Friday, January 14, 2011

The Carrot and the Stick Revisited

When you set goals, it helps to have rewards and punishments. For example, say you want to give up soda for one week.  If you succeed, you treat yourself to getting your ears pierced and you get a sparkly new pair of earrings.  If you fail, you have to weed the garden every day for a week. For this to work it helps to have a friend you are accountable to. A goal buddy, if you will.  Otherwise you might just rationalize the stick away. My daughter used this system with weight loss and the reward was a diamond ring. She must have really wanted it because it worked great for her.

The caveat is that you can't have your reward for one thing screw up your goal in another area. If you goal was to stay out of debt, you probably can't reward yourself for losing weight with buying a diamond ring.  So that gets a bit tricky. You don't want to reward your child for cleaning their bedroom with a box of chocolate chip cookies.

This technique of rewards and punishments is also used in hypnosis. For example the hypnotherapist might say, "If you get through 24 hours without a cigarette, you get to reward yourself with a wonderful feeling of well being.  If you fail, your feet will itch terribly every time you light up."

I need to come up with some good carrots and sticks for the goals that have eluded me, like weight loss.

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