Motivation Strategies

Remember to Reward Yourself

How to Pat Yourself on the Back


Here’s how to set up a good rewards system:
  • Choose some benchmarks and reward levels. You can also reward yourself for levels of consistency.
  • Make the reward meaningful to you. As a reward, a new pair of shoes may not hold as much motivation as a simple night alone with a book. Then again, it might.
  • Choose two or three options from the Reward Roster below or come up with a few reward options of your own. It doesn’t take much. Sometimes, the best rewards are those you can’t buy.
  • A lot of small rewards, used for meeting smaller goals, are more effective than relying solely on the bigger rewards that require more work and more time.
  • Don’t use food as a reward. Even good food. It’s just too much of a slippery slope. Don’t even mess with it.
  • Plan to celebrate. Figure out now how you’re going to celebrate reaching your health, fitness or nutrition goal. Involve other people, tell them about it. Create a celebration that you can anticipate and then keep it within sight all the time.
  • Be honest with yourself. Fudging the numbers mentally, or "borrowing" against the next reward hurts the cause of building a lifetime habit. Remember to keep your focus on building a habit, not just figuring out how to get the reward.
  • Compliment yourself. Write down what you would say to anyone else who accomplished what you did.
  • Create an actual plaque or trophy.
  • Give yourself badges of honor for different levels of accomplishment.
  • Take a vacation or weekend getaway.
  • Take a day off from any goal activities.
  • Put $1 in a jar every time you meet a goal. When it gets to $50, treat yourself.
  • Create a Trophy Scrapbook, where you keep mementos from your accomplishments.
  • See a movie.
  • Make a grab bag of little prizes. When you reach a significant goal, reach in and get your reward!
  • Go for a spa treatment or massage.
  • Buy yourself a gift certificate.
  • Take a limo ride.
  • Subscribe to a magazine you always wanted.
  • Go canoeing or do something outdoorsy.
  • Watch your favorite TV show.
  • Buy something for your hobby.
  • Read a funny book.
  • Celebrate "100% Days". If you reach 100% of your goals that day, choose two rewards.
  • Find some time to be by yourself.
  • Pay someone to do the yardwork or house cleaning this week.
  • Fly a kite.
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About The Author

Mike Kramer Mike Kramer
As a writer and artist, Mike has witnessed countless motivational stories and techniques. See all of Mike's articles.

Member Comments

  • My first reward will be going to the aquarium in town. My partner and I are figuring out as we go, but every ten pounds I lose, that's another reward. It's kind of exciting. - 3/17/2015 10:03:56 AM
  • I guess I really need to brush up on this subject especially since I have Crohnes Disease. That way I might feel better more of the time. - 6/25/2014 4:18:38 PM
  • I do reward myself with food sometimes ! Before I lost weight I would think of treats as a staple not a reward and would mindlessly eat cookies or candy bars. Now I do think of them not as their own food group but as a treat ! I like the one about the mystery bag too. Buy little things and put them in a bag for later to grab one out ! If your anything like me you will forget whats in the bag ! - 10/8/2013 8:58:32 AM
  • Great, great article, Mike! It's just what I needed today! I've set rewards for major goals but never thought about rewards for things like consistencies or small achievements. Achievements are achievements! I've learned on SparkCoach how important the WooHoos are to me because I go through and get all three WooHoos every day at the end of the program! I never knew I loved those "atta-girls" so much! Thanks, Mike! - 5/21/2013 5:20:02 PM
  • Mike, you write the best articles on Spark People! Thanks for the great ideas. :-)
    Jan - 5/17/2013 11:06:43 PM
  • I just set up my own rewards system! :) Yey! - 3/20/2013 11:22:57 AM
  • This article is just what I needed! Thanks! - 2/19/2013 4:46:24 AM
  • This article has helped me with the idea of rewards. Thanks Mike. I think I will reward myself with a trip to the bookstore to spend a half hour reading and browsing. Finding the half hour will be difficult but it is a very meaningful reward for me. I will start with a reward for consistency. Can't wait to see how it works out. - 10/18/2012 6:36:52 PM
  • I reward myself with a new song for my work out playlist every time I work out. - 9/21/2012 12:44:08 AM
    PS - and when that DOESN'T happen, as it hasn't for a while now, feeling strong and healthy is a reward too. Being able to run for the bus without passing out, carrying the 40lb bag of dog food past the check-out clerk who is half my age, saying "no" to a treat because I really don't want it, those are all great rewards for me. - 9/13/2012 8:43:07 AM
    Just seeing the numbers on the scale get smaller is reward enough for me :) - 9/13/2012 8:39:24 AM
  • Can't believe this one is not on the list -
    Post an updated picture of yourself and hear the comments from fellow Sparkers!

    And I DO use food as a reward. I eat at the low end of my range and "save" calories for emergency invites for the week. If I have these left over, I either feel happy enough making fast progress OR I will use these for my own special treats. Once it was going out for a few pieces of sushi, another time a special coffee that I haven't had forever....I think it not only rewards, but also makes all these foods possible just not as often. - 9/8/2012 5:39:05 AM
    Ditto on that. I still don't know how to redeem the 500 spark goodie points. And what happened to the previous spark goodie points I won several times? HELP!!! - 8/19/2012 11:21:20 AM
  • hello, i am new here.
    I don't really understand this goodie thing.
    does it mean if I have 500 points & i purchase a treadmill, will a treadmill be delivered to my house, or is it just "pretend" purchasing? - 8/19/2012 5:25:43 AM
  • I love the list of reward ideas! Thanks!
    - 7/28/2011 10:11:26 AM

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