Update on StickK

15 March 2010

Three weeks ago, I signed up for stickK.com, a website that helps you keep goals and commitments by asking you to pledge to pay money if you don’t do what you say you’ll do. I blogged about it shortly after I joined.

I pledged to stickK that I would exercise four times a week for 12 weeks. Any week in which I failed to exercise four times I would pay $5 to an “anti-charity” I selected. (That would be an organization that I don’t want to give money to.) At the time I signed up, I gave them a credit card number.

I figured it would be motivating. I was right—I have exercised four times each of the last three weeks because there’s no way that group is going to get my money. But an interesting side effect I’ve noticed is that each of those weeks I’ve exercised no more four times. Somehow it’s had a demotivating effect for doing any extra exercise.

I don’t know why. Once I’ve reached the goal the incentive to do more vanishes. I guess that’s a product of using a negative to motivate me. Hmmm. If I were being paid $5 to exercise four times a week, I wonder if I’d do more than four. I would if I were being paid more for extra effort, I’m sure.

I’ll report back on whether this trend continues and what I make of it. I’d love to hear if anyone has any theories.

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This intrigues me.

I wonder if perhaps the root of the motivation is to make sure that something doesn’t happen (i.e., that the anti-charity doesn’t get your money). Because the goal is to make sure that doesn’t happen, you do exactly what it takes to accomplish that goal: exercise 4 times each week.

In this situation, the focus of the motivation isn’t on the exercising (or on forming a consistent pattern, like it is with Don’t Break The Chain), it’s on ensuring the anti-charity doesn’t get your money. So you’re doing precisely what you aimed for & once that goal is met, there’s no additional motivation because, again, the motivation isn’t about the exercise at all, but about preventing the money transfer to that group.

(Acknowledging I could be completely wrong, but enjoying the chance to ponder this out loud!) :)

Marissa Bracke 03/16/2010 05:56 PM

I think you’ve hit it right on the head, Marissa. I exercise four times and check it off my list. Or, earlier in the week, I think, “I don’t have to exercise today because I still have three more days.”

Thanks for your comment!

Janine Adams 03/17/2010 10:24 AM

Don’t know if I have any theories but I recently promised to try and drink at least eight glasses of water a day. No $ involved. I’ve managed to get in eight glasses 14 days this month and I usually stop at eight. I’m on pace to get in nine today. We’ll see…If it’s any consolation, the water chugging is not such a chore anymore.

'Drea 03/17/2010 06:53 PM

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