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Motivate yourself with "loss aversion"

NPR: Put Your Money Where Your Girth Is

I really enjoyed this Morning Edition story on "Prospect Theory," or the idea that loss aversion can be an effective motivator in goals related to health improvement like weight loss and smoking cessation:

"What we know about incentives is that people work a lot harder to avoid losing $10 than they will work to gain $10," explains Ayres. "So something that's framed as a loss is really effective at changing behavior."

Related to that question I was asked at Macworld: I wonder if a gym membership might be even more motivating if you received a daily email updating you on the wasted dollars you'd spent by not working out in the last n days.

When I started paying most of my own college tuition, I remember realizing that every class I skipped was equivalent to throwing away about a day and a half of the money I'd earned from waiting on tables. It was very motivating for me, and I started missing a lot fewer classes as a result.

Lecter's picture

StickK.com does loss aversion

http://StickK.com is exactly that. You sign up, make commitments, have a friend verify, and then put your money where your mouth is.

If you have trouble meeting commitments, this website may be able to help. You choose what the commitment is (say, exercising five times a week for the next twelve weeks). You then add supporters/friends/referees to help verify that actually do these things. You then (optionally) send money to the website.

The idea is that you regularly check in and mark the commitments as completed when they are done. If you specified that a friend has to verify that you did actually do what you committed to do, then they need to go to the website and affirm as well. If the above doesn't take place (they do allow a small grace period), then whatever money you put into the system gets donated to the charity of your choice. The twist is that the charity can be one that you don't support (or that you hate). You can even have the money sent to a person that you hate (talk about motivation!).

And of course, if you (and your referee) mark everything completed on time, then your money is returned. If I get my money back, I plan to use it as "found" money, and spend it on something to reward myself with.

So, if you have trouble making commitments to your commitments, this sounds like a fun/tricky way to motivate yourself to get things done. And if you still fail, at least a charity (or enemy) benefits!

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with StickK, nor do I gain any benefits if you use it. I just thought it might be a cool tip/trick to share.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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