26th February , 2014

The Motivation Equation

I'll be returning to Taiwan on Tuesday from a 3 week period travelling Malaysia and Singapore. I saw relatives who I haven't seen in years, ate great food and generally had a very good time, but... I've lost many of good habits that I had built up in Taiwan. Now that I'm returning to Taiwan I've got to get myself back into a good routine again and push forward with some of my goals. A few things that I need to tie up that I didn't finish before leaving Taiwan and the most pressing of which is to finish my portfolio site so I can start to begin freelancing seriously. The way I'm going to finish my site is by testing out some of the methods that I've learnt reading Nick Winter's The Motivation Hacker

There is one thing that I really should have put more emphasis on earlier, which is my personal site. I will aim to complete my personal site within 1 week of returning to Taiwan so this will be the 4th of March.

I've been reading Nick Winter's "The Motivation Hacker" recently and it's really resonated with me as there are many things in that book that I already do, as well as things that I would really want to try. I'm going to start analysing my goals using the Motivation equation. Then when I see there is a need to hack my motivation to produce results, I'll try out some of the methods that Nick has written about in his book.

Motivation = Expectancy * Value / Impulsiveness * Delay Nick remembers this as MEVID.

Motivation what you are aiming for, the feeling of passion, fire and drive.

Expectancy is the chance you will succeed. Higher expectancy = higher motivation.

Value is how rewarding or fun a task is. Higher value = higher motivation.

Impulsiveness is how easy you will get distracted. Higher impulsiveness = low motivation.

Delay is how far off the reward is. Higher delay = low motivation.

So for instance with my personal website:


My expectancy is high. I know I can succeed, but my expectations for my own personal website are also very high. I want to build a site I'm proud of, so this is not so easy as just building an ordinary website. The site being a collation of everything I've done, my writing and my portfolio is the first impression I'll give anyone when they enter my site.



My Value is also high. Making a great site is fun, it's rewarding and since it's my own site I get to play with any kind of designs or new technology I want.



Impulsiveness is high, because paid work is often more appealing to do than the opportunity to attract future work (as it's paying right now). Also things such as learning Chinese whilst in Taiwan have more of a immediate impact on my life, whereas this site may take weeks or months to get any attention or any measurable effect on life.



This leads me nicely onto Delay, because it may take several weeks or months to see any measurable effect, doing things that have more immediate effect feel more worthwhile doing.


Motivation = 78/78 = 1

1 must be around the middle for motivation, neither motivated nor unmotivated. I keep reminding myself it needs to be done, but I've been procrastinating about a year. Starting and then stopping. This time I'm going to hack both my Impulsiveness to ensure I get this done when I say it's going to be done. I'm going to do this with a few methods:

Pomodoro timer. I looked into this method before I left Taiwan. It's a very simple method of working for 25 minutes and then resting for 5 minutes. After 4 pomodoros (2 hours), you take a longer break of 15-30 mins.

Success spirals. I'm not sure if this is a terminology Nick himself came up with, but it's essentially just setting a daily task to do everyday with an end date. I've been doing this a lot such as pull ups when I go past the park and squats before a shower, although I never set a limit on it, which I probably should have as coming to Malaysia has damaged my expectancy a little.

All in all, I'm going to try improve my productivity by using motivation techniques, instead of relying on occasional bouts of natural motivation. I think through this constant self analysis I will also learn a lot about what I find interesting and what I want to do with my life. Self reflection is never a waste of time.