Reward Yourself With What Brings You Closer to Your Goals

You have a list of goals and you stick with your new habits for a week. You’re lucky! You deserve a reward. But maybe you shouldn’t give yourself a reward that destroys your habits.

As the advice site Barking Up the Wrong Tree explains, the reward you give yourself for sticking to your goals is an important incentive. However, if the reward you give yourself undermines the goal itself, it only knocks you back. If you’ve been dieting today, eating healthy foods, and keeping your calorie intake low, rewarding yourself with a large bowl of ice cream isn’t the best incentive. This directly contradicts your goal. The site cites productivity author Steve Cambe, who explains how video games use incentives to move forward to help you progress, not throw you back:

What I love about Legend of Zelda is that every time you go to a new dungeon or level, you get a new item. This item allows you to progress further in the game and explore the next dungeon. So why don’t we reward ourselves by rewarding us in return? If you could only run for ten minutes every day, five days a week for three weeks, you’ve earned a new pair of sneakers. Since I have completed this mission that I have set for myself, I have been able to earn something that inspires me even more, helps me gain momentum and pushes me further along the path of the habit that I am trying to develop, a new version of myself I am trying to create.

When setting goals, think about the general lifestyle you want, not just what would be enjoyable at the moment. If you’re trying to lose weight, reward yourself by adding money to a fund of new clothes, rather than eating something bad for yourself. If you’re trying to be more productive on your side projects, reward yourself with a new notebook rather than a lazy day watching Netflix. Focus your rewards on the new life you want, not just your goals.

The Most Fun Way to Make Your Life Great | Bark on the wrong tree


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