The Power of Do-Overs: With Guests Jeff Ryan & Marissa Sharif

March 12, 2023
When faced with a challenging goal, is it better to give yourself some slack?
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After you listen

When you fail to reach a challenging goal, say, saving a certain amount of money each month or getting to the gym a certain number of times a week, it can be tempting to just give up on the plan entirely. But new research shows that building some flexibility into that plan can actually improve your chances of success.

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at how mulligans, skip days, cheat meals, and get-out-of-jail free cards are important strategies for sticking to your long-term goals.

In the era of pinball and video arcades, most games provided a limited number of turns or lives for every coin you put in the slot. When you ran out of lives, it was game over. You had to either walk away or pony up more money. That same limited-lives approach to game design followed in early home video game consoles. But in the 1990s, one company tried a new approach—and, in the process, changed the industry forever.

Jeff Ryan tells the colorful story of how Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. became a runaway success and influenced countless games to come.

Jeff Ryan is the author of Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America.

Next, Katy speaks with Marissa Sharif about research that shows that cutting yourself a certain amount of slack—or dipping into what she calls "emergency reserves"—when life gets in the way of your goals can make all the difference.

You can read more in the paper she co-authored with Suzanne B. Shu called "Nudging Persistence After Failure Through Emergency Reserves."

Finally, Katy gives several useful examples of emergency reserves in the real world that can help you learn a language, stick to a diet, or get your daily steps in.

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