Why ‘Treat Yourself’ Undermines The Habits You’re Trying To Build

Why ‘Treat Yourself’ Undermines The Habits You’re Trying To Build

When you’re developing a new, responsible habit, it’s tempting to break the habit every once in a while as a reward for good behaviour. The problem is, this actually undermines the good behaviour. Instead, try building the rewards into the system itself.

As personal finance blog First Quarter Finance explains, the idea of “treat yourself” tells your brain that the “good” behaviour you’re building isn’t the real, fun life you want to live. The treats are. It teaches you to hate the time in-between treats. Rather than feeling like a reward for good behaviour, it makes the treats feel like a reprieve from punishment:

And please stop saying, “I’m going to treat myself.” You may as well be saying, “I hate my normal life so today I’m going to treat myself by living how I wish I could live everyday.” Sad, don’t you think?

I know you may be thinking… “But splurging can be fun! Sometimes I just want to go crazy! But what about on vacations?!” I know, I know… but I’ve been reading a lot about how to engineer a perfect life. Splurging just doesn’t really play much of a part. Being so incredibly happy in your day-to-day life is what’s important. And yes, being frugal does not mean giving everything up. If you want bi-weekly pedicures — go ahead! Just make sure it’s an easy thing to incorporate in your normal routine. You should never feel strained by such an expense.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have special, planned-for occasions where you cast off the rules. It just means those moments need to be part of your plan, not contradictory to it. Budget for “blow money” so you can spend responsibly. Save the splurging for times when you’re away from your normal routine like on a vacation. When you’re just feeling down during your normal day-to-day, though, changing your mindset will probably do more good for yourself than an expensive dinner.

Frugality Only Works if You Let It Penetrate Your Subconscious [First Quarter Finance via Rockstar Finance]

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