Getting tired of all the political rhetoric? Join this challenge to make political season work for you!


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

I hate October--at least during the even number years, when this is the month that political campaigns shift into overdrive . This year, the race for President seems to be setting new records when it comes to generating a lot of negative campaigning, character assassination, and name calling--just when what we really need more than ever is some serious thinking and honest debate about the problems we're facing. It's just plain ugly and depressing.

For many people, this is also the hardest time of the year when it comes to sticking to your healthy eating and exercise plans. Swimsuit season (and whatever extra motivation that gives you) is over, the weather is getting less user-friendly for outdoor activities, and the holidays (with all the stress, temptations and challenges they bring) are almost upon us.

I've found my own motivation for healthy eating slipping a little bit lately, along with my mood, so I've been looking for a way to keep my head in the game. Here's a challenge I've come up with. Maybe it'll help you, too.

You probably know that one great way to keep yourself motivated is to reward yourself for doing the things you need to be doing. But maybe you didn't know that you can effectively double the power of rewards by combining them with some undesirable consequences for not doing what you need to do. So here's my challenge:

  • Pick an amount of money that's meaningful to you, but not so large that, if you lose it, it would wreck your budget for the month or get you into trouble. Put that amount in a jar right now--that's your reward jar. Set an empty jar right next to that one--that's your negative consequence jar.

  • Decide what you want to do with the reward money you earn. You could donate it to your candidate of choice, spend it on yourself or someone else, or donate it to some cause you care about. Do the same with the consequence money--pick some organization or cause you really don't like, and promise yourself that you'll actually give whatever money ends up in that jar to that group each week. If you're a McCain supporter, send it to the local Obama headquarters, or vice versa.

  • Decide on a time period for this project. For example, if you decide to go with the political theme like I am, your time period would be the 21 days between now and the election. Divide the total amount of money you picked above by this number of days to get the daily amount you're using as a reward or consequence.

  • Select a daily goal you want to achieve that you think you otherwise might have some trouble sticking to right now. It can be anything--sticking to your daily exercise, food tracking, healthy choices, or whatever pops into mind. Just be sure it's a behavior you control (as opposed to seeing a certain number on the scale, for example), as well as something concrete and specific that allows you to easily track your performance.

  • Now, every time you accomplish that behavior, the money for that day stays in your reward jar. But every time you don't accomplish it, take that day's money out and put it in the other jar. Once every week, take the money in the consequence jar and actually send it to whoever you picked. No cheating, or you'll defeat the purpose of this project.

    I think you'll find that, as long as you pick a recipient for your consequence money that you really don't like very much, and actually send it to them, this approach will really make it harder to rationalize your way out of doing what you need to do, and help you stay on track. If the idea of contributing to the campaign of a candidate you don't like doesn't bother you much, find something that does, and use that instead.

    Are you willing to give it a try? Tell us what goal you want to work on, who you're picking to receive your rewards and consequences, and let us know how you do each week.

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    • 32
      Well here it is, 8 years later when I read this, and it's just as timely, politics wise. I don't care much for either side. Kinda think this would work with the various charities that send requests for money. Use the consequences jar to send money to a charity you don't care much for - like GreenPeace or PETA, for example (supposing you love to eat your beef steak and didn't want interference from the PETA people.) Whatever. Sports teams.. if you are a Cowboys fan, and Green Bay Packers is your "arch enemy", then send your consequences money to a charity that the Packers supports. I can see a lot of ways to go with this. Even religions. If one was (fill in the blank - Catholic? Jewish? etc and sent their consequences to a charity funded by a different religion, like the Muslim Green Crescent Society (kinda like Red Cross). It can be anything!! Even your kid's high school's arch enemy team's pet local charity! There are a lot of ways to go with this and still be out of the political arena, yet still make it painful for you to accept the consequences!! - 2/23/2017   10:36:30 AM
    • 31
      I like this idea... Maybe I'll combine KITCHENCAT's snooze idea. Exercise or Snooze??? - 3/12/2009   5:36:53 PM
    • 30
      I'm going to set this up tonight. It will help motivate me to do my daily walks. Thanks for the great idea. - 10/23/2008   11:32:42 AM
      This is a great idea. I'm thinking the charity of my choice is the local organization that feeds the homeless and folks down on their luck by providing meals on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Not sure where the money will go if I don't fulfill my goals. That will take some thought. - 10/22/2008   8:21:48 AM
    • 28
      Hehe - ThinkGeek sells an alarm clock that works on that principle - every time you hit the snooze button it triggers a wireless connection and moves a set amount of money from your bank account to a an organization or charity that gives you displeasure. Says it works on the principle of Hate, like you really hate that organization so you would rather discipline yourself to get up than give them any of your hard earned money. But OHHH... the possibility of error! The jars are a much safer idea. - 10/15/2008   10:38:43 PM
    • 27
      Very clever idea, Dean. I get frustrated when I set goals and can't succeed, so I just keep plugging away and have been so happy with my progress. - 10/15/2008   9:39:55 PM
    • 26
      I am on board! My behavior towards eating candy (Halloween season, y'know) has been slipping, so my behavior is NOT to eat any candy for these 20 days (I'm starting tomorrow, as I've already had candy today before I read this). I will contribute $2 each day (cash), and the reward jar I can spend as I like, but the consequence jar would go to my anti-candidate...I won't tell you who that it is, but it would kill me to send money to his campaign, so I think this is great motivation for me NOT to eat candy!

      Thanks, Coach Dean, for the great idea! - 10/15/2008   4:40:39 PM
    • 25
      This time is very important, but the ads are absolutely horrible! I certainly understand the frustration because I am tired of my mailbox being bombarded and also anytime I turn on the radio or TV. I can't wait to vote and not have to hear or see any more ads!! - 10/15/2008   2:16:54 PM
    • 24
      Thanks so much Coach Dean! I have to say, the part about having to give money to something you DON'T like really struck a chord with me. It really changed my perspective on allowing myself excuses. And I like the idea of the jars because they are tangible, and if they are placed in the open, there's not getting around seeing them. I'm going to do this! As for the comments about the election being the most important time, I agree 100%. It's the ELECTION that is important, NOT the CAMPAIGNING. There is a distinct difference, I believe. It's up to all of us to determine what is true and what is not through research, and by listening to ads and taking them at face value, well, that's just not a wise thing to do. With duty and "rights" come responsibilty. That being said, I don't feel this is "downplaying" anything. Your motivation is your motivation, and if you feel strongly about one particular candidate, and choose to use this as more motivation to reach your goals, there is nothing wrong with that. You can do your civic duty with grace and honor, while still using the "campaign season" as a motivator. - 10/15/2008   1:45:34 PM
    • KLARKE
      Our Presidental election is the most important part of being an American! And yes it can be a bit tiresome to listen to all the ads but I believe it is our duty to vote in an informed matter. Wether you believe the ads they atleast makes you think and we should all take the time to find out the trueth for ourselves and not just follow the "shiney and new". It is misguided to down play the importance of this time! - 10/15/2008   1:09:07 PM
    • 22
      It's not a bad idea, but it doesn't work for me since I do everything I can to focus on the positive. I refuse to have negative consequences when it comes to trying to be a healthier, more positive me. - 10/15/2008   1:07:53 PM
    • 21
      This seems like a good idea. I think though I might do something more local. - 10/15/2008   10:11:39 AM
    • 20
      Actually I find this time of year very motivating and mood lifting. Living in Texas, the weather is great from Oct-Dec. Less hot and humid so I actually and out more running and riding my bike than I am any other time of year.

      This is also my favorite time of year for food. I can find a large variety of fall local harvest foods for canning and freezing, and I just love having those fruits and veggies all during the off seasons. I also like to experiment with new recipes this time of year. Coming up with "heathified" recipes for the holidays is one of my favorite projects. - 10/15/2008   9:43:36 AM
    • 19
      I love the idea of MaryAM... putting things you don't like doing (gross chores) in the jar when you don't hit it and then you have to do it for someone ELSE!!! Cleaning my own bathroom is bad enough, but cleanign someone else's? Yikes! That way it helps out with the money issue too. - 10/15/2008   8:35:25 AM
    • 18
      What a great idea! I don't have any spare money, so I will make two jars with notes, one with things I will love to do (like a picnic in the park) and one with things that I don't like (like cleaning the toilet) and do those things for some one else. - 10/15/2008   8:05:00 AM
    • 17
      I just scrolled down and read other comments (I know, why'd I wait til after I already commented!!), and some of the Sp members just don't get it! If you stick to your guns, you won't be giving money to anyone you don't like....that's what the challenge is all about, not changing the rules for your personal likes! - 10/15/2008   7:47:03 AM
    • 16
      Love it Coach Dean! My dislike of the "other candidate" will surely mean success for me! Thanks for this one! - 10/15/2008   7:43:07 AM
    • 15
      Great concept... but rather than give the consequence money to a candidate, think about giving it to a cause or issue you don't support. In that way, you'll educate yourself! Chances are good that your donation will bring a flood of "opposing stance" information and you'll be able to read up on what you DON'T support. I'm always amazed at the people who say they are "against something," yet have NO background in whatever that "thing" is! This is what's called a "forcing function!" - 10/15/2008   6:51:58 AM
    • BROWNS52
      great idea!!!! i will definitly use this for daily cardio - something i haven't been too faithful at yet. - 10/15/2008   3:13:29 AM
    • 13
      I would gladly give a huge amount of money to stop hearing about any one running for president! I am sooo tired of all of it. I know who I'm voting for and I would be pleased to hear nothing about who the rest of you are voting for!!! - 10/15/2008   1:59:08 AM
      GREAT idea! I can swing $20, every last cent of which will go to our new president, Barack Obama. I am SO set against giving John McCain one CENT of support, I will gladly commit to doing every workout I have scheduled for myself between now and the election! - 10/15/2008   12:34:58 AM
    • 11
      Love the concept...I still have to think of a good reward/consequence for myself. - 10/14/2008   11:41:56 PM
    • 25%GONE
      Okay here's my shot:
      My reward amount = $50. I think I can get a manicure/pedicure for that at the local place. Or something like that.
      Our election is over but I like the general timeframe and I figure it'll be easier with round numbers so 25 days ($2 a day) so October 14 to November 8.
      Rather than give the consequence money to a cause I don't like (I just cannot do that) I'll give the money to my parents to donate as they see fit (they then get the tax benefit instead of me)
      Oh - and my goal is to do all of the stretches I'm supposed to be doing! There are two sets of them and I'm supposed to alternate them daily so that will work too! - 10/14/2008   11:28:53 PM
    • LEELIE
      What a great idea! I'm going to give it a try, and it will work with my kids as well. - 10/14/2008   11:18:03 PM
    • 8
      I like the idea a lot, I think I will make the rewards jar money I would spend doing something I like such as going to the movies. I will have to think hard about what to do with the consequences money though. The political motivartion wouldn't work for me, but I can find something that will. - 10/14/2008   11:05:16 PM
    • 7
      I don't know if I'm going to use the jars but my goal is to get into the size 8 jeans that I brought the other day before my daughter comes home from college for Thanksgiving - 10/14/2008   10:57:35 PM
    • 6
      I love it --- I'm gonna go set my jars up right now - 10/14/2008   9:19:40 PM
    • 5
      We are having our own Federal election today in Canada. I'll have to pick another time frame. - 10/14/2008   9:19:18 PM
    • 4
      Great idea will have to check it out. - 10/14/2008   8:14:10 PM
    • 3
      This is a great idea. I'm going to give it a try. The reward jar will be for me, i figure if i can control my actions and everything else i deserve something nice once in a blue moon. the consequence jar is the more difficult one. gotta really think about something/someone i can't stand for that, lol. but i'm a fun loving person so i don't hate much. - 10/14/2008   7:00:45 PM
    • 2
      Thanks Coach Dean, for giving us some substantial to think about. All this negativity gets to a person after a while. Here lately when I DO watch TV which isn't all that often, when I heard some of these commercials start, I hit the mute button. In my area, we also have local ads which means that out of 6 ads 5 are usually political ones. - 10/14/2008   6:29:06 PM
    • 1
      I find this idea to be very interesting and may just have to give it a shot! What a great idea! :) - 10/14/2008   4:58:28 PM

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