatically saved and invested is an automated forcing function that keeps me from spending money I could have invested.
  5. Want to learn how to perform at least one formal dance? Get married, and allow your dance-crazed partner to pick the song for your first dance. (My mom forced me to go to a dance school in Germany for a year, so this is obviously not me).
  6. Need to clean your house, or at least move all your mess into just one room? Then, invite someone over for dinner.
  7. Want to ride your bike more? Sell your car.

Forcing functions allow me to have a somewhat sane and productive life.

Do you have any forcing functions in your life?

Mario Schulzke Twitter

My name is Mario and I grow ideas, companies and hot peppers.