Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Understanding the Importance of a Reward System for Motivation
  • The Science Behind Motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation Explained
  • Why Expand Your Motivation: The Role of a Reward System
  • Creating the Best Reward System for Achieving Goals
    • Identify Rewards: Practical Tips for Effective Reward Ideas
  • Draw a Firm Line with Vices: Ensuring Healthy and Positive Reinforcement
  • Set Clear Objectives: Goal Setting for Sustained Motivation
  • Providing Rewards: How to Implement a Reward System for Motivation
  • Reflection and Improvement: Adjusting Your Reward System for Better Results
  • Conclusion: Enjoy Your Efforts and Stay Motivated
  • Actionables: Practical Steps to Enhance Your Motivation Techniques
    • Reading List: Further Insights on Motivation and Reward Systems

Introduction: Understanding the Importance of a Reward System for Motivation

"You didn't come this far only to come this far."

The w0rld is full of challenges. Staying motivated through these difficulties is the key to a good life.

Motivation is “the reason one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.”

I’ve struggled with motivation. My lofty life goals require much time, energy, and effort, and they seem too daunting to accomplish. Luckily, I found the best solution to motivation is a reward system.

A reward system is a set of gifts you give yourself when you’ve accomplished tasks. For example, I reward my efforts whenever I control my emotions or finish a work day.

I’ve further developed my discipline through this system because I reward myself for accomplishing bigger, better goals.

Today, I discuss establishing a reward system. I start by overviewing motivation and the science behind it. Then, I delve into why we should expand our motivation. I conclude by reviewing the best ways to build an effective reward system.

The Science Behind Motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation Explained

“You have to remember that even though the long-term goals are tougher and time-consuming to achieve, in the end, they are more rewarding.” – Pooja Agnihotri

There are two forms of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation isn’t tied to an external reward. For example, you might learn a new language because you find the culture fascinating.

Conversely, extrinsic motivation is tied to an external reward. For example, you might learn a new language so that someone will find you attractive.

Motivation is both psychological and physiological. Physically, the more something pleases you, the more you are encouraged to pursue that thing because you want the next dopamine hit. Loving someone can create immense joy, and finishing a good workout can produce a swelling of pride. These are healthy responses to virtuous actions.

Psychologically, we can develop motivation through perseverance. If you persevere, you can push yourself to new heights even when you aren’t motivated. For example, if you remain consistent on your novel, even after you leave the honeymoon phase, you will complete your project and improve your writing skills.

Understanding the extrinsic side of motivation can help us create a reward system that leverages both intrinsic and extrinsic incentives.

Why Expand Your Motivation: The Role of a Reward System

To accomplish great things, we must have the tenacity to march forward, day in and day out, without stopping too long or chasing every distraction.

Motivation is crucial but short-lived. You can extend your passion by placing a carrot at the end of the stick. You may want to avoid using comforts to motivate yourself to do good. I know I do. But as we overcome life’s challenges, we should accept comforts in appropriate, measured doses.

The more we reward our honest efforts, the more we appreciate ourselves. When you are appreciated, you work harder and remain faithful to the goals before you.

Let’s now dive into what is involved in creating a reward system.

Creating the Best Reward System for Achieving Goals

At the top of your consideration, you must determine what rewards are. A reward is “a thing given to recognize one’s service, effort, or achievement.” This prize can be anything from treats to leisure activities to new purchases or experiences.

To determine good rewards, you have to ask yourself some questions:

  • What activities or items do I enjoy that can be used as rewards?
  • How can I ensure my rewards are balanced, don’t negatively impact my health or well-being, and motivate me to stay on track?
  • Are there healthy alternatives to some of my desired rewards?
  • What are the costs of these rewards in terms of money, mental well-being, and time?
  • Are the rewards I’m considering practical and feasible, given my current circumstances?
  • Are there low-cost or no-cost rewards that can still be highly motivating?
  • How can I introduce elements of surprise and novelty to keep my reward system exciting?

Identify Rewards: Practical Tips for Effective Reward Ideas

fun | amusement ride

What do you love to do? Take that love and reward yourself.

Video games are my go-to reward. I’ve enjoyed playing them since childhood, and they help me unwind after a productive day. They allow me to engage in stories, enjoy great gameplay, and spend quality time with myself without leaving home.

Video games don’t negatively impact my health as long as I play in moderation. Games like Pikmin Bloom even encourage physical activity. They’re affordable, especially when budgeted correctly. Single-player games allow me to pause and play at my convenience. Additionally, buying new games as part of my reward system keeps things exciting and fresh.

Although not everything can be quantified, explaining your reasoning and acknowledging the costs of your rewards is essential. Being mature about this will help you excel at creating an effective reward system.

Draw a Firm Line with Vices: Ensuring Healthy and Positive Reinforcement

A vice is typically a behavior or habit detrimental to one’s well-being, goals, or values. It often provides short-term pleasure at the expense of long-term health or success.

Conversely, a reward reinforces positive behaviors. It contributes to one’s overall well-being and progress toward one’s goals.

Let’s consider a few questions to help you determine the difference between a vice and a reward:

  • Immediate vs. Long-Term Impact: Does this provide immediate gratification but have negative consequences in the long run? Will indulging in this now make it harder to achieve my long-term goals?
  • Health and Well-being: Does this activity or item negatively affect my physical or mental health? Will this choice lead to regret, guilt, or shame afterward?
  • Consistency with Values: Does this align with my core values and principles? Am I compromising my beliefs or standards by choosing this?
  • Control and Dependency: Is this something I can control and enjoy in moderation, or is it likely to lead to overindulgence? Have I struggled with dependency or addiction related to this in the past? If need be, could I stop engaging in this activity for three weeks?
  • Positive Reinforcement: Does this reward reinforce the positive behavior I’m trying to cultivate? Will this choice encourage me to continue making positive progress?
  • Purpose and Intent: Am I choosing this as a reward for positive behavior or an escape from stress or negative emotions? Is my intent behind this choice to celebrate my achievement or to avoid dealing with something difficult?
  • Impact on Productivity: Will this activity or item enhance or hinder my productivity and motivation? Is this choice helping me build a positive habit, or is it a distraction?
  • Frequency and Moderation: Can I enjoy this occasionally without it becoming a regular habit? How often am I indulging in this, and is it becoming too frequent?

Pornography was my vice. It negatively affected my mental, emotional, and physical well-being. I used it as a coping mechanism to avoid my responsibilities. My usage created dependency. In the long run, I earned nothing but shame and guilt.

Be honest. Use the questions above to challenge whatever rewards you have. If you have a vice, quarantine it and reward your efforts to overcome it.

Set Clear Objectives: Goal Setting for Sustained Motivation

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” — C.S. Lewis

You must set clear goals to ensure you provide the best rewards system. Goals are clear when they are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound):

Define your goals well and match them with rewards that will motivate you.

The harder a goal, the more equivalent the rewards must be. Look at the costs of your rewards, so you know what should be considered cheap versus expensive.

Providing Rewards: How to Implement a Reward System for Motivation

With your goals and rewards, you must consider how you will give to yourself.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Can I include a variety of rewards to keep the system interesting and engaging?
  • Can I categorize rewards into different levels based on the effort or difficulty of the goal?
  • Are the rewards realistic and achievable within a reasonable timeframe?
  • Are there ways to incorporate surprise rewards to add an element of excitement?
  • How often should I reward myself to maintain motivation without overindulging?
  • What is the optimal timing for giving myself rewards (e.g., immediately after achieving a goal, at regular intervals)?

You generally want to avoid rewarding yourself for something you naturally want to do. I naturally like to write. However, I don’t like to edit. Thus, the reward I can give myself for editing is more writing time.

I suggest tools like Habitica to help you streamline your reward system. Habitica allows you to track habits, repeating goals, and one-time objectives. As you excel in each task, you earn in-game gold based on the difficulty you set for the goal. This money can be “spent” on the things you want. This system works because everything I do, from being a good father to working on my blog, goes into the pot. I reward myself for all the good I do, not just for a set category.

Lastly, be patient with yourself. Challenges are inevitable, and you will not master your system on the first try. I worked for months before I developed a fair reward system.

Reflection and Improvement: Adjusting Your Reward System for Better Results

“The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.” — Jonas Salk

You will not create the perfect rewards system, so you should review your rewards system weekly.

Questions to consider:

  • How often will I reflect on my progress and the effectiveness of my reward system?
  • Am I setting goals that are challenging yet attainable to avoid frustration?
  • What criteria will I use to evaluate the success of my reward system and make necessary improvements?
  • How can I adjust my reward system if I find it’s not working as expected?
  • Am I open to changing my rewards based on my progress and evolving preferences?

My rewards system started with an Excel sheet, but the calculations were inefficient; I switched to Habitica to streamline the process.

I also started with categories. Certain tasks unlocked certain rewards. However, I discovered this would cause me to value one set of goals over another, which wasn’t conducive to my desires. So, I pooled all my resources into one.

Your task management system must work for your life, habits, and mindset. We are not all the same, but our goal is to become a better version of ourselves. If you stay true to this goal, you can slowly rework and improve your rewards system to elevate yourself.

Conclusion: Enjoy Your Efforts and Stay Motivated

"Turn ideas into reality"

The only way to make your ideas real is through persistence.

I have always had a hard time relaxing. I like to work. The problem is, the more I worked, the more unfocused I became. Eventually, my exhaustion would manifest as porn addiction, insomnia, and doom-scrolling.

I realized the importance of rewarding myself to show gratitude. I work hard, as you do. If you are constantly pushing yourself to greatness, then you need to take a moment to celebrate.

The rewards system helps you do this. You can celebrate in an accountable way. You aren’t stealing from yourself but paying it forward.

Keep the course. Achieve greatness and celebrate it. Never forget your efforts.

Become An Individual.

Actionables: Practical Steps to Enhance Your Motivation Techniques

  • Rewards: What are some rewards you can give yourself? How much do they cost regarding time, energy, and money? What can you tie these rewards to?
  • Success: Do you think having a clear list of rewards can help you navigate your daily life better? Do you feel that rewards can motivate you to go further in your life and goals?
  • Past Attempts: What attempts have you made to establish a reward system? What was your experience? Where did you succeed? Where did you fail?

Reading List: Further Insights on Motivation and Reward Systems

  1. James Clear’s Blog: “How to Stay Focused When You Get Bored Working Toward Your Goals”This post discusses the importance of maintaining focus and how to stay motivated even when the initial excitement of a goal fades.
  2. Zen Habits: “The Little Book of Procrastination Remedies”This post offers insights and practical tips on overcoming procrastination, which ties into maintaining motivation through a rewards system.
  3. “Do Immediate External Rewards Really Enhance Intrinsic Motivation?”
  4. “The Power of Small Wins” by Teresa Amabile and Steven J. Kramer – This article in the Harvard Business Review discusses how small, frequent rewards can significantly impact motivation and progress.
  5. “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Daniel H. PinkThis book delves into the science of motivation, focusing on autonomy, mastery, and purpose as key drivers.
  6. “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear – This book offers practical advice on habit formation, including the use of rewards to reinforce positive behaviors.
  7. “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela DuckworthThis book examines how perseverance and passion contribute to long-term success and how rewards can support sustained effort.

Please remember it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.

Refer to the linked articles and studies throughout this post for detailed evidence and case studies supporting these views.

*Image credit to Unsplash.