Building Habits

Making habits rewarding

One of the challenges in building ‘healthy’ habits, is that the reward for engaging in them is often delayed in comparison to ‘less healthy’ habits. A new gym regime isn’t rewarding until you start feeling those gym gains, but lying on the sofa and watching Netflix gives us immediate reward in relaxation and distraction.

When we don’t feel the immediate impact of our efforts, we rely solely on our motivation and willpower to keep going – and these can often let us down. By thinking about how we can make our habits rewarding we stand a greater chance of successfully establishing them.

Here are five ideas to help make your habits rewarding:

Habit stacking

Pair your new habit with another activity that brings you pleasure. Combine your morning run with listening to your favourite podcast or allow yourself to eat that brownie once you’ve studied for an hour.

Develop a positive mentality

Telling yourself you ‘have to’, ‘should’ or ‘need to’ workout makes it feel like a chore. Thinking about the language you use when you talk to yourself is powerful. You might tell yourself ‘I get to workout today’, I’ll ‘treat myself to a workout today’ or ‘I’ll benefit from a workout today’ instead.

Focus on long-term outcomes

Consider what it is you are working towards, and clearly visualise what it will look, feel, sound, taste and smell like when you get there. Take a moment to visualise this image each day to remind yourself of your longer term goal.

Keep a habit tracker

Download a habit tracking app to record your progress, or use a wall calendar and a different colour Sharpie for each of your habits and tick them off each day.

As you build up a streak of consecutive days of performing your habit it becomes more and more satisfying to record your progress.  You’ll also be much less likely to sack one of them off if your 14 day streak is at stake.

Streaks is a great app for tracking habits, and seeing the screen flash on a day you achieve all of your habits is super satisfying.

Find a buddy

Most things are more fun when we do them together. Finding someone to accompany you as you build your habits can help keep you both on track, and you can encourage each other to keep going on those days you really aren’t feeling it. If you can’t be together, start a WhatsApp group to keep in contact and share your progress with each other.

How might you make your habits more enjoyable and rewarding?

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