How We Reward Consistent Behavior

We’ve recently launched a new feature on the web version of our site: streak medals!

One big challenge that we’ve heard all the time is that the motivation for any project or goal tends to fade away over time. We’ve heard the story time and time again: someone sets out for a big, ambitious goal, gets 30% of the way there, hits a few speed bumps, and all of a sudden the goal has been on ice for 18 months.

This type of scenario is so common because it’s human! We all do this when we setup for ambitious projects that quickly start to feel intimidating at the first sign of trouble.

Climbing a mountain is the best analogy for how consistent effort on a big project can get you to the top!

Do you want to write a book? Build a software product? Become a marathoner? Become a zen-like meditator? Learn a second language? All these are great goals a lot of us would like to do. Many of us have started one or more of these. And maybe it’s gone well for the first 8 weeks. Or 15. Or 30. But at some point you start to get discouraged, things get busy, and you are starting to slack off.

We can all probably recognize a goal of ours that has died this way, or went into a long hibernation. It’s natural, especially if it’s a goal where the immediate benefits or progress are tough to recognize, even if the long term benefits (provided we could stick with it) are immense.

One of our central beliefs at WeAchieve is that consistent long-term progress is a path toward accomplishing great things. All the goals we mentioned take some time, but can easily be done if the effort is consistent. Your effort may not lead to visible improvements each week though, and that’s a big part of the problem. It can take months to see meaningful progress, by which point you’ve already become disillusioned and given up.

Simply put, you’ll face points of stagnation as you chase any big goal, which can quickly demotivate even the strongest-willed among us.

And with that, let’s talk about streak medals!

Introducing Streak Medals

WeAchieve is based around setting and hitting weekly targets for the habits and routines you care most about. And as we noted, this works well until you keep regularly hitting your target and you wonder what is it all for. Now we have an answer for you: streak awards!

A bronze streak that I have going for taking a daily thankfulness minute almost every day.

If you hit your streak for 10 straight weeks, you’ll be awarded one bronze medal and your streak counter will become bronze to reflect your commitment to consistency. At 20 weeks, you’ll be upgraded to silver, and at 30 weeks you’ll be upgraded to gold! We have a few more beyond that, but will keep those secret for the time being.

At 20 consecutive weeks, you’ll start earning silver medals!

These awards don’t stick around forever though: they go away if you break the streak! So you could be at 4 gold medals one week, but will drop to 3 gold medals the next week if you miss one of your weekly targets.

Naturally, we do show you your historical medals, so you’ll still know and be able to see how many medals you had six months ago and, if you do fall off track, use that as motivation to get back to your previous levels of consistency.

My bronze medal count over time. This will be a focus now though to keep this increasing!

So get out there and grab those medals!

Why Seeking Medals Will Make You Better

While the mechanism for these medals is fairly simple, we’ve designed this to supplement your motivation to accomplish big long-term goals (e.g. write the book, build the product, run the marathon, learn the language). Your main source of motivation will come from the end product – that’s why you are starting your effort in the first place!

But we know first-hand that the journey there can be long, hard, and at times demoralizing. You will hit hurdles: life gets busy, progress seems slow, the work is less enjoyable, the list could go on. It’s at these points where consistency in effort  is needed the most. This is more-or-less the premise of WeAchieve: consistent effort accomplishes big things. But looking at any week in isolation misses the broader point. This is often where other habit tracking stops and one of the reasons that it isn’t all that effective.

Medals in essence provide a second source of motivation that can live alongside the motivation provided by the end product. Specifically, it’s motivation that transforms a consistent weekly routine (sounds boring, and can be) into a game with rewards to earn. This alleviates one of the biggest downsides of big, long-term goals: they can quickly become intimidating rather than motivating).

Given all this, here’s our advice for the next long-term goal you tackle. Let’s say it is to write a book. That’s the long-term goal. Resist the urge to set a specific end date or a specific word count as your end goal. These types of New Year Resolution-style goals will quickly scare you as soon as you fall off track.

A better way to execute on this goal is then to set a weekly target for your effort. This is much more controllable than your output over a long time period. Maybe that goal is to write for 3 hours a week, or write 1000 words each week. That may not seem like much, but if you actually executed on that, you’d have a book done in about a year! Point being: small-but-consistent effort quickly adds up to big things.

Once you get going, our medal system will give you an added incentive when you hit the hurdles. They’ll remind you of the effort you’ve put in already and help prevent you from missing a week and slowly letting the project fade away.

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