Money Where Your Mouth Is

On January 30, 2012 by Eddie

This post comes from the random category, but I stumbled across something thanks to Tim Ferris (@tferriss) that I thought was worth sharing.

It’s the beginning of the year, and after the holidays and a few months of not working out I feel really out of shape and ready to kick things back into gear. Of course, millions of people do that every January. By February most of these people are the customers every gym is looking for; never actually showing up to use the equipment, but too guilty to cancel their membership. Been there? Me too. But there’s an interesting trend that’s turning this fact on its head.

I read last year about a Boston-based gym who was turning membership fees backwards. If you worked out regularly, you paid nothing. If you signed up, and stopped coming to the gym, the fees started kicking in. This way, when you’re not working out and you see the draft on your credit card, you’re not mad at the gym, you’re mad at yourself and motivated to get back to your goals. I thought it was a cool concept. Basically, they’re applying the rules of economics to gym membership, motivating people with what they really care about to keep them healthy.

Now, there is a new web-based version of this same system, Basically, you sign up and commit to some sort of pact, that you’re going to work out a certain number of days a week. You download the app on your iPhone, check in when you get to the gym, and it registers your workout. Here’s the catch – if you don’t meet your goal, you give up cash. You set the amount, but the default is $10 per week for missed time. If you’re anything like me, that sounds like a pretty motivating system. And it gets better. That cash that is collected from the slackers gets distributed to the people who did work out that week. So you can actually make money if you stick to your plan. Pretty cool, huh?

Here’s what it got me thinking, though… What if I applied this same concept in other areas of life? What would happen if I tied my personal prayer time, or songwriting time, or time spent caring for my wife and kids, to my wallet? What if there were financial consequences for not doing the hard work of reaching my goals for personal growth? I’d probably lose a lot of the excuses, and things would look very different in my daily schedule.

And of course that leads to another question… What does that say about me? What does it say about me that I’m more motivated by losing money than I am losing time with God, or my family, or doing some of the things that help stretch and grow me as a person? That’s a question I don’t really want to answer out loud, but it’s worth pondering.

What about you? What area of life do you need a little extra boost to get motivated?

One Response to “Money Where Your Mouth Is”

  • great post man! I have a tough time staying motivated on a workout plan, and I think it would be awesome to have the fees reversed. Can’t say that I would be very happy to lose money because I suck at staying on the plan, but it would rock to get cash for actually sticking to it!

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