One powerful answer to moving ourselves towards new habits and behaviors that help us to consciously create our desired life is to find a rewards partner. Find a partner who you can join forces to help support each other in achieving your goals and setup a system of shared rewards. Shared rewards are rewards you agree on that you can award each other when you complete goals you setup together.
Why use shared rewards? Why not give yourself rewards? Giving yourself rewards has not been found to create the same level of behavioral change as getting rewards from someone else in your life. It is very helpful to have a steady flow of rewards for achieving small milestones on the way to completing a goal.
Sites like Facebook have found that adding a “likes” button and displaying a red icon on the top of people’s screens indicating people’s acknowledging their comments or posts dramatically extended user engagement on the site.
WHY THIS IS POWERFUL
Getting these “likes” affects the production of feel good hormones in one’s brain creating a positive association with engaging with the website. I’m sure you’ve experienced Facebook and other social media sites as being rather addictive and hard to quit spending time on. Here is the predominant reason for this! The longer people stay on the website the more ad revenues Facebook earns so this is a very desirable goal for them.
Wouldn’t you love to love working on your most important goals in life and even feel addicted to the process of success? We can learn from this very successful and expensive experiment in social cognitive engineering by Facebook to help move ourselves in the direction in life we want to go.
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For example, if your target is to read 100 pages, set sub-goals towards the 100 page mark, 50 pages, and 75 pages. We call these small goals milestones. As you report your progress to a study partner they send you a congratulatory e-mail with an inspiring picture meme. The idea is by having an external rewards feedback mechanism like a study group or coach or other system we feel validated and this increases production of feel good hormones in our brain which we then associate with the behavior we are trying to increase.
We’ve discussed how important it is to get in touch with our reasons for wanting and needing to achieve our goals to give us the emotional energy to stay engaged with them. Now arrange to have a study partner or coach send you reminders of the reason why you want to succeed at your goal as you hit your short term milestone goals successfully. This might include a reminder of the raise you may get at work or the time spent on vacation with loved ones you are saving up for or experiencing less fatigue after you lose weight.
We discussed how setting big goals inspires us and energizes us. Remember it’s also important to break these goals down into small tasks you can see yourself easily achieving. For example, “I’m going to read the first chapter of the book today”. If you don’t find yourself even starting, then you know you’ve set the goal too broadly. Remember the “Cut It In Half Mindhack?”
Now let’s add external shared rewards into the mix. Setup a rewards system with a success partner or study partner so you receive certain incentive for every single sub-goal or milestone you achieve towards your primary goal. This might be as simple as crossing it off your todo list or putting a big green check-mark by it or getting a gold star type award icon in your email. You know what motivates you more than anyone else so set up rewards that you know you will enjoy and be excited about. Your brain will work better when your life is an enjoyable process with positive expectations.
What should you have learned:
- Rewards work best coming from external sources.
- Set small “milestones” to aim for on the way to your big goal.
- Get reminders to stay in touch with your underlying motivating for wanting to succeed.
- Get used to living with positive expectations of success.