How to Bribe Your Way Into Good Habits

You’re desperate: you’re struggling with bad habits.

From wasting time on social media to quitting smoking, you’ve tried to fix bad habits.

You failed repeatedly.

So you start losing faith in yourself. 

When you want to try again, you’re mercifully attacked by the inner critic.

You failed before.

Why do you even bother?

What are you thinking?

You’re familiar with that criticism, right?

But let’s get one thing straight: whether she’s telling you the truth or not, she’s being horrible to you.

Do you remember ever saying something so heartless to your BFF or your sister?

Of course not. So why are you putting up with her? 

Don’t talk to her. 

Better still, hurl it right back at her.

You know what? I don’t care I’ve failed before. I have enough willpower and self-respect to try again.

That’s precisely how we should approach when adopting good habits.

With enthusiasm and self-belief.

You’ll have a higher chance of success because, as Zig Ziggler said, positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.

With that in mind, here’s another way of building good habits you may not have tried before: bribe your way into good habits.

Even the monkeys are trained to complete a task when rewarded with cucumber.

So it works.

And here’s the step you can follow and bribe your way into good habits

Cue (Trigger) and Desired Habit

Decide your cue first. Then your desired habit.

Your cue (=trigger) can be your alarm clock. Your desired habit is to write 30 minutes.

So when you hear your alarm clock, you get up and start writing for 30 minutes (preferably like mad, ha!).

Or your cue is leaving work. The connected desired habit is going to the gym on your way home for an hour’s exercise.

The idea is linking your cue to the best habit you want to build.

Your aim is, you do it so repeatedly that going home straight after work will make you feel:

Something’s not right.

Something’s missing.

Show Up Even for 5 Minutes

Some days, you may not want to write after waking up.

Or you want to go straight home after work, skipping gym session.

Talk yourself into it for 5 minutes.

Your priority at this point is showing up, no matter what.

You may not write for 30 minutes. You may not want to work out for a full hour.

That’s okay. But show up regardless. For 5 minutes or 10 minutes.

Consistency makes this work, not quantity or quality.

Give Yourself Rewards

A small reward here is to incentivise you to show up.

When you really don’t feel like writing or working out, this small reward will entice you to act.

Your reward here can’t be your finished book in 6 months or 20 pounds weight loss in 3 months.

They are your ultimate goals.

Right now (from where you’re standing), your ultimate goals are too far away and seem unattainable.

So turn your attention to a reward today and now that’ll help you overcome today’s strong temptation and laziness.

Your today’s rewards will sit you down and write or encourage you to go to the gym.

Your reward could be a Full English breakfast (yummy!) after writing for 30 minutes. Or a gourmet meal after the gym.

Something that you look forward to after putting in an effort.

Here are some habits rewards ideas:

1. Listen to your favourite Podcast

2. Enjoy a night out with your friends on weekends after 5 days’ daily habit, for example.
3. Watch your favourite movie
4. Cook your favourite dish
5. Enjoy your favourite cake

6. Have a break from your side-hustle gig (if you have one…) and do nothing but relax

7. Gardening (if you enjoy)
8. Get a haircut
9. Get massage or manicure
10. Buy a book to read

11. Take a nap

12. Buy a journal to write your thoughts, goals and dreams
13. Buy brand new makeup or sexy lingerie
14. Decorate your bedroom
15. Enjoy a walk at the park

Balance Between Habits and Rewards

Make sure your rewards don’t defeat the purpose of your good habit.

For instance, my reward after meditating for 20 minutes is watching my favourite YouTube channel.

As I want to master meditation to increase focus and productivity, I’m careful with time allocated to my reward limited to 30 minutes instead of, say, 3 hours.

If your desired habit is a one-hour session at the gym on your way home, treating yourself with a healthy meal is a perfect reward.

On the other hand, 5,000+ calories junk food will bring up another wrath with:

What, are you kidding me?


Final Thoughts

Habits stay with you even when you don’t have the motivation.
– Neeraj Agnihotri

Write down cues, habits and rewards.

Connect them in a way that each plays its role really well so that it’s hard to derail from them.

Make it your 30 Day Challenge.

You’ll have a good habit built into your daily routine that no longer requires your will power or motivation.

You’ll do it without thinking (like a robot!).

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