Motivation First, Measurement Second

Activity drives results. Everybody knows this. The problems start when we recognize there are more than one activity and more than one result. Which ones are we after? More importantly, why?

When we’re trying to help people achieve a goal, one of the first things we should do is make sure the goal is one they actually want to achieve. Motivation counts.

After we have identified motivation, then we can turn to measurement. What are the steps to reach the goal? How will we know if we’re succeeding or failing?

There’s little point to measurement without motivation beyond making people feel bad. Motivate first, measure second. If the “why” isn’t mutual, we shouldn’t be surprised when the results are weak.

Exercise example: Habit guru Charles Duhigg recently spent time with an up-and-coming actor. The actor wanted to get buff to audition for superhero movies and Don Saladino, the guy who gets people buff to play superheroes in movies, helped out. Saladino’s biggest point – anyone can technically get ripped, but why would just anyone actually want to? Without motivation, none of the measurements matter. He doesn’t work with people until they’ve figured out a goal they actually want to achieve. Motivation first, measurement second.

Financial planning example: if a person can’t sleep at night thinking about how they’ll pay for college for their kid, all while retirement seems too far away to fret over, their plan needs to prioritize college saving over retirement saving. Yes, it may require the planner to educate them to see if it’s logical or not to have that belief and fear, but the planner must respect the motivation before they assert the measurement if their advice and guidance are going to have any hope of working.

Motivation first, measurement second.

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