Abandoning long-term goals, especially when it comes to health, is all too prevalent. People crave immediate rewards, and it can be difficult to keep motivation up when day-to-day results aren't perceived. It’s a different activity to introduce into your already well-practiced schedule. It gets annoying to keep carving out time for it when you don’t see any immediate weight loss, or it gets hard to focus.
What it does
Our solution is a bot that you can hold yourself accountable to. With Count On Me, the user tells the bot what they want to focus on, and they hold themselves accountable to it. First you set an achievable, short-term goal. As you are completing the activity, for example a goal of 25 crunches, the bot encourages you, sends positive reinforcement, and celebrates finishing the goal. By providing a reward, it sets in motion a positive cycle of motivation and more performance.
This is a solution to keep consistent with long-term health goals. It's equally applicable and customizable for keeping up with mental health goals. Especially with some mental health disorders and anxiety disorders, it can be hard or even shameful to share struggles with someone else. Skin picking/excoriation and hair pulling (trichotillomania) are very common BFRB (Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior) disorders that accompany anxiety. People who have these disorders experience stigma, since not much is known about these types of issues, and tend to avoid talking about it. This bot can help break the first barrier to getting help, provide a way to measure progress and keep the effort going, and take a powerful step towards mindful behavioral therapy by feeling in control of their path to recovery.
Features we planned on adding included visual tracking of progress, and rewards for consistent accomplishment of small goals. Once you complete the activity for the day, you check it off and optionally upload a picture proving that you completed the activity. You can then view all the pictures you’ve previously uploaded, and see the progress you’ve made so far. You can also compete with yourself to hold a "streak" of the number of consecutive days you've completed your activity. Both of these features introduce more motivation to keep going and not quit the activity. Unfortunately, due to a lack of time, we were not able to implement them, but they are considerations for future improvement.