How to Bribe Your Way Into Good Habits

Are you struggling with bad habits and looking for habit reward ideas to turn things around?

If you’re like me, from squandering precious hours on social media to trying to kick that smoking habit, you’ve attempted to break free from these self-destructive patterns.

And you’ve failed time and time again.

So you begin to lose faith in yourself.

When you muster the courage to try again, your inner critic pounces, mercilessly tearing you down.

  • “You’ve failed before.”
  • “Why even bother?”
  • “What are you thinking?”

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

But let’s get one thing straight: whether your inner critic is speaking the truth or not, she’s being downright cruel.

Would you ever say something so heartless to your best friend or sibling?

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

Ignore that voice.

Better yet, throw her words right back at her.

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

That’s exactly the attitude we need when adopting good habits: embracing them with enthusiasm and unwavering self-belief.

Your chances of success will soar because, as Zig Ziglar said, 

Positive thinking allows you to do everything better than negative thinking ever will.

With that in mind, here’s a fresh approach to building good habits you might not have considered: bribe your way into them.

Even monkeys can be trained to complete tasks when rewarded with tasty treats like cucumbers.

It works.

And here’s a step-by-step guide to sweeten the deal and bribe yourself into adopting good habits:

Unleash the Power of Habit Rewards

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

Neeraj Agnihotri

1. Cue (Trigger) and Desired Habit: Linking Your Actions

First, pick your cue. Then, choose the habit you want to develop.

Your cue (or “trigger”) might be your alarm clock. Your desired habit could be writing for 30 minutes.

So when you hear your alarm clock, you hop out of bed and start writing for 30 minutes (preferably with fiery passion, ha!).

Or perhaps your cue is leaving work. The associated habit you want to develop is hitting the gym for an hour-long workout on your way home.

The goal is to create a strong link between your cue and the habit you want to build.

Do it consistently until deviating from your routine makes you feel:

  • “Something’s not right.”
  • “Something’s missing.”

2. Show Up, Even for Just 5 Minutes: Consistency is Key

There will be days when you don’t feel like writing after waking up.

Or maybe you just want to head straight home after work, skipping your gym session.

In those moments, convince yourself to show up for just 5 minutes. At this point, your priority is simply showing up, no matter what.

You might not write for a full 30 minutes. You may not have the energy for an hour-long workout.

That’s okay. Just be there, even if it’s only for 5 or 10 minutes.

It’s consistency, not quantity or quality, that makes this approach work.

3. Rewarding Good Habits: Treat Yourself with Rewards

Small rewards can motivate you to show up when you really don’t feel like it.

When you’re struggling to write or work out, a little reward can be the push you need to take action.

Your reward shouldn’t be a finished book in 6 months or losing 20 pounds in 3 months. Those are your ultimate goals.

Right now, those goals might feel too distant and unattainable.

So, focus on a reward that you can enjoy today—one that will help you overcome today’s temptations and laziness.

Your reward could be a scrumptious English breakfast after writing for 30 minutes or a gourmet meal after hitting the gym—something you look forward to after putting in the effort.

Here are some reward ideas for building habits:

Inspiring Reward Ideas for Building Good Habits

  • Listen to your favourite podcast.
  • Enjoy a night out with friends on the weekend after five days of sticking to your daily habit.
  • Watch your favourite movie.
  • Cook your favourite dish.
  • Savour your favourite cake.
  • Take a break from your side hustle (if you have one) and simply relax.
  • Do some gardening (if you enjoy it).
  • Get a haircut.
  • Treat yourself to a massage or manicure.
  • Buy a book to read.
  • Take a nap.
  • Purchase a journal to write down your thoughts, goals, and dreams.
  • Splurge on new makeup or alluring lingerie.
  • Redecorate your bedroom.
  • Enjoy a leisurely walk in the park.

4. Striking a Balance Between Habits and Rewards: Keep Your Goals in Mind

Ensure your rewards don’t undermine the purpose of your good habits.

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

Since I want to master meditation to increase focus and productivity, I’m careful about the time allocated to my reward—limiting it to 30 minutes instead of, say, 3 hours.

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

On the other hand, indulging in 5,000+ calorie junk food might prompt an internal voice asking:

“Are you kidding me?”

Final Thoughts: The Power of Habit Rewards in Your Life

Jot down cues, habits, and rewards.

Connect them in a way that each plays its role effectively, making it difficult to stray from them.

Take on a 30-Day Challenge.

You’ll build a good habit into your daily routine that no longer requires your willpower or motivation.

You’ll do it without thinking (like a well-oiled machine!).

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