Would you bet against yourself to get things done? 💸

IH tribe, I summon your knowledge.

While talking with other makers about productivity I came up with a service idea and I'd like to hear your opinions on it.

Let's call it "Reward as a Service":

Set a goal. Set a deadline and pledge an amount. If you complete the goal before the deadline, you get your money back as a "reward". If you don't, you don't get it back.

This adds immediate consequences to procrastinating on your goal and an immediate "reward" to achieving your goal. Put both together and you get a motivational kick to push you to complete your goals.

A key point is that when you complete the goal you would have to prove it to me with a photo, screenshot, or link. And only goals that can be clearly proven would be valid, to eliminate the temptation of cheating.

For example:

  • I bet $100 that I will ship by October 15th, and I'll prove it with a link to my live product.
  • I bet $20 that I will lose 2kg and weight 84Kg by November 1st, and I'll prove it with a photo of my weight displayed on the scale.
  • I bet $40 that I will work 20h this week, and I'll prove it with a screenshot of RescueTime.

Any thoughts on this? Is it a dumb idea or does it have potential?

(if this resonates with you and would like to give it a try if it becomes a real thing, I've just created a waiting list)

  1. 2

    Just take all my money now... I was born wearing the procrastination Jeans.

  2. 2

    It's a nice idea if I am getting the money that is not mine :D
    No, I am joking, if it's there and working, then it is a good idea.
    From my own point of view, I would rather put the cash in my website.
    Also, a general question, how do you plan to make money from that?

    1. 1

      The revenue would come from the "bets" of the users who fail to accomplish their goal.

      1. 2

        Oh didn't think of that, why don't you make that you take a % of it and you put remaining money aside and then user has to make an even harder bet with double or nothing to take it all minus your % in first bet. Just putting my poker hats on :D

        1. 1

          Ha, nice. That could be something, I take note! Thanks.

  3. 2

    I like it, if you build it, I can recommend it to my clients (deprocrastination.co). Currently, I link them to Stickk or Beeminder - both work on the basis of punishment

    1. 2

      Thanks Vita! That would be great, I've been following your Deprocrastination blog for a while now (love your stick-man style). And Beeminder is great, I'm using it myself.

  4. 2

    Hey Aleix, a pretty good idea. I think there is a pretty popular website (Stickk) that does this.

    1. 3

      StickK also allows you to put money in line to commit to a goal. But Reward as a Service would be different in two ways:

      1. In Reward as a Service you get rewarded by getting your money back when you complete your goal. In StickK, you get punished by paying when you fail. In psychology, rewards are considered more motivating than punishments, so at least in theory Reward as a Service could be more motivating.
      2. In StickK you or a friend are responsible for declaring if you've attached the goal or not. This makes it tempting to either lie or to beg your friend for forgiveness. In Reward as a Service, an agent (me or an assistant) would declare if you've attached your goal based on the proof you submit. It's cheat-proof. And when you know that there's no way out, it really pushes you to do the thing.

      Thanks for the comment! Appreciated.

      1. 3

        rewards are considered more motivating than punishments

        That goes against what I've heard about loss aversion. Is there a difference / another area of research that I'm not aware of? I'm definitely not an expert in this field, it just went counter to what I remember from psych 101 and readings I've done about behavioral economics

        1. 1

          Both loss aversion/punishment and reward are very powerful (eg. Beeminder is built on loss aversion and their users love it). Some people prefer one method over the other.

          But broadly speaking, rewards make you feel better about yourself compared to punishment, making it better in the long term. It's true though that it depends a lot on the situation (for kids, rewarding is more effective than punishment, but for adults it depends on the specifics).

          And this is just my own experience, but as an accountability buddy, I've seen that rewarding good behavior is clearly more effective than punishing bad behavior. When you reward the other with praise they stay with you and do things to get more. When you punish them by scorning them, they can just walk away because it's the easiest way to avoid that punishment again in the future.

          1. 1

            One more point - sorry, you got me thinking - is that Reward as a Service could be considered an hybrid of reward+loss aversion, depending on how you look at it.

            On one side you're getting back the money you pledge (reward), on the other that money was yours to start with so you're getting things done to avoid losing it (loss aversion).

            Any thoughts on this?

            1. 2

              I see what you mean now, with positive reinforcement. Thinking about this as training makes it a little easier to see where you're coming from. I'm not quite sure how to make this a hybrid, since the service you described is structured as losing their investment. Maybe if you gave them some small amount of interest on it (that you'd get naturally from keeping it in a bank)? "Everyone puts the money in, and the people who follow their plan get to keep both their investment and the interest"

              1. 1

                That would be interesting. For now I'll keep it simple but I'll take note of this idea, maybe it could be implemented later. Thanks!
                (if you're interested on how it turns out, you can join the waiting list))

  5. 1

    So this idea (Reward as a Service) evolved into Write or Die. It's a "bet against yourself" commitment device for bloggers. All feedback is welcomed!

  6. 0

    This comment was deleted 4 months ago.

    1. 1

      It's not about earning money, it's about putting yourself in a "do or die" situation to push yourself to get things done. A procrastinator might want to try it to stop procrastinating on an important goal since getting back the money can be a strong motivation that he didn't have before.

      To pool the losers and giving it to the winners would be muddy territory because it would be kind of gambling, as you said. I wouldn't go in that direction.

      Thanks for the input!

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