You’ve got your list of goals and you’ve been sticking to your new habits for a whole week. Good for you! You deserve a reward. But maybe don’t give yourself a reward that ruins your habits.
As tips site Barking Up the Wrong Tree explains, the rewards you give yourself for sticking to your goals are an important incentive. However, if the rewards you give yourself undermine the goal itself, it only serves to set you back. If you stuck to your diet today, ate healthy food, and kept your kilojoule intake low, rewarding yourself with a big bowl of ice cream isn’t a good incentive. It directly contradicts the goal you set up for yourself. The site quotes productivity author Steve Kamb who explains how video games use forward-moving incentives to help you progress, rather than setting you back:
The thing I love about “Legend of Zelda” is that every time you go to a new dungeon or a new level, there is a new item that you earn. That item allows you then to progress further in the game and go explore the next dungeon. So why don’t we reward ourselves with things that reward us back? If you could run for just ten minutes every day for five days a week, for three weeks, you earn a new pair of running shoes. Because I completed this mission that I had tasked myself with, I’ve been able to earn something that further encourages me, helps me build momentum and pushes me further down the path of the habit I’m trying to build, the new version of myself I’m trying to create.
When you’re creating your goals, think about the overall lifestyle you want, not just something that would feel nice in the moment. If you’re trying to lose weight, reward yourself by adding money to a new clothes fund, rather than eating something bad for you. If you’re trying to be more productive with your side projects, reward yourself with a new notebook, not a lazy day watching Netflix. Focus your rewards on the new life you want, not just the goals you set.
This Is The Most Fun Way To Make Your Life Awesome [Barking Up the Wrong Tree]