Tag Archives: motivation

Public Shaming is The Best Motivator

It´s like if your annoying roommate was a fitness tracking app.


Here is app I heartily endorse.

Cakewalk is step-tracking app which nags to you and if you do not reach your goals it will publicly shame you on Twitter. As majority of New Year resolutions will be broken sometime you need a little bit of tough love to stay on the course. Otherwise it is super simple: it will set the goals based on your daily average step count and then insults you if you don´t fulfill your goals.


Probably someone will get upset of this “mean” app. Well get away from your smartphone and just go walking.

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Winning Changes Nothing


“Now that I´ve won a slam, I know something that very few people on earth are permitted to know. A win doesn´t feel as good as a loss feels bad and the good feeling doesn’t last as long as the bad. Not even close.”
– Andre Agassi (in his book Open, telling about his feelings after winning a Wimbledon)

Andre Agassi´s book Open is probably one of the most inspirational book, I have ever read (and definitely the best sports autobiography). Mainly because he had a career of up-and-downs and he is honest in the book about what drove him to success. Although you can never truly understand a professional sports star if you are not one of them yourself, I found quite a lot of valuable lessons in his book. Especially his drive to win and not to lose was something that resonated strongly to me.

Writing a book was always a dream of mine. When I had finished my first book and was holding it in my hands, I didn´t feel anything. Same thing has happened quite often when I have accomplished goals I have set to myself. You are already looking for the next challenge.

We overestimate the amount of happiness that achieving the goals will bring. Winning a lottery causes a spike in happiness, but soon your overall well being is back to pre-win state.

Therefore you have to enjoy the journey to the goals, because that is the best part. I have been doing quite a lot of weightlifting lately and actually every time I have hit a new PR, it has felt easy. When I have tried to force the results, it has not worked out. The harder I train the better I get, but to achieve the best results I have to try and think less.

Life is about grueling exercise, which should lead to smooth execution. In Agassi´s book, he talks about insane conditioning workouts they are doing with his trainer Gil to get in the shape. Although those exercises were pure hell, sections explaining them in the book are the parts where the true love for the sports comes through. If you don´t enjoy training, you cannot reap the rewards either.

Also you have to be able to embrace the setbacks. Although during the times it might feel that world is collapsing, people have tremendous ability to rebound from even the most grueling situations. Agassi beat the odds many times in his career. Getting your ass kicked is the biggest motivator at least for me. You want to show that you can bounce back. And you want to kick some ass yourself.

Motivation is a key to winning. Andre Agassi explains quite vividly in his book by how his winning streak in 1995 was fueled by his grudge against Boris Becker. He had 26 game winning streak and beat Becker. However, his real opponent was actually Pete Sampras:

I’m 26-1, and I’d give up all those wins for this one. All that work and anger and winning and training and hoping and sweating, and it leads to the same empty disappointed feeling. No matter how much you win, if you’re not the last one to win, you’re a loser. And in the end I always lose, because there is always Pete. As always, Pete.”

After his loss to Pete Sampras, Agassi derailed with his game, took some crystal meth with assistant called “Slim” and fell eventually to 141 slot in the ranking. The anger was not enough motivation, but luckily he met Steffi Graff. That love fueled his comeback in 1999 and cemented Agassi´s legacy as one of the greatest tennis players ever. Not thinking about winning all the time, made him actually want to win more badly when it mattered. And win he did.

“I define success a lot differently, certainly than my father defined it for us. The two things that have given me most joy I have through tennis: my school for under- privileged kids in Las Vegas and my wife. Instead of a love-hate relationship, I had a hate-love relationship with tennis, but I am grateful that I survived to play long enough to appreciate.”

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Want To Change Your Habits? Just Go F*cking Do It

“Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.”

Charles Duhigg (from the Power of Habit)

How many times you have decided to start to lose weight?

Or stop procrastination?

Stop smoking?

Start exercising?

Be happier?

Eat more healthily?

Go travelling?

Cook more often?

Or try to update blog every day?

Quite often, I would say (especially for the last part)

Behavior change is difficult, although the components are simple. You have cue, such as feeling stressed out at work. You have routine, such as smoking to relieve that stress. And then you have reward, which is actually the break from your office desk. To succeed in habit change you should always change one variable at time. So that´s why eating a carrot or “smoking” your pen might work even better than nicotine patch in stopping smoking habit. You alter your routine, but keep cue and reward intact. To be honest though, the physical addiction to smoking makes it one of the trickiest habits to break so you might need the help of some nicotine products as well.

The main principle is still clear. You cannot start a new habit from the scratch. You have to build it upon your existing habits. Lack of this insight results that majority of habit-changing apps don´t really work.

“It is facile to imply that smoking, alcoholism, overeating, or other ingrained patters can be upended without real effort. Genuine change requires work and self-understanding of the cravings driving behaviours.” 

-Charles Duhigg

Cue-routine-reward is the technical side of habit change. Important bit is also the motivation and that is where there are major differences between people. Different things motivate us. I personally am motivated by competition (mostly in sports, but how I see it you can compete in everything). Some people are not motivated by it at all, but more driven by social doing together or sense of fulfillment (and other crap I don´t really care about). The lack of understanding of what motivates people is one of the main reasons why companies can´t keep their employees. We tend to generalize our own motivation to apply to other people as well, so leaders try incentivize and motivate people using quite limited amount of tools.

Money motivates as well to certain extend, but again you have to craft the habit-changing program well. Yearly raise motivates us generally less than getting bonuses throughout the year for good performance (as we humans are quite adaptable). For smoker the schemes where you either get financial rewards or get penalized for not reaching the goal have been proven to be effective in studies. The motivation difference in these two ways is subtle: gaining attracts people who love winning and keeping those who are afraid of losing. Both work well. Also money is never only money. It acts as a metaphor of the sweet triumph or a bitter loss. The strength is that you can put a monetary value to almost anything and it can symbolize the struggle and fight behind reaching your goal.

Tapping into this insight comes this new site with catchy title:

go do it

Go Fucking Do It.

The premise is simple. You set a goal, deadline, supervisor and the amount of money you give if you do no reach your goal. Not surprisingly if you lose that money to charity it reduces the effectiveness of your decision.

“If you want to do something that requires willpower—like going for a run after work—you have to conserve your willpower muscle during the day,” 

-Charles Duhigg


The site has a potential, but important thing is to have really sharp and understandable goals. For example getting gluten-free is easily attainable than getting a girlfriend as the former one is only up to you and has clearly identified steps. That you do not have girlfriend can be due to multiple variables, so you would have to fist prioritize those variables and start changing those one at a time.

I like the attitude of the site though. Quite often we should not overcomplicate things and just fucking do it.

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