Remember to incentivize yourself

. 2 min read

Psychology is great. It's interesting, it's fascinating, and above all else, it's a handy tool. You can make yourself do things with psychology. You can make yourself believe in things. You can trick your mind into being super productive. And so on. The list is endless.

Let's talk about one in particular: incentivizing. An incentive is a thing that motivates you to do something. Say you want to eat heathier, or exercise more, or get more things done, or socialize. One way to go about it is just to tell yourself to do it; get off your butt and get to work.

Of course, it's not as easy as that.

How can you get a child to behave in a restaurant, or go to the dentist, or clean his room? You promise him a reward afterwards. You can teach the child to expect good things in return if AND ONLY IF he does good things. It's not that different with adults. You can make yourself do things even without a promise of a reward. But it's much, much more efficient if you promise yourself a reward - and keep that promise. (If you promised yourself a reward and then didn't give it, you're basically teaching your subconscious you shouldn't do anything good of beneficial to yourself.)

Which of the following seems more like something you'd want to do?

  1. Get an important project done in the next four hours.
  2. Get an important project done in the next four hours, and when you're done, you can do something enjoyable.

You can replace "something enjoyable" with whatever rocks your boat - Italian food, Netflix and chill, reading a good book, having drinks with your spouse, meeting up with a friend, and so on. Make sure it's something you truly enjoy, yet don't do very often.

Want to eat healthy? Have specific cheat days, or figure out a healthy dessert to reward yourself with after a full day/week of healthy eating.

Want to exercise more? Reward yourself with a cup of coffee or a protein bar afterwards.

Want to get more done? Reward yourself with a glass of wine after a productive day.

Want to learn to socialize? Reward yourself with quiet time alone with a book after talking to strangers or neighbors.

A day may come that you realize you need a smaller incentive than before, or none at all, or that you can do more with the same incentive. A day may come that you realize you can use this technique to become unstoppable. Step by step, you'll get there.