Rewards for Good Behavior

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I have read many tips in books, magazines, and blogs about the concept of rewarding yourself for doing something good. I have tried to keep lists (I guess I am kind of a list nut) of ideas of rewards for myself to choose from whenever I am trying to convince myself to do something I don’t really feel like doing.

My rewards aren’t all that extravagant: a bath, time to read, a trip to Starbucks, watch an episode of Parenthood or Glee, or watch my favorite YouTube channels. I kind of do these things on a regular basis these days anyway. I am working on associating them with other things I sometimes don’t feel like doing, but want to have done.

The Right Reward

In the past I have tried to tell myself that I wouldn’t take a shower that day until I did my writing for the day. This trick didn’t work out. I also tried to get really sneaky and consider a walk as a reward for doing something else, but I realized that even though I consider a walk to be a relaxing break once I am out there, many times it takes a lot of effort to actually get myself going outside. So that plan didn’t work out all that well. Some rewards just aren’t motivating enough or the right fit for the activity or the person.

Sometimes the reward of crossing something off a list or the satisfaction of knowing that I have done it is motivation enough for me. Other activities, such as cleaning the floors, require a greater boost in motivation.

Tiny rewards are no less effective than larger rewards. Sometimes constant email and Facebook checking seem like an instant form of reward for a person, even though it doesn’t feel all that rewarding afterwards. With my regular predetermined email processing times set throughout the day, I try to use those times as a bit of a break from working on something more important (and often less exciting). I also tend to reward myself for processing my email inbox to empty by getting up and taking a mini-break.

Using Rewards to Get Things Done

The idea of the rewards system is also in an effort to help me keep up with the items on my “Rituals” list. Setting up rewards for good behavior is similar to associating new tasks with old tasks, just with a little bit more fun added in. Sometimes I am too lazy to go to the grocery store, or feel like I don’t have time, but then I hate not having food to prepare in the house and am always happier when I have gone. I have recently been thinking about what little thing I could do to help me be more happy about that routine, such as making my weekly trip to Starbucks in the same trip as the trip to the grocery store.

Sometimes a reward can be cashed in while simultaneously getting something checked off the list. I almost always watch my favorite YouTube channels while doing the dishes everyday. As an aspiring fiction writer, I also have been trying to get into the habit of reading each day. Taking a bath turns out to be a pretty good time to get in some reading and relaxation at the same time.

Little kids get gold stars and extra play time when they are good, why shouldn’t adults get to have some fun too? Namaste!

image credit: Christmas Stock Images


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