Leveraging “Treat Rewards” for Better Habit Creation
As you know, healthier, more positive habits are often less stimulating than negative habits are, so if you are transitioning away from bad habits and to positive ones it might be necessary to incorporate treat rewards in order to satisfy the sense of short-term satisfaction that you have been providing for previously. For example, if you eat high-sugar foods to feel good, going to the gym will not provide the same immediate rewards, and so you might consider adding on the reward, “
It is flexible Using a treat reward more than the intrinsic rewards. You are kind of stuck with the intrinsic reward – the only thing you can manipulate is the intensity. However, the treat really can be anything, and be as amazing as you can imagine. This means that working with treat rewards is a great way to ensure you build a habit and always complete it. It is also a lot easier to use this form of reward when you begin a habit, because you may have a technical limitation or lack of experience that prevents you from getting any intrinsic reward from the habit. For example, if you’re overweight and go to the gym for the first time ever, you aren’t going to be good enough at using the equipment to get really any intrinsic reward like endorphin release, so aside from the good feeling that comes from breaking through internal resistance and doing something that you want to do, there will be no intrinsic reward from exercising itself. Deciding on what the treat will be shouldn’t be particularly difficult. However, below are some things to consider:
You don’t want to have a treat reward that is counterproductive in some way, e.g., not cake or cookies after working out at the gym. However, depending on the habit you are trying to push toward, if it gets you to take action it is worth considering indulging yourself to some degree – just don’t go overboard! The treat reward really can be anything that you enjoy.
For long term projects, it might be even more necessary to use treat rewards. For example, if you are working on new business but don’t expect to turn a profit for 6 months, it is going to be hard to keep performing the habits you know are necessary to grow the business. In this example, you might decide that making 5 sales calls in the morning would be a great way to start your day and an essential part of growing your business. However, there is going to be little short-term reward from completing these sales calls if you know the likelihood of making a sale is low and part of a longer 6 month strategy, so you might decide that you will let yourself play video games for half an hour after you complete those 5 sales calls. When the intrinsic rewards of a habit are a long way off, or if your habits are part of a project with a long-term goal, treat rewards are even more necessary.