The most important element to creating good habits that leads to achieving your goals is to feel rewarded or some form of success. Regardless how big or small, this is vital along your journey.
The feeling of small incremental success sends messages to your brain that, "hey... this is worth it. Keep going!"
This is why I strongly believe in setting up a reward system when you're planning out your goals. The anticipation of experiencing your reward makes it all worthwhile.
The anticipation, the fun, satification and feeling of accomplishment keeps you motivated to stay the course. In the previous article (Habit 1 of 5: How to Stay Motivated) we talked about the motivation factor.
In this lesson, we're going to talk about some strategies for using a reward system as a form of motivation. Simply put, we're going to talk about how to set up a reward systems that suits you.
One of my favorite types of rewards systems is the "cheat day" established by people who want to improve their weight goals or level of fitness. I too have adopted this strategy and it works like a charm.
My initial goal was to lose 40 pounds, I've accomplished that now my goal is to stay lean and build more muscle. To do this I strive for a healthy eating regimen six days in the week with one day as a cheat meal day.
Through the week, I'm eating healthy foods like banked fish, chicken, lean beef, egg whites, etc. But my cheat day is a form of reward for my week of commitment to health eating and not breaking my cycle.
We all look forward to the weekend but for me it's heightened to another level, because of my reward of eating my cheat meal on a Friday. This is because I have conditioned my brain to anticipate this day with the way I feel.
The reality is, we learn which behaviors to repeat based on how they make us feel. As a child when we did things that made our parents say, "you did a great job with a smile" we wanted to do more of those types of actions in the future.
I read the book, Atomic Habits, and the author James Clear refers to this as "The Cardinal Rule of Behavior Change": What is rewarded gets repeated. What is punished is avoided.
Early during your goal driven focus, it's tough and mostly feels like a chore. You start to save a little money to chip away at your debt. Start going to the gym to get stronger or lose weight. But unfortunely it doesn't lead to immediate gratification.
The Cardinal Rule of Behavior Change: What is rewarded gets repeated. What is punished is avoided.
But by focusing on the increamental success and attaching that to a reward will keep you feeling successful.
What we're really talking about here is creating incentives for yourself to keep you happy. Companies we work for do it all the time in the form of commissions, bonuses and promotions.
Think of the things you really love to do and makes you feel extremely happy. These are incentives that you can enjoy "after" you've put in the work:
- Bing watch a Netflix series
- Buy youreslf a nice gift you've always wanted after you hit your goal of paying off some debt
- Eat a meal that you really enjoy that can serve as your cheat day
It doesn't matter what you do as long as it hits the mark of making you truly happy and keeping you motivated to show up for your goals each day.
If you found this article to be helpful, it would mean the world to me if you share this with people in your circle.