Why Incentives Help You Achieve Your Goals

When it comes to making goals, we often forget an important aspect: the reward. You can argue that achieving the goal in and of itself is the reward, and in most cases, I’d agree. However, there are some goals where having an additional incentive may encourage you to stick it out longer, than if you were doing it just for the goal achievement itself.

If the goal is going to take time and focused effort to achieve, then setting incremental benchmarks can be useful. The concept is similar to how you create your 90 Day Plan, and in fact compliments your endeavors. Identify your long-term goal, and then figure out what you can do in smaller, bite-sized chunks. Then choose things from your bucket list (i.e. fun things you desire to do/see, but you never seem to have the time to do) that would match the effort it is going to take for you to reach each of the milestones.

For example, getting a promotion at work that you know you should go for soon, but that you are not that motivated to try right now. True the benefit is a pay raise, but if you are holding yourself back, because you are listening to negative tapes in your head telling you that you are not good at test taking, studying, or paperwork, then an outside incentive linked to something you very much want to do or have may help you achieve this goal. And, achieve it sooner, rather than later.

So, in this promotion example, as you identify if you have the pre-requisites and find out what training you will need to take, link a reward to passing the tests or the actual promotion itself. If you’ve always wanted to go scuba diving, spend a day at a spa, or ride a dirt bike, then promise yourself that you will do it once you’ve achieved your goal.

The key is to plan out how long it will take you to achieve your goal. If it is going to take longer than a week or even 3 months, then it is a good idea to celebrate your small victories along the way as well. So, for example, if it is a big step for you to approach your boss and let her or him know you’re interested in more responsibility, then celebrate on a smaller scale after you’ve sat down with your boss—buy a snorkel, get the helmet, or pick out what treatments you want to get done at the spa. Just remember, if the step that you need to take needs external motivation to get you started, then attach a reward to that step.

Pasting visual pictures of what your goal will look, feel, smell, taste, and sound like once you’ve achieved it—right next to the picture of you on the dirt bike or at the spa can help you on the rough days when you don’t feel like going after your goal. When you’re tired of being just outside of your comfort zone, and are happy to slide back into what you had been doing—look and visualize what you have to gain.

And, by all means, when you’ve hit the milestones, don’t forget to cash in on your reward. Celebrate. If you keep plodding on to the finish line without picking up energy boosts, then it may seem a lot further to go than the actual distance you have left to achieve success.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd
Mars Venus Coaching
Corporate Media Relations