In a previous article, we stressed the fact that the primary focus of the Cognitive Social Web is not your life and your personal information, but you as a person and what you can come up with to contribute to the global edifice of mankind. We talked about a project-driven Internet, and emphasized on the fact that it all starts with personal motivation.
In my experience, the hardest part about motivation is to keep it: passed the initial enthusiasm, how do you maintain this driving force long enough to achieve your goals?
We have this vision of an Internet that not only provides you with technical resources and knowledge for your projects, but also leverages your own personal psychology to keep you focused on the goals you set to yourself. Motivation reinforcement is at the core of the Cognitive Social Web.
First, let’s get back on the concept of motivation. I want to propose a simple yet powerful model that I personally use to hack my own motivation in my everyday life: the MRT cycle…
The MRT cycle
Considering I am motivated when I initiate a project, I start by breaking my goal down into actionable steps, and define a set of simple rituals for getting these steps done. For example, a current goal of mine is to become fluent in Mandarin Chinese. A first step in my plan is to have a first contact with the 3000 most common words in this language. For that, I use a web application called iKnow, that tremendously helps me optimize my learning. Every morning, during my 40-minute commute, I do a learning session on the iKnow iPhone app. I don’t have to think about doing that, I just do it whenever I’m alone in the subway. That’s a ritual.
Little by little, these rituals produce measurable results, that I can track. Tracking is key. iKnow does a great job at tracking my results, without me having to do anything but studying. When it comes to my workout, I just use a pen and a little notebook to record my progress.
By tracking the correct data and analyzing it in regards to my initial goal, I produce an objective feedback on what I achieved so far. If it’s good, I keep going! If it’s bad, it means I have room for improvement and it’s time to rethink my method. In any case, this feedback by itself is here to reinforce my initial motivation, thus closing the loop.
I like to call this model the MRT cycle (Motivation - Rituals - Tracking).
If this model make sense to you, try to apply it in one of your projects and give us your feedback! Now, let’s go a bit further…
Make it social!
Though the MRT cycle is a powerful tool by itself, it becomes much more efficient if you add a fourth element around it: your social graph. With the rise of Facebook, Twitter and others, social networks have become a tremendously important part of our lives. We share a lot of information and spend a lot of time on them (sometimes too much).
You can (and should) tap into the power of your social environment to reinforce every step of the MRT cycle. Inspiring role-models or cheering friends can increase your motivation. Peer pressure regarding group-based rituals will ensure you actually attend them. Competitive social games are a form of tracking that has much more impact than raw data.
A web-driven motivation
If setting goals, tracking results and sharing them with friends was a hassle 10 years ago, now with the rise of the social web and mobile technology it has never been easier. More and more we see gadgets, Internet apps and networks that aim to help you change your behavior and focus on your goals in specific areas. For most of the web innovation comes from the USA, a country famous for its problem with obesity, it’s no surprise that many of these apps focus on health care and exercise.
Here are some examples :
- Keas (http://keas.com) : a social game where you compete against your coworkers to develop healthy habits.
- Strava (http://www.strava.com) : a social network for cyclists that helps you track your performance and compete against your friends and yourself.
- LoseIt! (http://www.loseit.com) : a social network that helps you define your diet goals, track your food and exercise, and ultimately loose weight.
If you use the Internet and your social graph to reinforce your motivation, tell us more about that, we’re interested! What tools do you use? What are the results? What did you learn in the process?
All these initiatives that use the power of the Internet in a meaningful way are very inspiring for us, and we think there is still a lot to do to help people focus on their projects and achieve their goals.
We believe that, just like social transformed content consumption in a meaningful way, motivation reinforcement will bring content creation to a whole new level. That’s what the word “cognitive” stands for in Cognitive Social Web. This Internet we envision is all about project-based platforms, and motivation reinforcement will be one of their core features.
Follow Alexis Taugeron on Twitter (@ataugeron)