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The importance of rewards in habit formation.

Every habit has 3 parts. The Reminder. The Routine. The Reward. The reminder is what triggers you to do the habit. The routine is the actual habit you want to do. The reward is what makes you want to do the routine again in the future. When designing a new habit it is important to include a good reward at the end.

A good reward is something that makes you feel good. It’s the immediate payoff for completing your habit. Psychologists talk about instant and delayed gratification. Instant gratification is wanting immediate results. Delayed gratification is being able to wait for the results. Generally the results of delayed gratification are bigger. The results of your habit, for example doing pushups, usually wont be immediate. To help build your habit it is important to build in some form of instant gratification.

The type of reward that will be most effective will depend from person to person. For some people the satisfaction of putting an “X” in a chart showing you have done your habit for the day is a reward. For other people, some positive self talk like telling yourself you are proud of you because you did your reward will be a good reward. For other people allowing themselves a guilty pleasure like watching an episode of their favorite reality TV show will be a good reward. It should be noted that rewards should not undo the benefit of your habit, for example rewarding yourself with eating a bowl of candy is not a good reward for eating salad for dinner!