OMB Director Peter Orszag uses a commitment strategy for his marathon training

“If I didn’t achieve what I wanted to, a very large contribution would automatically come out of my credit card and go to a charity that I very much didn’t support,” Orszag says of his training strategy. “So that was a very strong motivation, as I was running through mile 15 or 16 or whatever it was, to remind myself that I really didn’t want to give the satisfaction to that charity for the contribution.”

He declines to name the charity.

Orzag on NPR. Hat tip: Economix, which also digs up a new favorite for our growing collection of alarm clocks. This one doesn’t turn off unless you feed it coins.

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  • Jeff

    I’ve done similar pacts with other people, regarding weight loss, or other fitness goals, only giving the other person money upon failure.

    I’ve even made long term commitments with, say, a monthly weigh-in, and a penalty to be paid if the goal is not being met. For it to work best, the amount of money needs to be significant, but not crushing, and you need to put the same thing up at risk. On a monthly basis, it can be a good long term nudge. Just miss the goal by a little bit, and you might pay only a little bit this month, but fall equivalently behind in the following month, and the payment gets larger and larger, and isn’t going to get smaller unless you catch up to your goal.