Motivating Yourself with Bee and Owl

January 06, 2016

“Light a fire under your own butt.”

That’s the motto of Beeminder. They’re a company that helps you stay motivated so that you can reach your goals. Beeminder tracks your progress, but more importantly when you fail to reach your goal for the day they punish you by charging your credit card.

Loss aversion is a strong motivator but boy does it sting! I much prefer the way of a certain green owl.

If you’ve ever used the language learning app Duolingo you’ll be well aware of her. That little green owl will do anything to make sure you train daily. She’ll email, message, notify, poke, peck and provoke. Recently, she tried something else.

The owl made me an offer. She said, “I’ll bet you 5 lingots (virtual currency) that you can’t maintain a 7 day streak. If you win I’ll give you 10, if you lose I get the 5.”

It may feel stupid making a virtual bet with a virtual owl but essentially it’s the same as the Beeminder model. The only difference is that with the bee the payoff is zero.

I’d always take the owl over the bee, but which one is a more effective motivator is another question altogether.