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Bruins can ‘StickK’ to New Year’s resolutions when stakes are raised

(Alyssa Dorn/Daily Bruin)

By Julia McCarthy

Jan. 5, 2016 11:32 p.m.

“New Year new me!” “Page 1 of 365 starts today.” “New Year new dreams.”

I’m sure that you have seen and rolled your eyes at at least one of these cheesy phrases flooding your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram newsfeed in the past few days. And each is often accompanied by a New Year’s resolution: some variation of exercising more, being a better student, etc.

But how many people successfully follow through on these resolutions? CBS News reports, “36 percent of people will break their New Year’s resolutions by the end of January. That number jumps 56 percent by July.” These stats set a pretty dismal bar for success. So how can UCLA students increase the likelihood of following through with their Jan. 1 resolutions?

One solution comes in the form of the website StickK, which allows an individual to register their resolution online, set a financial penalty for failing to complete their goal, and appoint a person as a referee to ensure that the individual is sticking to their resolution. The StickK website notes that a both a referee and the threat of money on the line are methods that have shown to boost success rates of fulfilling goals.

However, the money element in the StickK equation has an interesting twist: StickK gives users the option of donating their money toward an “anti-charity” if they fail to fulfill their New Year’s resolution, incentivizing the person to complete their goals in order to prevent their money from going to a group they do not support.

One of the StickK co-founders, Yale economics professor Dean Karlan, said that many users choose the National Rifle Association or a conservative or liberal super PAC as their anti-charity of choice when establishing a resolution.

For UCLA students, this model can serve as a fun challenge, especially during an election year when political donations are more important than ever. While students don’t necessarily have to sign up for the actual StickK website, they can implement the financial stakes/referee method with a group of friends: Each student appoints another student to help them keep track of their goals, and students commit a set amount of money at the beginning of the quarter to an anti-charity of their choice.

So if you’ve avoided staying up to date on the 2016 election so far because the thought of hearing Donald Trump screaming unintelligible racist soundbites doesn’t quite appeal to you, I can’t blame you. But putting one’s own money into the election, even if it’s 5 bucks, can provide students with a reason to stay up to date on the news.

That 8 a.m. class you never seem to make it to? Promises of going to Wooden more frequently? Making these goals public with the threat of one’s money being funneled toward a Marco Rubio super PAC might just be the perfect way to get Bruins on the ellipticals.

For those less politically inclined, students can choose a simpler alternative: A group of friends, suitemates, those part of a student group, whatever the case may be, can set resolutions together, pooling money on resolutions and rewarding the person who sticks to their resolution all the money in the pot.

Resolutions can serve as helpful, productive mechanisms to improve bad habits or develop new good ones, and incentives can help students stick to their goals. So think long and think hard about which of the 2016 presidential candidates in the vast sea of politicians, brain surgeons, real estate moguls and socialists you hate the most, and put your money down on them. That seems to be a pretty surefire method to keep you to your promise.

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Julia McCarthy | Opinion columnist
Julia McCarthy has been an opinion columnist since 2013. She was an assistant opinion editor from 2014-2015. She writes about national and local politics, sexual assault and harassment prevention and campus resources.
Julia McCarthy has been an opinion columnist since 2013. She was an assistant opinion editor from 2014-2015. She writes about national and local politics, sexual assault and harassment prevention and campus resources.
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