How can you motivate yourself to do those things that you know you need to do, but that you don't want to do? This question has probably been around since mankind began having unpleasant things to do! You've probably faced this same challenge yourself many times in your own life.
Is it better to reward yourself for doing good and making progress toward your goals? Or can you get better results by punishing yourself when you fall short of your expectations? Both methods seem to have their merits, at least from a superficial viewpoint. But a closer look reveals that you are much better off rewarding yourself when you meet certain goals or milestones, than you are punishing yourself.
Read these case studies and decide which method will help you achieve your goals faster.
Case Study #1 - "Jim", a coaching client, doesn't finish an important, yet tedious, task that he set for himself. He decides that the reason that he did not finish this task was because he spent his available time playing a new video game instead of working on his task. To punish himself and to correct his own behavior he decides that he will not allow himself to play video games for the rest of the week.
He intended for the punishment to push him into performing the task, but as he continued to use punishment every time he missed a deadline or did not finish something, he soon learned to associate the punishment with the act of setting the task and not the incompletion of the task. As a result he began setting smaller and smaller goals for himself and achieving less and less.
Case Study #2 - Another client faces a similar challenge in motivating herself to complete some rather boring parts of her detailed plan to achieve her goal. She, however, chooses to reward herself after completing each task. She soon learns to associate the pleasure of these tiny rewards with the act of completing her self -assigned task.
As a result she tries harder to finish her tasks and is always looking for new goals and new things to achieve so that she can enjoy the pleasures that she rewards herself with.
Depriving or punishing yourself for your actions can help you stay on track, but using punishment does not compare to the results you can get by switching to the reward system. Unless the life that you are trying to create for yourself includes depriving yourself of the things that you desire and enjoy, you should stick to the reward principle and rejoice in every opportunity that you can find to celebrate your successes.
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