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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.

thrashingstick's picture

stickk.com actually works.

I didn't think it would but it does. I took out a contract on myself to get out of my apartment by 9 AM every day cause I haven't been getting into the office by 10 AM for the last few months. Mainly the reason I didn't get to work on time was because I have no real consequences one way or another. So no matter when I got up, I kept ending up with leaving the apartment after 10.

To be honest, I still don't have that strong of a motivation or desire to get to work earlier.. but now that I have something I love on the line, I actually get off my butt and get to work at a reasonable time.(I added a twist and put down the cost of my new trench coat so that I would have to return the coat if I failed the contract and my money went to charity.) So I was applying the loss aversion theory unintentionally.

Anyhow, its been working for me so far. Maybe I will extend this to something harder like getting to the gym 4 times a week.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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