Do you achieve goal setting by rewarding yourself? If you are like me, setting up rewards is the first thing I do to motivate myself to undertake a change. It sets that “Yahoo, let’s get started.” tone.
Turns out that there are a number of reasons why that does not work.
I have been working on understanding how to break a habit. I seem to be adept at making bad ones. It has been quite fascinating because first I had to understand how habits are made. In the end, most things I learned as a child, set me up for disappointment and took me on the wrong course. I have been trained to be extrinsically motivated (getting rewards) instead of intrinsically motivated.
I have learned that we are more likely to adopt a changed behavior and stick with it when we are intrinsically motivated, that is, we pursue an activity for its own sake.
First off, by using rewards, we are setting ourselves up for the fulfillment of expectations as opposed to the actual achievement. Dieting is a great example of this. Have you ever said, if I lose 15 pounds I will buy a new dress?
Well, losing 15 pounds should be your motivation, not the new dress.
By offering yourself a reward you are speaking to your subconscious, trying to prod yourself into action. You are saying that this is drudgery, not really valuable, something you have to do. Many achieve it but then go right back to the old way of eating.
The reward system sets our subconscious mind up for a fall. Decision making. You might think the decision has been made now that you have the reward set in place. Wrong.
Your subconscious is circling in now. Do I deserve this? Can I make it? Is a dress enough reward? It’s not fair I have to struggle with weight, right?
You probably can identify. Using the diet example, how often have you started one and then all you can think about is what you are going to eat and when? That is the decision making rearing its ugly head.
Nix The Finish Line
A finish line again speaks to our subconscious. It establishes that this is a one-of occurrence. You have never heard of a marathoner going on indefinitely right? It might work but most likely hitting a finish line reinforces bad habits and undermines what you are trying to do.
Did you lose weight for a wedding or a trip only to quit everything, go on a binge in celebration and end up right back where you started once it was done?
Well, our subconscious took it as the end, that finish line. Not the beginning of something different. There was no plan for after the event. It went to celebrate mode and never looked forward.
The Power Of Your Subconscious
Your mind is a powerful thing, but you have to harness that power instead of trying to control it. The reward strategy is trying to own that power. Trying to draw your subconscious into submission. This is not to say goal setting doesn’t work for some. However, if you are one of those who find the second, and third, and fourth time around much more difficult, I have found a better way.
The strategy that I am using with success is, to be honest about what I want to achieve.
Then decide how to make my habit rewarding without setting a reward. Back to the dieting, as an example. The lifestyle habit I want to set up for life is to eat 3 low carb meals a day. I will do this by planning my meals in advance, exploring low carb recipes, keeping a low carb snack in my handbag and joining a low-carb Facebook group.
The natural consequence of this habit is I will lose weight.
No pressure right? It is a habit I am looking to instill with a natural consequence that I desire, no deadlines, no ongoing decision making, no forced labor. I can move forward to lose weight by taking on a new habit, those four steps every day, life long.
Want To Try?
My Exciting New Habit
I will ____________________________________________
by doing 4 simple things
so that ___________________________________________.
I want to hear about your success. Join our Facebook group FAB45WomensRevolution and let us know how this approach works for you.
If you find this article helpful Share It