Social Motivation

Boss, Gadgets
Comments Off on Social Motivation

I have written about this subject before but it’s hard to get motivated to get out of the rut sometimes. Couch is more comfortable than pavement, large cheese pizza is more filling than a salad and bad behavior is so easy while good behavior is almost a mental game of wits. Getting stuck in a pattern of bad behavior makes it more and more difficult to deal with problems and solve the growing pile of crap to deal with (or at times to even know which pile of problems is contributing to bringing you down).

This is why I love Nike+ stuff. I’m training for an Ironman race and I live in Florida which has the same average temperature as the surface of the sun 9 months of the year. Getting out there and training (considering the other 26 hours of the day are packed with work, clients, family) is not easy and Nike+ does a good job of doing two things:

1) Letting me know when I haven’t done enough

2) Giving me a goal to work towards

I know this doesn’t exactly have a very profitable “let’s turn it into an IT business” line to it but stuff doesn’t really exist in a vacuum when it comes to business – if your mind and body aren’t in it then there is really only so far you can push yourself and those around you to the next level.

First the basics… Nike+ is free, it has a free iPhone / Android app and there is other stuff you can buy like Nike Run Watch, Nike FuelBand, etc. I have pretty much all of them and use my Nike Fuelband the most because.. well.. I sit all day. When 7-8 PM comes around and I haven’t reached half my activity goal for that day it’s so much easier to get out for a 5K than if I didn’t have a constant reminder of my failure on my wrist. It also makes it easier to not defer the activity to tomorrow – every time you reach your goal the site gives you another badge and tracks your streak. Sometimes when I really, really, really do not want to do anything the streak pushes me to actually go do something.


You set your own goals (activity levels, calories, etc) and all it does is track when you are active. Some days you feel like you’ve been running around a lot but the numbers don’t lie. Either you did something or you didn’t.

As far as the runs go.. that’s the really awesome part. First, you need to have the iPhone/Android or Nike GPS Run watch – It plots not just your distance and calories but also location, activity level, etc. Look at the half marathon I ran over the weekend – see the orange spots – that’s where my pace was terrible – mile 6-7 was really rough:


Even better, every time you complete a run you get some really inspirational stuff from a pro athlete. The day I crushed my 5K record I got a message from Tim Tebow. While this may sound kind of worthless to a cynic, when you’re gasping for air and sweating like crazy it’s nice to hear some encouragement.

And if you’re a competitive a-hole that doesn’t like to lose.. well, this is the best part: You can compete with your friends. You don’t want to be on the bottom of that list.


Finally, the swag. You get points (“Nike Fuel” which as far as I can tell is an arbitrary activity measurement) and the more points you get the more swag you get. Things like badges, progress levels, distance, points, etc.. all lead you to getting more stuff.


No better feeling than syncing your phone / fuel band / etc and seeing progress – visually – of what you have accomplished. If you have a somewhat manic personality that drives you to obsess over meaningless stuff, this is for you.

So what?

It’s hard to get motivated.

Having been fat (and obese) for most my life I know (unfortunately) how delays in physical activity compound all the other problems. Let’s face it – Exercise is not necessary (you need water and food), it’s ridiculously easy to quit and you immediately feel better when you’re not getting physically strained.

Finally, there is no direct or immediate ROI on it – if you’re looking to lose weight get ready to starve and break your ass in the gym. It can take days/weeks/months/years to see significant difference and there is no challenge – short of paying for a gym membership or having a personal trainer calling you to sell you more sessions. The incentive is obviously to look better and feel better but when you’re too tired to even get off the couch what’s more likely to happen?

Nike+ flips this mentality by giving you something that always shows you where you stand, where your friends are and you get immediate feedback. It may not be much and it may not be meaningful but it works. Those of us that grew up playing video games are well aware of the desire to hit the high score even though it has no tangible value. But if it produces motivational long term results… isn’t it worth it?