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Part 8: Time To Reward Yourself

January 24, 2011

****This is an 8 part series about goals setting, developing goals, and how to achieve them that I will post every Monday in December and most of January. Click here to read part 1part 2part 3, Part 4part 5, part 6, or part 7.

Motivation, yeah I wrote about this in a previous post, and baby steps. Am I starting to sound like a broken record yet? Maybe I am, but think about your past goals. Why did they fail? Most likely was because at some point they became bigger than you or the motivation was lost to achieve it. There are many more reasons, but these are the most common.

So, how do you get past this? Try rewarding yourself. Give yourself short-term goals rewards that you can get excited about and look forward too. During my pregnancy I put on 40 pounds. Thinking about it was enough to make me not even want to try to lose the weight. Once my daughter was born and all the post pregnancy stuff happened I still had a whopping 25 pounds to lose. My god I was convinced that there was another baby in there and I kept putting off the weight loss until a good friend of mine asked me to be a bride’s maid. Once I got measured for the dress I freaked. It was time to lose weight. I ended up ordering a dress that was two sizes smaller and would require me to lose two inches off my waist. This would give me something to visualize and work towards.

In the past I realized that when it came to weight loss I usually fell apart in about three weeks. The sugar cravings started, people around me were indulging in food I couldn’t touch, and I was vastly limiting what I was eating. This is where the rewards come in. If I wanted to maintain my weight loss I needed to set a smaller goal than 25 pounds and reward myself. It was planning time. In order to reach my goal I would need to lose 4 pounds a month. This is the only thing that I would allow myself to think about. This was my baby steps. Within that month I built-in rewards. My vices were pizza, fast food, candy, and baking. All very delicious, but would be hard foes to defeat so instead of cutting them out of my life I made them rewards. I allowed my self one of my vices each week for a month if I ate healthy and exercised at least 6 hours that week. It didn’t feel like cheating and it satisfied my cravings. I also set up milestone rewards. For every 10 pounds lost I would treat myself to a diner out with no calorie counting and when I reached my end goal I needed to do something bigger: a full day of no guilt eating. It worked. Setting up a reward system kept me motivated enough to keep going.

To make rewards work you need to make sure of a few things. First, make the rewards meaningful. If it is something that you want you will work harder towards the goal. Don’t make it something like a pat on the back or say that reaching the end goal will be reward enough. Make it an external reward. Buy yourself something, do something that you have wanted to do, whatever it is it should be something that gets you excited just by thinking about it.

Next, you have to follow through on rewarding yourself. If your milestone goals make sure that whatever your reward was that you give it to yourself. The consequences may not seem that big, but it a form of goal sabotage. If you were promised a reward at work for reaching a goal would you work as hard if you knew it may not happen? Maybe you would, but chances are that most people would slack off a bit more and take longer to reach that goal.

We are now at the end of the goal setting series. What did you think? Honest feedback please!

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