Commitment cost - The Akrasia effects and how to solve it.

in Steeming Community9 months ago


Have you ever done something else, even after you have planned well to-do something of value for yourself? You may say, I have all the plans set out and I will start tomorrow but when it is time to start you procrastinate. Here is the thing, you did not just procrastinate, something kindles it.

In 1830, the popular French author, Victor Hugo promised his publishers that he would publish a book in the year. It was already in summer. Instead of Hugo to write, he was busy having meetings, going for shows and pursuing other things that could give him money. The publishers gave him an odd deadline to get his book live within 6 months, which the book had to finish in Feb 1831.

Hugo thought of a way to beat the deadline despite that it is too short to the get his work done. He told his assistant to lock up all his clothes, and he was left with just a shawl to cover his body. This is to ensure that he would not have a cloth to wear outside again. Victor Hugo started working aggressively in his home and he published The Hunchback of Notre Dame on Jan 14, 1831, which is 2 weeks earlier than the deadline.


Most of us are like Hugo. We set out plans to get something done, but procrastination and distractions will set in and they eat up the time that is supposed to be used for something of value. One of the developers working for my project is always lacking behind in communication, so I was always furious about this. One day I asked him — “why do you take so much time to pick up your phone or reply messages”? He said — “he would spend the entire day chatting, watch YouTube videos, and doing other irrelevant things if he stays with his phone”.

The ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, named behaviors like this as Akrasia. Akrasia is a situation of doing something against your plan. To better explain it, it is a state where you do a different thing when you are supposed to be doing a better thing. You know it, but you just find yourself not doing it.

Why we don’t follow plans.

The human mind clings to quick reward in every effort. We like to get a reward in everything we do without the need to wait for so long. When you plan to work on building a company of your own or learning something new. They are all process and your brain would love the possible future results, but your current self may desire quick result. This is why sometimes you plan to go to the gym and get yourself to a better shape. The decision is good, but your current self may want to get in this shape without the need to wait for 6-month intensive exercise.

Beating Procrastination and living an Akrasia free life.

Practice to have a good future. Commitment is hard without gratification. Therefore is it sometimes hard to be committed to your plans as you set them out. Sometimes, distractions are not always things that are not valuable. Just like Hugo did, he was busy having meetings, chasing on other business and making money on other things, but the ultimate plan for him was to get the book out. Just like he did. Figure out your price for commitment and pay them.


If it is hard for you to stay with your phone without feeding Facebook, lock it away. You should plan a way to make sure you do what you planned and automate your action.

Furthermore, you must focus on ways to get committed to your plans. What would be more painful between procrastination and being in the process of your plans? The process could be hard or easy, but the commitment to start is the firm decision to make. Our mind always wants to get the reward quick, and this makes it hard to be committed to our plans, and therefore we need to make bold and odd decisions to remain on the track of our plans.

You can turn your akrasia to enkrateia as described by Aristotle. You just need to take your mind off quick gratification and focus on long time values.

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