Skip to Content

How to Effectively Use Rewards to Build Better Habits

Sharing is caring!

It’s easy to set new goals and try new habits every new year, new quarter, new month, new day, right?!? But what about sticking with those goals?

How can you make a new habit or goal stick so that you can actually reach it?

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of setting goals and just watching them pass me by. I think I’ve tried every life-improving habit out there, only to crash and burn within the first week. The question was WHY? Why was I always failing? Was it my insatiable sweet tooth? My inevitable procrastination? My obstinate personality?

How are some people able to set goals or create habits that help them achieve their dreams?

I recently read Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. The book focuses on changing your habits based on your personality. Everyone is different, and not every method will work. However, one thing that stood out to me in the book was the idea of treating yourself.

Creating new habits is hard! It’s been said that it takes 21 days to form a habit, but I often find myself failing on day 2.

If you’ve been trying to build new habits and failing, try the following tips to use rewards.

Tips to Use Rewards to Build Habits

Use treats to support your new habit

Especially when you’re beginning a new habit, every little thing can derail you. Want to drink more water? Rewarding yourself with a can of Pepsi probably won’t help.

While I don’t recommend treating yourself in a way that sabotages your new habit, try to find a way to give yourself a little encouragement for a job well done. (As much as I love ice cream, it wouldn’t really make a good daily treat if my habit is trying to eat healthier.)

Did you finish your first 5k? Get a massage to soothe your aching muscles instead of celebrating with dinner and drinks.

Find a treat that will entice you to follow through

Try to make the reward work as a motivator in a positive way. Choose a treat that is so irresistible that you can’t wait to earn your reward.

For example, my new habit is my morning routine. I want to get up an hour before my kids so that I have some peace every morning. To reward myself, the first thing that I do is make a delicious cup of coffee. The coffee (and the luxury of sipping it while it’s still hot without any interruptions) motivates me to get out of bed, but it also helps to wake me up (promoting my new habit instead of sabotaging it).

Automate your treats

Automation is a wonderful tool for habit building and productivity, but you can also use it when it comes to rewards.

For example, an automated reward to motivate you to get out of bed would be using your coffee maker’s timer function. By setting your coffee to brew a mug of your favorite coffee, you’ll be enticed to get out of bed so you can enjoy your morning routine.

If you’re trying to form some new habits (or improve the ones you already have), try to treat yourself in some small way. Let me know how it works out for you!

Sharing is caring!

Meghan Capps

Monday 9th of January 2017

I can't wait to add that book to my "to read" list. I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin right at the end of December and I used it as a model for my resolutions.

Alison Lange

Monday 9th of January 2017

I did that with The Happiness Project a couple years ago! It's a fun way to set resolutions. Gretchen Rubin is such a great author. ;)