Advertising
Advertising

5 Excellent Ways To Reward/Punish Yourself To Reach Goals

5 Excellent Ways To Reward/Punish Yourself To Reach Goals

We all know that we need goals in life. Getting them done, though, is hard. And beating yourself up because you’ve failed to reach another goal does not get you anywhere.

You need to learn how you can stack the cards in your favor and how you can take willpower out of the equation. When you know how to use rewards and punishments in the right way, it will seem as though reaching your goals is an inevitable outcome.

1. Treat yourself when you get it right

When trying to reach a goal you should aim to treat yourself every week.

You can probably break your big goal down into little milestones. You should try and reach milestone per week. The great thing about milestones is that it breaks down the goal and lets you know when you are on the right track. Every time you hit a milestone you should treat yourself.

Advertising

The treat you give yourself does not have to be something massive. But it should be something that you really enjoy and look forward to. It is important that the weekly treat does not set you back in terms of your goal. If you’re looking to lose weight, it might not be a good idea to make your weekly goal a tub of ice cream, for example.

Having a weekly reward will provide you with a fresh burst of motivation each week. You’ll feel rejuvenated as a result of the treat and the small milestones will make progress seem easier.

2. Tell everyone about your plans

Nobody wants to fail in public. Public humiliation can be one of the most motivating factors ever when it comes to reaching our goals.

Mention to someone that you’re going after a big goal. Try and find someone who is going to give you a hard time should you fail. Someone who will make a comment or two when you’re failing and will let the rest of the world know too.

Advertising

This might sound like a bad idea, but it can be really helpful. You do not want this person to spread the bad news. It will feel even better when you reach your goal and you can prove to them that you were capable of reaching your goal. Pick the right person and just watch how motivated you’re going to feel.

3. Place a bet

If there is one thing we all hate, it’s losing money. You can take advantage of this psychological quirk by placing a big bet with someone based on your goal.

A big bet often tends to vary depending on who you are and what your salary is. For most people, however, 2% of their yearly salary seems to be big enough. Set an end date for your goal and then get to work.

Make sure you and the other person included in the bet are clear on the terms.  Ensure that the each of you have an agreement based on how you’re going to measure this goal and its achievement.

Advertising

4. Create your own consequences

Should you fail to reach a weekly milestone, you may want to put yourself through something that you really don’t like. This might take a little bit more effort when compared to everything else that has been mentioned, though it can still be helpful.

For some people, a cold shower might be the right kind of punishment for failing to reach a goal. Other people may decide that failure to reach a goal should result in them having to buy a gift for their least favorite person in the world. You could even consider donating to a charity you don’t like.

5. Have a friend support you

When it shooting for a goal, the support of a friend can really help. You should try and convince a good friend to reward you when you reach a goal.

This tends to work for a variety of reasons. Firstly, you do not want to let your friend down, and so will do everything you can to reach your goal. Secondly, you’ll work hard because you want the aforementioned reward once reach a goal. You’ll also have someone to talk to when the going gets tough.

Advertising

Provided that you have a great friend who cares enough to stand by their word, this technique can be a real godsend.

A New You?

Reaching your goals can be hard, especially when you’re relying on willpower.

However, you now know of 5 ways in which you can reward and punish yourself, so that you end up reaching your goals. With these tactics, you shouldn’t ever have to worry again about failing because willpower held you back.

Featured photo credit: Coffee & Sweet Cake Break/FOODIE’S FEED (JAKUB K.) via picjumbo.com

More by this author

5 Excellent Ways To Reward/Punish Yourself To Reach Goals

Trending in Productivity

1 The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) 2 What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 3 6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills 4 How to Concentrate and Focus Better to Boost Productivity 5 15 Productive Things to Do When Bored (So Time Is Not Wasted)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

Advertising

Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

Advertising

One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

Advertising

But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

Advertising

It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next