Bribe Yourself to Stick to Your Resolution

We’ve been talking a lot about resolutions over on our Glucocil blog. January is the time of year many of us decide to make changes to our health routines. You can make changes at any time of the year. But a lot of folks see the beginning as the best time to start. We want to give you the best tools to help you get on the right path, but it’s all a personal journey.

One person on our team vehemently disagrees with January being the starting line. She starts her changes on February first. Her reasons are interesting. January is dark, 31 days long and too close to the holidays. She says it’s not the right time for her to give up extra things, and she can’t get into the right mindset. With Christmas in the rearview mirror, more sunlight and only 28 days, February is her month. We respect that she knows herself well enough to know when she can commit to making changes. And, she has a track record of making healthy — and permanent — life changes in February!

We’re sharing that story to underscore the importance of self-evaluation. Knowing yourself is the first step to making a resolution you will achieve. Setting a goal to complete a triathlon might seem great, but if you know deep down that you don’t really expect that, you’re not going to aim high. Aiming for walking, jogging or running a 5K might be a better goal because you will achieve it and become fitter than you would have!

The second part of being honest in your self-evaluation is knowing your motivation. We all want to achieve our goals, or else we wouldn’t set them. But they are often rather conceptual, “I want to be healthy.” Or, “I want to be thinner.” Unless you have a specific reason tied to your goal, it can be hard. If you think, “I want to be able to play with my grandchildren more,” you have a better chance of achieving your aim than, “I want to jog around the block without getting winded.” But, you can keep pushing off the finish line. Even when you know something will make you feel better, it doesn’t necessarily work. You might be exercising more to help your back, but the idea of less back pain isn’t as concrete as a reward. If you have a treat to work toward, you work harder and faster. There can be a way to make your conceptual goal physical: self-bribery.

We have all done it with children. We’ve told them that if they did X, they would get Y. You can do it for yourself. For instance, if you are looking to lose weight, buy yourself a goal-sized outfit and try it on every couple of weeks. Or, if you are looking to establish a habit, put a dollar in a jar every time you do it. Once it becomes routine, you can open the jar and spend the money on something you want.

Build in goal posts along the way. In an editorial, a man spoke about losing 25 pounds with goalpost bribes. He bought himself things he wanted but wouldn’t have gotten normally when he lost specific amounts of weight. When he hit 25 pounds, he got a vintage robot. Our team member broke a bad habit she had tried to quit many times by giving herself a day at a local theme park with friends after a month of sticking to her new, healthy habit. Then, after three months, she bought a yearly pass. Then, she told herself that she couldn’t go back if she ever started the old pattern. Come February, it will have been six years, and she goes to the theme park twice a month.

There’s a good chance you have no interest in a robot or a theme park, but it’s all the same thing: find the thing that will motivate you beyond just an idea and work toward that. Sometimes, that tangible reward of something like renting a movie after not smoking a cigarette for a week can do more motivating than working toward your lofty goal of being completely tobacco-free! The method works, no matter what you are working toward. Keep your chin up and find a way that works for you!

Image: ian dooley via Unsplash
January 08, 2021
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