T: Treats for Good Behavior
I remember, from the years my boys were little, how well treats worked to encourage good behavior. When I was potty training my oldest, we had a calendar and every morning he woke up dry he got a gold star. When we worked up to a whole week, and then a whole month, there were special treats involved. I don’t remember what the treats were, as thirty years have passed since then. There were other incentives for good behavior. (Incentives sounds better than bribery, doesn’t it?) When you get your room all clean, you can have an ice cream. If you and your brother go a whole day without arguing…
This little trick isn’t just for children. It works on adults too. We can apply this technique to our own life to encourage us to develop good habits, complete projects or meet other goals, or to try to get us through difficult situations.
I used it on myself yesterday. There was a new project I was excited about and I wanted to sit down and outline the plot and develop the characters. But I had other tasks that needed to be done first. I made my list of what absolutely needed finished yesterday…and when I was done with those, my treat was that I could sit down and spend an hour on the new project.
When I was working full time in retail, possibly the most challenging job I’ve had in my adult life, there was one coworker that was particularly annoying. Oh, how I really wanted to open my mouth and ream her up one side and down the other. But I also knew it wouldn’t do any good. It wouldn’t change her behavior at all. All it would accomplish is spreading ill will between not only us, but our other coworkers also. And it would destroy the image of professionalism that I’d worked so hard to build. When her actions escalated and they became more difficult to ignore, I used the treat motivation. If I make it all week without exploding, I’ll treat myself to a special dessert on the weekend.
When a customer stood at the counter being extraordinarily rude, I’d take a deep breath, count to ten, and tell myself that if I didn’t lower myself to her level of interaction, I’d treat myself to a break and a walk around the parking lot.
Try it and see.
What behaviors do you want to encourage or control? What habits do you want to develop? What tasks have you been procrastinating on?
What are some treats that would motive you? You’ll want to match the level of work or commitment with the treat. Obviously, my treat for writing one overdue blog post wouldn’t be a weekend away vacation. I’d save that treat for something that required a huge amount of effort or dedication.
Or would I? Could I give myself a weekend at the beach for finishing this one blog post? Nope, not going to happen. However…maybe for finishing the novel that’s been on the backburner for too many years…
But for now, I’m going to go publish this post (that was due yesterday) and go treat myself to that last piece of caramel cake that’s sitting in the refrigerator.