Every year at Halloween, parents allow their kids to consume truckloads of candy. If they enjoy it, why not do it every day? Because it would destroy their health and ruin the experience. That same principle applies to us as adults.
Photo by Lee Haywood.
As personal finance site Physician On FIRE explains, the psychological reward for the things we use to treat ourselves can start to diminish the more often we do it. If you have a slice of cake every day, it's not going to feel special when you have it on your birthday. If you eat out every day, it's going to feel like a routine that you'll miss when you stop, rather than a nice night out. To keep your incentives properly calibrated, keep the things you really enjoy reserved for special treats:
If you want a special experience to remain special, you'd best not make a habit of it. If you let it become routine, you've transformed what was once a real treat into something ordinary.
Enjoy fine dining? Make it a treat.
Like drinking fancy wine, scotch, or ale? Make it a treat.
Business class upgrade? Make it a treat.
That thing you do that makes her feel special (like roses on a random Tuesday, a surprise date night, or washing the dishes)? Make it a treat.
Not only does this help keep the experience special, but it gives you a way to reward your brain when you need to. Why would you bother chasing a special reward when you get one every day? By reserving special experiences as treats, you can motivate yourself. "If I get enough work done this week, I can go out to that nice restaurant," for example. Your brain runs on rewards. It's better if you save those rewards for habits that are worth motivating.