I texted Samantha and asked for her Venmo name. She obliged, and before she could ask why I needed this information, I sent $20.
I followed up with explicit instructions.
“I have to make two new Instagram Reels by the end of the day and send them to you. If I don’t, you can keep the $20.”
She’s a good friend who thankfully understands how my mind works and asked no follow-up questions. While I’m positive she’s always rooting for my success, who wouldn’t want an extra $20 to spend over the weekend?
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been cranking out Reels, and I wanted to continue the momentum. My problem isn’t a lack of ideas – I have a spreadsheet full – and time wasn’t an issue. I had the entire day with nothing else planned.
I just “wasn’t feeling it,” a term which I despise, especially after reading Ryan Munsey’s book F*ck Your Feelings. I needed an incentive to get a few reels completed.
For some strange reason, in the throngs of procrastination, the many ways I earn a living popped into my head.
People always ask what I do for work, and it’s easier to just say, “I’m a writer” because I do so many different things to earn money. Besides running a popular parenting website, coaching and consulting, and copywriting work, the scope of everything I do in a week is as extensive and perplexing as a diner menu. Some of my jobs are pancakes, while others are lobster specials.
This brought me around to the concept of working for money. I do a job, and people pay me. If I don’t do the job, they don’t pay me the money.
But what would happen if I reversed the roles and had to pay a client for not completing a job? What if every uncompleted task took actual money out of my pocket instead of losing me money I’ve yet to earn?
The idea struck me like the uncooked lobster special that no one should ever order – I needed to pay someone to keep me on track. I settled on $20 because if I failed to deliver two Reels, it’s only $20, but if I had a $20 bill in my pocket and lost it, I’d probably be pissed at myself for a while.
Money As Motivation: Tips & Tricks
If you’re going to attempt this money as motivation technique for whatever task you want to get done, here are a few suggestions:
- Find a trusted person to hold the money – Duh. Also, don’t ask family. Your family will let you get away with shit.
- Give yourself a time limit – Depending on the size and scale of the project, make sure you give yourself enough time to complete the task but don’t make the deadline open-ended.
- You MUST show results – If I can’t trust myself to shoot a couple of sixty-second Reels, how can I trust myself to be honest about shooting those Reels? I needed to show my work.
- The more important the task, the more money should be on the line – I wanted to film two new videos, but it wasn’t the end of the world if I didn’t. If you want to get something dumb and it’s crucial to your work or life, up the stakes. Losing money is one hell of a motivator.
- Don’t overuse this motivational tool – Your friend doesn’t need to be your money holder all the damn time. If you need a rotation of accountability partners, do that, but don’t send your friend money every day because you keep putting off easy shit like painting the spare bedroom.
I finished both Reels (this one and this one) and sent her the finished videos. The next day, she returned my $20. I haven’t needed her help since, but there’s a winter storm heading this way this weekend, and I’ll have a ton of time on my hands.
I texted to warn her that some money might randomly drop into her account very soon.