A Pea Coat Is Just a Pea Coat, or Is It?

Motivators are so individual.  I have seen people work toward health or weight loss goals with the incentive of “earning” a special bowl or vase they might not otherwise buy. . . or maybe they would, but somehow it is different when they “earn” it.  Others will work for mere stars on a chart.

One of my clients told me about his recent motivational technique, one that is working very nicely for him.  He gives himself money – tracked in a notebook log – for accomplishing certain behavior goals.  Not eating after a certain time at night earns a dollar amount, etc.

He applies his “earnings” to clothing purchases.  Granted they are items he needs and would probably buy anyway, but he explains that “it just feels more like I earned it.”

I love creative ideas like this.  The fact that he came up with the plan himself makes it even better – it is customized to his personal motivators.  We all can get discouraged – or just plain bored – working for a long time toward a goal.  It helps to offer a personalized “carrot” to keep us moving forward.

Is this just a game we can play with ourselves?  Of course, but who cares if it is effective.  There are plenty of mental games we play with ourselves that work against our goals.  Let’s take advantage of every opportunity to get mind games to work for us instead.  That’s what I think!

2 thoughts on “A Pea Coat Is Just a Pea Coat, or Is It?

  • Sometimes the reward is as simple as a check mark on a calendar. I’m currently trying to break an afternoon snack habit (a particular type of snack) by testing the 21 day theory … 21 days to break a habit. But I recently recalled that it’s important to try to form a new behavior in parallel (apparently it’s easier to form a new habit than to break an old one). There may be something to the thought that old habits never die, but can be smothered by newer, better ones!

  • Actually, according to brain research, you are exactly right! We always keep those neural connections for our old habits, but when new habits take root, they will play out most of the time. This is why it can be scary when an old habit pops up temporarily – maybe during a time of stress, when old coping skills might surface. Not to worry! It is just a relic from the past. We can acknowledge it and move back to the more supportive habits we have established.

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