“Moderation in all things,” they say. That may keep a society together, but it’s not the protagonist’s job. The Motivation Hacker shows you how to summon extreme amounts of motivation to accomplish anything you can think of. From precommitment to rejection therapy, this is your field guide to getting yourself to want to do everything you always wanted to want to do.
I wrote this book in three months while simultaneously attempting seventeen other missions, including running a startup, launching a hit iPhone app, learning to write 3,000 new Chinese words, training to attempt a four-hour marathon from scratch, learning to skateboard, helping build a successful cognitive testing website, being best man at two weddings, increasing my bench press by sixty pounds, reading twenty books, going skydiving, helping to start the Human Hacker House, learning to throw knives, dropping my 5K time by five minutes, and learning to lucid dream. I planned to do all this while sleeping eight hours a night, sending 1,000 emails, hanging out with a hundred people, going on ten dates, buying groceries, cooking, cleaning, and trying to raise my average happiness from 6.3 to 7.3 out of 10.
Cofounder of CodeCombat and Skritter, experimenter of self, student of rationality, hacker of motivation. I wrote a book one summer in which I learned to skateboard and throw knives and lucid dream, trained for a marathon and other feats, learned a ton of Chinese, and more.
- **Expectancy**: Success Spirals, surround with motivated people, Mental Contrasting, guard against excessive optimism - **Value**: make it enjoyable, find meaning (connect with life goals), optimize energy (sleep, food), rewards - **Impulsiveness**: Precommitment, Burnt Ships, Goal Reminders, Timeboxing, Habits - **Delay**: break down goals, plan too optimistic
Sucess Spiral: start with tiny achievable goal, track success, never weasel out, increase goals Precommitment: choose now to limit options later - e.g. publicly announce goal, beeminder
# Choosing Goals
> It doesn’t make sense to run faster if you are running in the wrong direction.
- Imagine ideal day. What would you do, whom talk to, where go? Pick goals that bring that day closer - Make a list of crazy goal; rate on excitement, probability of success, time effort; pick most efficient ones - What would a different person in the same life do? (ignore sunk costs)
Planning Fallacy, too little motivation, unambitious goals
"I don't know where you get the spark to start, only how to fan it into an inferno once you have it."
2.5 This book has taught me some cool things that I will try to apply to my own life but it dragged and went back and forth with a lot of the points he was trying to make. It felt like a gigantic blog post, it could have been just a tad shorter. Cool lessons, though. I even took notes.
I read this book after watching Thomas Frank's video on the books that changed his life. There are definitely some good tips to 'hack' your motivation and do the things that you want, but I guess I just expected this book to read like a book, and not like an overly-extended article. Basically, this is a book on how the author hacked his own motivation and accomplished success in his professional, personal and creative life. And while he was accomplishing these feats, he wrote about the process of how he succeeded. Something that I really liked while reading the book is how he talks about achieving your goals and ambitions - even when you have a lot of them. I could relate in many ways, and I felt comforted in knowing that I'm not the only one struggling to make sense of my life while trying to do a lot of things at once.
The impact of this book strongly depends on the current phase of your professional/academic life, in my opinion. Fortunately (or unfortunately), I read it at the time I needed it the most. Being in a vicious loop of under-productivity and procrastination had bogged me down really bad, as a result of which I was under-performing and creating miserably less outcome from my days. The Motivation Hacker lit a spark in me that got me out of months of being in the bad loop and had a life changing impact on me. I would suggest you to save up this book for such a phase if it (I wish never) occurs in your life.
I give it only four stars only because it's written a little bit hard to read at some points BUT on the other hand it's an AWESOME book!!! I'm using the success spiral technique and the happiness meter and a couple more of the ideas presented in the book and I started lucid dreaming which I thinks is so cool. I also made a dream journal. Soooo THANK YOU NICK! Best 3$ spent EVER!
quantitative approach to motivation/goals inspired by behavioral economics/psychology
- 10-20% of good knowledge/inspiration on hacking motivation, the rest are worthless examples of implementation largely dominated by ego although could be helpful to someone without imagination - poor structure of the book - hopefully it's short read - rather silly approach to life in general ex. planning your day with granularity down to 5min
Read largely like a blog post - a couple of useful ideas, but it was certainly too little and too narrow to call it a 'book'. The material was largely self-congratulatory and self-promoting with no handling of potential difficulties and research on things that may work differently for other people.
I got a lot of value out of this, and have started using the techniques. Especially valuable, I think, was the way Nick writes about success spirals, and how you really have to apply this stuff in a way that will work — because faltering or half-assing it will just set you up for a harder time down the road if you try again.
Some of the book gets pretty braggy though, which personally I find *de*motivating. If that applies to you too, I'd skip or skim chapter 7 (where he tells an exaggerated tale of doing way more work than you or I probably think possible for ourselves right now), and chapter 8 (where he goes on about how he tried to learn a ton of things, and turns out they were all easy, especially with the help of all the smart, skilled friends who fell in his lap to teach him).
One thing that ate at me about Chapter 8: When talking about how he was reading a book on learning to lucid dream, he comments "even though it's harder than the author made it out to be—after all if he's writing a book on it, then he probably had an easier time learning it than most people will", with a footnote of "A reader pointed out that you should have the same skepticism towards this book and me. Well, this is ironic".
While I appreciate the self-awareness of this footnote, Nick doesn't do anything in this book to deal with this fact. He spends a lot of time bragging about how things are easy once you know how to do these hacks, while very much failing to address the issue that for some people, *this will not be easy*. It makes it much harder to be encouraged by this book, because in the back of my mind, he's sabotaged my Expectancy* by hinting that I probably will never be quite as good at it as he is.
(*Expectancy is one of the core influences on motivation outlined in the book — how likely you feel you are to succeed at a goal)
And finally, one thing I very much wish had been included in this book but was not: What to do with a failure at a goal. He goes to great lengths talking about how to build a successful Success Spiral, you must set goals for yourself that you can and will achieve, and that the consequences for messing that up are dire — you damage your Expectancy for a long time going forward. But inevitably we will fail at a goal at some point, and he leaves us with no hint as to what to do from there.
EDIT: After talking with Nick (I actually work with him, heh), he had a good response to the last point about what to do with failures: You must analyze them and figure out exactly why you failed, and then figure out ways to ensure that you won't fail in that way next time. This might mean changing the goal to allow for circumstances that you had not foreseen (making it a little more forgiving), or changing how you execute your goal. And once you've done that analysis, and you truly believe in your new approach, start fresh with the goal again. Embrace the idea that this won't be like last time, because you've done the work to prevent the ways you might fail, and this time you won't make the same mistakes again, because you've learned and improved from your mistake. And this time you must go into it with a renewed vigor — put twice as much effort into making sure you succeed. Putting in only slightly more won't increase your odds enough.
Doing this analysis and planning for next time, and going at it harder, will help make the goal more achievable, and recoup some of the Expectancy lost by the failure. If you can believe in your updated strategy for accomplishing it, then you can believe you'll succeed where you failed before. But this is not as effective as doing this pre-emptively, and there will be SOME Expectancy hit that you don't recover — so emphasize thinking about this beforehand as much as possible.
One minor example for me I've run into so far: I have a few goals to do a thing 6 out of 7 days a week. I got behind on one of them by skipping two days in a row out of a 14 day total (not technically failed, but below the average target rate) because I was putting the tasks off until late at night when the deadline loomed. So I adjusted to doing them early in the day so I didn't run that risk, and it's been much more reliable now. (This has had the side benefit of making me feel accomplished early in the day, which lingers throughout the rest of the day!)
With presumption that its a honest try of the naive writer and i picked this book for its content rather than a literary work of it so i wont put this book under that radar.
This book was mostly a consolidation of a blog post, the way it's written and content presented to us were pretty much straight forward . Few things had too much details( ex: at the end he explained about all the things he achieved with way too much details which kind of bored me)
To be Honest i didn't pick this book to find some extraordinary hacking mechanism , I have plenty of my own but it was pretty fascinating when i found about this book and how he was managed to do all in such a short time which probably people take years to complete. It was pure and honest curiosity .
Well , i must say i did find some things ( i won't say NEW Things as i kind of knew it but rather ignored or took for granted) . * Ideas on how to measure the progress * Success spiral and Task samurai . * Choosing the goal * Knowing what to learn and quantify it
something i realized that unless we quantify our progress we can't actually make any progress and miss on the success spiral which could help us improve . its like having a difference between these 2 goals " I am going to improve my vocabulary " and " I am going to learn 5 new words and use it every single day "
A great way to get to know my friend Nick better, though I enjoyed the memoir-like portions more than the actual motivation hacking segments. I'll attribute that to the fact that the book was about a friend, and that Nick had already mentioned most of these motivation hacks to me in person.
I think the book was a little bit overly boastful at times, but the stories were good. Despite the slightly annoying prevalence of self-congratulation I found the book to be an easy, and enjoyable read. And the book did get me excited enough to try tracking my happiness, at least for a week :)
This book introduced me to one of the most fascinating equations that I have ever known: the motivation equation. And since after reading it, I have been applying it to many aspects of my life and am surprised to see the unexpectedly amazing results. The writer's goal in this book, after introducing the motivation equation, is to show you how he implemented its different aspects in his own life to successfully complete some ambitiously set missions, and how you can do the same by following those principles.
Nick Winter is a non-expert who wrote this book in 3 months. That said, there is a lot here that is valuable--his enthusiasm is contagious, he's done some good research and a lot of what he talks about led me off with good directions for additional research.
Don't be deterred by the 3 star rating, you'd be hard pressed to walk away from reading it without feeling excited to learn something new, make more of your life and have a little more fun. That's worth the 3 bucks and 3 hours this book will cost you.
Прочитал книжку Ника Винтера «Motivation Hacker». На русском её нет, так что название оставлю оригинальное. На книжку ссылался блогер Томас Франк, а Томас фигни не посоветует.
Программист Ник решил, что-то у него в жизни некоторые области проседают, не хватает ему мотивации их подтянуть. Ник почитал методическую литературу, подумал, подобрал инструменты, написал здоровенный список проседающих областей, со страшной силой замотивировался и погнал фигачить. О чём и написал книжку.
Книжка полезная. Ник применяет формулу мотивации из книги Пирса Стила «Уравнение прокрастинации». Мотивация равняется ожиданиям умноженным на ценность, делённым на импульсивность и задержку. Где для повышения мотивации числитель нужно увеличивать, а знаменатель уменьшать. Ничего не понятно? Читайте книжку, Ник подробно расписывает как применять эту формулу.
Подсмотрел в книге интересные сервисы Beeminder и Habitica. Решил их протестировать на себе. Через месяц расскажу, приживутся или нет.
Nick Winter had a productive year. Here, he discusses several days from that year literally from start to finish. I find that hyper-detailed "how to" format extremely helpful in a book that hopes to actually change my behavior. Winter also provides an excellent beginner's guide to Beeminder, one of my favorite apps.
My favorite thing about this book --- other than the fact that it cost $3 and increased my productivity by around 5% thereafter --- is that Nick is a regular guy. You can write him emails and he will answer them. (I have, and he did.)
For all the good intentions of people like Tim Ferriss and Tony Robbins, you know that those gurus are doing things that you cannot do because you are not rich or ridiculously smart and charming. Nick Winter may be ridiculously smart and charming, for all I know, but he at least gives the impression of being approachable.
The book had a good start, but gradually went stuffed with unnecessary details and repeated ideas. I fast-read the last chapter, that was unnecessary and overwhelmingly positive which I find damaging when speaking about productivity. The author could have summarized most of the book with less words and better structure. However, I liked how he showed applying the motivation hacking methods in his personal experience, so not a bad one-day reading.
Useful tricks for motivation, writing could be improved
The Motivation Hacker explains multiple strategies to boost your motivation illustrated by the 3-month experiment of Nick Winter to radically be productive (with multiple goals such as reading 20 books, writing 1 book, learning 3000 Chinese words, running a marathon, etc packed in those 3 months). The advise is useful and mostly based on other sources he reviewed, but two things might go against this book. First, it's written from someone heavily focused on tracking and optimizing his life, I agree with this but even for me it was too much. The other thing is that while he achieved to write the first draft of this book in 3 months, some ideas and sections could have benefited from taking more time to be better organized, add more reflection and more edition. It seems a bit rushed or unrefined, a second edition would be useful but as far as I know it doesn't exist
This book is good but there is nothing new in here. It is a light read. The book is basically a biographical account of the author Nick Winter's journey from his college to his adult life and how he created an app called Skritter, which is a Chinese language learning app. By the way, he promotes his app so much in the book that it sometimes it appears he has written the book just to promote his app. He reads a lot of books and keeps motivating himself and his friends to achieve what they set to achieve and in between he says that he is trying to finish 17 other things as well like sky diving etc. The way he narrates the story it appears that everything is so easy to achieve but it doesn't convince the reader about it. The author by nature seems to be a very positive enthusiastic man who suffered from an inferiority complex when he was a kid but later got over it. He had made a set of rules for himself to keep himself more disciplined and that is the basic crux of this book. It is one of many motivational books but there is nothing that will excite you while reading the book. It seems that there are no real problems in his life or for that matter he doesn't even need that much motivation. The book is more about how he balances his work life and personal life, and tries to live his life to the fullest. Read it if you have already purchased the book. It won't harm you but it won't benefit you much either.
This book has been written in three months - and you will notice it. Actually you can sum it up in very short words: use success spirals and precommitment. There may be other motivating ways but he does not mention them because he is not using them. Also, nothing about how to get though when stuck (may happen). I also was really annoyed by the fact that you just can't miss the fact that he is super privileged. Give work you don't like to someone who likes it better - Yeah, sure thing when you have someone like that. Would not recommend it.
Great book. If I had to sum it up, I'd say he teaches you MEVID, or M = EV/ID, or Motivation = Expectancy * Value / Impulsiveness * Delay. I completely get this: expectation is the mental index you have of likelihood that you'll follow through and finish a task. Value is what it's worth to you. Impulsiveness is how likely you are to either procrastinate or get distracted from the task. And Delay is how far out in the future the potential reward is.
The entire rest of the book is either related principles or the personal story of Nick applying this to his own life for several months.
The tone somewhat reminds me Early Retirement Extreme - very authentic, very clear, but not for everyone. You have to be a certain kind of person to accept and put into practice these ideas.
Soundtrack while listening was This Is: Anamanaguchi on Spotify.
Interesting, but I feel like the advice is designed for people who already have some form of motivation and are able to implement some of the more intense "hacks". I sure as hell don't have R100k ($7000) to lose if I fail at a goal. For beginners - his advice is basically to just start. Bro, if I could do that - I would.
Might re-read at a later stage to see if I can find anything helpful from this.
The book itself, as other reviews have mentioned it, is not really a book, is more like a ver extended blog article which made it sometimes really hard to read, and sometimes really enjoyable due to the characters wittiness and smart observations.
The book itself can be very useful, specially for someone who desperately need to get out of a downward spiral. However, I do think the author writes the book as what he found applicable in his life is an universal rule. And it might be, things might be as simple as he describes, and everyone can reach success as easy as he can.. However, I cannot ignore that he is clearly someone privileged (which doesn’t invalidate his hard work and impressive achievements) and with a natural goals oriented and focused personality, which makes me believe that he’s findings are not findings but generalizations, and that not everyone will find them applicable or relevant to their situation.
Adding to this, the book is very rich on examples. VERY rich. Too rich in my opinion, and despite I personally found it interesting to read about he achievements, I couldn’t stop feeling like he was unconsciously bragging and that I wish a few less examples so I could finish the book and get to the useful parts quicker.
A rated it as 3 stars though because the book was actually, for me, very useful, it filled me with new thoughts and a more confident and capable approach to life and, even with the useless but very interesting achievements of the author, I did love to read it and
Extra note: save this book for when you actual need it, when you need to leave the bottom of the pit and start building a success spiral. And also, take notes.
For anyone who is always reading self-help books, trying to make himself better, than suddenly he wonders, is that going to work? how can I combine all those ideas from all those resources? Is there anyone who tried that and succeed?
So in this book, Nick Winter set for himself so many challenges in which one of them is writing this book in 3 months and he succeeded in doing that. Some people would say that it is not well written, that the style is not that great but I would say that the content is amazing and very helpful.
He writes about his own experience and nobody else, following tips from other books he had read and a bunch of them are in my to-read list, what he has done is so inspiring and I think I just picked this book at the right time.
I'd rather give this book 3.5 stars but I rounded up. The pros - breezy, and a good jumping off point to learn more about self motivation techniques. Not as braggy as it seems it might seem at first. Solid footnotes.
Con - the same one many books like this suffer from. His life is so far removed from typical (or at least mine) that it's really hard to relate. His daily schedule blew my mind for its lack of obligations. He did seem to understand this somewhat but his youth and inexperience seems to have limited his ability to overcome it.
“To burn always with this hard, gem-like flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life.” - Walter Pater, writer
This quote starts off the book and I think it sets the stage for what this book hopes to achieve: a state of extreme motivation to accomplish goals. The book sets out some methods for "hacking motivation" as well as some anecdotes from the author's life. I agree with other reviewers that this book has a few good ideas and is bogged down with some ego but I found myself motivated to set more ambitious goals after reading it so there is value in that.
The rest of my review is an attempt to break down some of the main ideas from this book and present them in a format that is more helpful for my own use in structuring goals and motivation. Hopefully others find this to be a useful peak inside of the book.
Part 1: Background
The Motivation equation is given. Motivation = Expectations x Value / Impulsiveness x Delay
Techniques are therefore designed to: -Maximize your expectations of success, know you're going to succeed if you work hard. -Maximize the value, on completion and the fun of performing the task -Minimize your impulsiveness, eliminate distractions -Minimize the delay, how far off the reward seems to be
Hacking Expectancy: - You're more motivated if you're confident you will succeed - Slowly build confidence with "Success spirals" small victories on a consistent basis.
Hacking Value: - You should be spending your time and energy on things that are valuable - Pick the right goals - Have a good answer to "What are you looking forward to?"
Hacking Impulsiveness: - Remove distractions in advance - don't have any snacks available - cell phone on airplane from bedtime until after launch (have a productive distraction free morning) - block certain distracting websites (youtube, facebook) - Shut off internet while writing - Having a routine and a plan for each day helps keep things moving
Hacking Delay: - Avoid procrastination by - "The motivation hacker learns to structure goals so that the perceived Delay is not so great. Intermediate milestones, process-based goals, and willfully optimistic planning are his tools here. With the right mindset, success is ever right around the corner."
Part 2: Planning
"Hack like this: first pick your goals, then figure out which motivation hacks to use on the subtasks that lead to those goals — and then use far more of them than you need, so that you not only succeed , but that you do so with excitement, with joy, with extra verve and a hunger for the next goal." - Page 8
"The difficult learning was ahead , but as far as my planning was concerned , I was already done ."
Step 1: Choosing Goals / Endpoints - "You don’t want to end up as a mistaken entrepreneur who should have been a dancer just because you read a book which lent you its author’s dream in place of your own."" - Use Piers Steel’s slightly improved CSI Approach. Your goals should be Challenging (if they’re not exciting, they won’t provide Value); Specific (abstract goals can leave you vulnerable to Impulsiveness, since it’s not clear what you need to do); Immediate (avoid long-Delayed goals in favor of ones you can start now and finish soon), and Approach-oriented.
Step 2: Designing Motivation Structure - Design a Success Spiral - Focus on input based process goals (write for 5 minutes) instead of output based (1 page of writing) - Use Beeminder to track process goals. - Precommit - willpower will desert you when you need it most - Bind yourself to a commitment that is so powerful you couldn't possibly break it. - "Burnt Ships", remove an escape route like Cortes did when he burned his ships behind him. - Add value by making tasks easier or more challenging, find flow. - Add Value by finding meaning - Decrease delay by making the process the goal
Part 3: Execution and Tracking - "Always accomplish what you set out to do, but stop after any milestone where you realized that you weren’t enjoying the journey." - Timeboxing to get tasks done (Pomodoro etc) - You should take a bunch of data on the effectiveness of your work and Motivation.
Misc Ideas and Motivational Quotes:
If you aren’t good at something yet, then hack your motivation to spend the time practicing, and you’ll become great
If what you’re clutching is no longer a dream but a memory of one, then drop it.
You can’t quite guarantee that effort will lead to success, but you can guarantee effort, and that almost always leads to success eventually if you just don’t quit.
Paul Graham’s advice for startups: just don’t die, and you’ll succeed eventually.
Apple cofounder Steve Jobs said that you should stay hungry in order to do great things. If your life is full, you won’t have the same drive as a desperate man. This doesn’t matter for many goals, but watch out if you’re trying to compete with those hungry desperados — they want it more than you do, so you’ll have to be extra smart about structuring your motivation in order to work as hard as they will.
Paul [Graham] tells a cautionary tale about his friend who knew when she was in high school that she wanted to be a doctor. She was so motivated that she persevered through every obstacle, including not actually liking her work. She’s a successful doctor, and she hates it. Now she has a life chosen for her by a high-school kid.
My Rating: 3.2 / 5 This book lacks content. It's small and disappointing. For me this book failed to become either an inspirational read or hand guide towards a certain topic. The only thing I liked in this book is the motivation formula explained in the beginning. Apart from that I don't know what I just read. I don't think I'm going to remember what I have read in this book because the experiments doesn't feel authentic.
Didn't have any techniques I hadn't learned on Less Wrong except for stacking the motivation hacks to go from just enough to get the work done to actually making it fun. Overall, a good, concise, and inspirational introduction to motivation hacking.
Read The Procrastination Equation instead, this book trivializes motivation and oversimplifies the behavioral change process. Though, the author seems to be a great person. It may not be fair to compare him to experts, but our time is scarce and the library never-ending.