How Legos Can Motivate You to Health and Fitness Success

On my long runs, I always plug in a good audiobook. Fortunately, my local library and Audible.com has afforded me this privilege at rather low costs. Anyway, my book this week is called The Upside of Irrationality by one of my favorite behavioral economists, Dan Ariely. The book is all about how the human brain is totally irrational but in predictable ways. This example is about motivation. Stay with me here, it will connect. Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

Dan created an experiment with building Bioncles (lego action figures). Participants were going to be paid for every bioncle figurine they successfully built. $2 for the first one and 11 cents less for each subsequent bioncle. A simple set up, right? Well, there were two groups. In one group, the participant's bioncle would be deconstructed by the experimenter and then rebuilt. In the other group, the participant was able to see the set of bioncles that he had created. Both groups were paid the same amount per creation. The group that was able to see their progress completed an average of 10.2 figurines, and the group whose figurines were deconstructed in between completed an average of 7.2. The group with deconstructed figurines lacking the meaning attached to even a menial task like building bioncles required a median level of pay 40 percent higher than that of the other group. So what does this mean?

The visibility of progress with the group whose creations remained intact created meaning for the participants. I know it sounds crazy, but something as small as being able to visualize progress when building toys made a 30% difference in productivity. So how can this be used in your health and fitness journey?

A goal like building muscle or losing weight can seem far off leading to the "meaning" from this kind of intention to wear off in the moment. One way to increase your motivation in your daily habits or daily progress is to create a way to make it visual and add some meaning. This can be as simple as crossing off Xs on a calendar to keep you on your workout program (see my  Don't Break the Chain article) or using popsicle sticks in two separate jar - pounds lost and pounds to go - to keep track of your weight loss. I know it sounds crazy, but little tangible reminders like this can actually create the meaning that we need on our journey to health and fitness success!

The Upside of Irrationality (Enhanced Edition): The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home