Rewards and Consequences

Sometimes you may not be able to find the perfect accountability partner. Or perhaps the issue you are dealing with is something you aren’t comfortable discussing with anyone else. I like to use rewards and consequences as two alternate forms of accountability.

Just to be clear: I do not equate consequences with punishment. Life is hard enough: why deliberately make things hard for yourself? So this is not about punishing yourself if you fail to meet a goal. Instead, it’s about natural consequences. What are the unpleasant results of failure? Allow yourself to fully experience those results.

How do we do this? First, find out what the consequences are. If you are putting off cleaning your house, and then people come over, you may be embarrassed. Or you may have to pay for a house cleaner to come over. Or if you decide to stay up late and watch TV, then with every yawn the next day remind yourself that you are tired because of your choice. This is empowering, because it reminds you that you can make decisions about the quality of your life.

And now, the fun stuff: rewards!

When you use rewards, you build positive associations around meeting your goals. This helps builds new healthy habits. Rewards can be big or little, material or intangible, free or expensive, time consuming or brief. Be sure to consider your senses: Sight, sound, smell, taste, touch. A reward that stimulates one or more senses is great. Make a list of potential rewards so that when you deserve one, you can quickly access it.