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Setting a Reward for a Small Goal

Thursday, January 10, 2013

As a big fan of both Japanese RPGs and Studio Ghibli, I was already planning on using the money I still have from Christmas to buy Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch when it comes out.

So I figure, might as well use this as an opportunity to bribe myself into staying on track ^_^

This is the plan: as a reward for exercising 30 minutes a day and drinking at least 4 cups of water between January 13th (when I'm back at my own apartment and have access to my exercise bike/exercise DVDs again - i.e., no excuse not to exercise) and January 22nd (when the game comes out), I'm going to buy myself Ni No Kuni (even though I was going to anyway).

Wait, you might say. Why on Earth would you give yourself a reward of something you were already going to buy (and furthermore, will probably buy even if the goal is not met)?

The answer to that question: It's difficult to explain, but my mind just works in mysterious ways. If I say something is going to be a reward, I will probably go ahead and do the work to meet those goals. That way, I don't feel bad when I give myself that reward anyway ;P

Giving myself rewards has always worked well for me in the past (working towards small goals in order to obtain them keeps me focused, if nothing else), but since I don't have a lot of money, I can't really spend it on rewards that I wouldn't have bought anyway. Thus, I find that tricking my mind into thinking I'm getting rewards (by telling myself that things I'm buying anyway are, in fact, rewards) works rather well.

I also find setting goals that I have COMPLETE control over immensely helpful. To me:

Lose X# of lbs by XX/XX/XX = not a very good goal, because how much weight I lose is not something I can 100% control despite my best efforts


Drink X# cups of water every day between XX/XX/XX and XX/XX/XX = excellent goal, because I definitely have 100% control over how much I drink

Obviously, I also like to set goals that are less than overly ambitious. To me, 8 cups of water a day is just asking too much (especially when I'm not used to drinking any), but 4 is both better than none and a completely attainable goal.

Not to say that the goals I'm working toward aren't important. At the moment, I feel like if I can do the water and exercise, everything else will follow. I'm a lot less likely to feel like over eating if I'm otherwise taking care of myself.
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