Rewards and punishments can help us stay on track with our goals, but they can also distract us from them. If rewarding or punishing yourself for certain behaviors causes you to forget what your actual goal is, or it causes you to indulge in bad behaviors as a “reward,” it’s time to stop doing that and remind yourself to stay on track.
Focus less on rewards and more on the goal you are trying to achieve.
Notice how you currently reward and punish yourself.
When you engage in an activity that brings you closer to your goal, do you reward yourself, and how do you do it? When you engage in an activity that brings you further away from your goal, do you punish yourself, and how do you do it?
Reflect upon these rewards and punishments.
Do these rewards and punishments motivate you, or are they actually an excuse to put in less effort? Do they play a role in your productivity at all?
Use a daily rule to determine whether you’ve earned a reward.
For example, if you’re trying to eat healthily, set a rule that you will be a vegetarian before dinner. Then you won’t feel the temptation to reward yourself with a piece of chocolate after every healthy meal!