Competitive Motivation


This is a small confession on how petty I can be sometimes. I figure we can all be a bit petty sometimes, and I try not to be, but if I’m going to be petty it may as well be something that I can hide and confess in an anonymous blog rather than hurt someone.

I started a motivational group for people trying to loose weight, maintain weight or otherwise achieve their health goals. The common thread in the group is that we all had health goals that we had trouble maintaining. That we knew how to maintain them, but we simply failed the consistency check needed to maintain them. We are people that are good at making plans, and executing them for a few weeks or months, but then for one reason or another we get bored with the plan, or sabotage the plan, or do something that basically screws up the plan and rather than picking up and dusting off we wallow, let ourselves fall apart until enough time has past that we must make another plan.

I called the group the wagon jumpers. The idea of the group was to have everyone on the thread listed who is participating, the only requirement of the group was for each person to check into the group before Saturday of the week (Sunday – Saturday) and if someone hadn’t checked in then everyone in the group was to send them a positive and polite e-mail to encourage them to come back.

I made two errors when I created the group.

1. I assumed everyone who joined was as serious about beating this consistency issue as I was.
2. I did not set a participation limit on the group.

The result was that I ended up with over 50 participants. This meant that I had to do a whole lot of work when I would send out 2-day reminders, at least half of the people were not posting. And when the “Sorry we missed you last week” type notes went out I’m pretty sure that no one besides myself was sending them. I basically became the only administrator for what was supposed to be a cooperative group. People started complaining about the size about how much “work” it was to post once a week on “such” a long thread and I became very resentful of a lot of the participants.

The good news is that I did have some cooperative minded people in the group and when I decided to cap participation I got a lot of support and I now have a good group of people approaching a total of no more than 30 who post regularly and are supportive of each other without to much encouragement from me.

Here’s the petty part. I had one participant who was a pain in the butt in the sense that she complained a lot and did nothing constructive in the group. I was happy to see her out of the group. I always had to remind her, she resented the reminding but then also would get mad if I didn’t. Eventually she left the group and went and started her own group.

The nice part of me should say “good for her, glad she found something that worked for her”… but part of me is really sort of snide that she couldn’t contribute to my thing but had to do her own thing. I should be happy for her, but I’m sort of not. Also her group is very much about her setting strict challenges for everyone in her group and has no collaboration. I don’t like people that need to be in control of other people to be happy.

Today I’m happy, I read though her threads to see how many of her participants are sticking with her, and I’m happy that people are getting fed up with her and are leaving. I guess it does two things for me, first it shows me that there will always be some drop outs in any group like this, and second that people do seem to like to have their own agency more than being bossed around.


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