Reward Accomplishments to Break Self-Defeating Habits and Form New Habits

Reward Accomplishments to Break Self-Defeating Habits and Form New Habits

Reward Accomplishments to Break Self-Defeating Habits and Form New Habits

  • H Paul Stanley

  • 4 minute read

Are those actions that you engage in regularly without even thinking about them keeping you stuck in a rut? Such actions are called “habits” and it is important to change them if you want your life to become more rewarding.

The reason habits are so automatic is because they have been programmed into your brain by repeated use over a long period of time. Once they are programmed in, they don’t require much thought; you can carry them out quickly and easily without giving them much attention.

It is like driving a car. As a new driver, you must think about each aspect of driving. After you have been driving for a while, you just drive. Because driving has become automatic, you are much more skilled and efficient as a driver – and driving is less stressful and more fun.

Programming like this makes life easier. Because of the programming, you can focus your attention on learning new skills and accomplishing new goals. That is a good thing.

Nevertheless, when the habits begin to work against you or keep you stuck, they need to change. However, changing them can be a challenge; after all, they have been programmed into your brain.

One tool that you can use to free yourself from self-defeating habits is self-rewards. There are several reasons rewards are needed to reprogram habits. First, they increase your motivation. You are more willing to put effort into something that you know will bring something good into your life.

Second, they make life more fun. Everyone likes receiving a reward. It is exciting!

Third, once you experience receiving a reward, you want more. Thus, your motivation becomes even stronger. You willingly put greater effort into carrying out the new action so that you can get more of the positive benefit that it brings.

Every Accomplishment Deserves a Good Reward

Often positive behaviors result in rewards naturally. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. For some behaviors, the payoff takes a long time.

When actions don’t have quick natural rewards, they are more difficult to establish as habits. This is even more the case when you are trying to form a new habit to replace an old habit that does produce an enjoyable reward – even if the old habit eventually causes you frustration or distress.

What do you do when this is the case? How can you develop a habit when the necessary action competes with an already established habit, doesn’t result in a quick natural enjoyable benefit, and must be carried out intentionally?

That is where self-rewards come in. If the action you’re trying to establish as a habit doesn’t produce a reward, you can still experience the impact that rewards create by rewarding yourself.

Reward systems are being used to shape habits and improve behavioral outcomes in many situations. Parents use them to get their children to do chores at home. Teachers use them to get their students to complete homework. Employers use them to make their employees' behaviors more productive.

Reward systems can certainly do wonders when it comes to inspiring people to strive harder. And such systems don’t have to be carried out by someone other than yourself.

You too can tap into the power of rewards by rewarding yourself. I often tell my coaching clients, after they have completed a task or achieved a goal to be sure to celebrate. Celebration is just one way to reward yourself.  

Even though you are the one setting up the self-reward system, you can involve friends and family if you with. Simply ask your friend or family member to do something with you or for you once you have completed the accomplishment. By getting others to participate with you, you can make the impact of the reward stronger.

The important thing here is that you receive a quick enjoyable benefit when you carry out an action that you are trying to establish as a new habit. The benefit will increase your motivation to repeat the action. As you engage in the action over and over it will become programmed into your brain. You will have formed a new habit that can help you live a less stressful, more balanced, and highly satisfying life.

Then, it is time to celebrate once again. Enjoy!

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