Customers Want You to Motivate Them

I know what to do, I just can't make myself do it.

Eat less. Move more. Learn a language. Write those thank you notes. Take the medications as prescribed. Finally learn Javascript. The world is full of the stuff we know we should do. And we know how much easier things would be if we could just want to do them.

And people spend billions on all kids of technology to help make them want to do stuff.

  • step counters
  • smart watches
  • calorie counters
  • AI nutrition coaches
  • budgeting apps
  • language learning apps
  • online content courses
  • MOOCs
  • mediation apps
  • therapy chatbots
  • inbox zero
  • getting things done apps
  • house decluttering books

People aren't buying these things because they want information
(they know how to google).

They buy these things because they want motivation.

The Problem for Businesses

How do we engage customers and employees?

Technology has 2 parts:

  1. The "thing" you make (product, content, app, video, course, etc.)
  2. The person using it.

You need to help people change their behavior if your business goals require them to use your products, interact with your content, open your apps, respond to your chatbot, or anything that requires them to do something they weren't already doing before.

And sometimes this problem is misdiagnosed.

They say... Reality
CTO We made a great product, but they don't use it enough. If they just used it enough, they'd see how valuable it is. People don't want to use your product? You have a Motivation Design problem.
CEO Our churn rate is too high. Customers not sticking around?You have a Motivation Design problem.
Engineer I made a feature that solves their problem, but the onboarding sucks. Need people to learn why they should care about your feature? You have a Motivation Design problem.
Technologist If people would just adopt this new type of system, then we could solve a whole societal problem. Want to change people's long-term habits? You have a Motivation Design problem.

These can be daunting problems.

Unless you understand the psychology of what motivates people.

Motivation is what gives behavior energy and direction.

45 years of evidence-based answers

From a scientific perspective, motivation is one of the most interesting and hotly-researched topics in psychology and cogntive neuroscience. And for 45 years, the most practical and empircal approach to motivating people has been Self-Determination Theory.

Where some approaches seek to nudge, trick, or coerce people into engaging in desired behavior, Self-Determination Theory has shown conclusively that these tactics have a huge downside if you want people to value the behavior you're asking them to do.

People are not only more or less motivated, as most motivation theories have suggested, but they can be motivated by intrinsic and by varied types of extrinsic motivations, often simul- taneously. SDT research details the functional differences in both the quality of behavior and psychological health and well-being that follow from behaviors that are to different degrees underpinned by [various motives]. - Drs. Richard Ryan and Ed Deci

In short, motivation is so interesting because when we want to people do stuff, convincing them to do it is much easier than changing their genes or altering their brain chemistry.

The longer you want people to engage with your products or content,
the more motivation matters.

The more you want people to value your product,
the more motivation matters.

The better you want people's lives to be as a result of using your product,
the more motivation matters.

Lessons from Self-Determination Theory

How you say things matters.

The style in which you deliver information or tasks has a huge impact on how motivated someone will be after receiving that message. Habitry can assess your content and product for how supportive or thwarting your messaging will be to customers.

Motivating people is more than carrots and sticks.

Motivtion is a complex emotion with many antecedents in the social environment. In many situations, rewards and threats can have the opposite of their intended effect.

Motivation varies by amount and type.

Motivation is more complicated than a light switch and why we choose to engage in an activity will impact the quality of that engagement. Habitry can teach you how this will impact customers and how to avoid the pitfalls of low quality motivation.

Motivation Quality trumps Motvation Quantity.

The longer people engage with your product ot service, the more their motives will impact their engagement with it. Habitry can help you find out why people are working with you give concrete steps to improve Motivation Quality.


The Blog

Practical Motivation Science

Articles, tips, research, reports, thought experiments, and wild speculation about applying behavior change science to the practical problems facing product managers, designers, and anyone making stuff for health care, consumer financial products, pharma, insurance, or education.

The Journal

The Motivator

An Annual Motivation Science Journal for anyone who helps, coaches, or trains people. In The Motivator, we talk about the newest, most important research about why people try to change and why it’s so easy to mess up. These research summaries have more of the evidence meat and less of the jargon gristle. You also get over 100 evidence-based, practical tips. Assimilate what scientists know about motivation. Apply it to real people. Anyone who helps, coaches, or guides people will benefit from understanding why people do what they do.

We publish quarterly previews exclusively in Lift the Bar Magazine

The Podcast

the bettercast

Coach Stevo's labor of love, the bettercast is an audio exporation about what it means to get better at things.

Resources for Health Coaches

As part of our partnership with Lift The Bar, Habitry makes resources specifically for the needs of health coaches who want to motivate their cleints. For even more awesome coaching content, check out

We Make Communities

A 200-page ebook for coaches need more clients and a better way to keep their existing clients on track. Coach Stevo walks you through using the most powerful forces in social psychology to get more results for more clients without marketing or selling anything.

Fitness Starter Kit

A 50-page guide designed to get you started in Habit-Based Coaching. Learn all about the science, stories, tips and tricks of the Habitry System and get 24 health & fitness habit examples, enough to run your own year-long habit-based behavior change program.

Coaching Blog

We have 300+ of articles about coacing, behavior change, motivation, and habit formation specfically for health coaches.