Setting Stakes

June 23, 2017


In episode #3 of The Canvas Project, one of the questions Julian asked me is whether I have any stakes for The Canvas Project. According to @timferris, stakes are built on the principle that creating incentives and assigning accountability are the two most important keys to achieving a goal. An alternative is to establish consequences such as paying a noticeable amount of money if the goal is not achieved. This builds on a core economic principle — loss aversion — where people tend to prefer avoiding losses than acquiring the same gains. Some studies have shown that people feel twice as bad about the possibility of losing something as they feel good about the possibility of gaining it.


In Julian’s case, he gave himself 5 years to give his freelance photography business a real shot, otherwise, he would find a job. Given his love for photography, this acts as a motivator for him to do what is required to ensure he can continue making a career out of his passion.




1) Define the goal or outcome you are working to achieve


2) Find a ‘referee’ (someone to hold you accountable)


3) Agree on the success criteria


4) Set the stake (money is usually something you don’t want to lose!)


5) Start grinding


Photo Credit: @julianfok


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