A lot of us strive to hit the gym consistently and commit 100% to our health. We want to work hard, push ourselves, fight to achieve our goals and hit our next level of personal success. Unfortunately, the grind can be extremely difficult to embrace at times.
Even the most dedicated fitness fanatics and ambitious athletes can grow bored and unmotivated when it comes to their training. Every now and then we need a boost of motivation. One of the best methods of motivation is creating a reward system for yourself. As human beings we love the natural feeling that comes with accomplishment. We enjoy being productive, accomplishing something great, and then being rewarded for that accomplishment. Below are 5 ideas that you can utilize to create an effective reward system for yourself, so that you can feel good about your victories and not get burnt out.
1.Plan out your reward system
One of the best ways to ensure that your reward system actually ends up being implemented is to plan it out and create a proper schedule for yourself. Yes, rewards should be fun and there should be some flexibility allowed for spontaneous activity, but we need to take some time to plan things out. If we fail to plan, we’re planning to fail!
Your rewards don’t need to be perfectly planned out or perfectly scheduled, but a consistent system should be set in place. You can reward yourself every month for hitting monthly goals, every week for weekly goals, or even every day for hitting daily goals. You can even mix it up and do some combination of daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Whatever the frequency of the reward, pick one that resonates best with you and stick with it!
Once you’ve decided on how frequent your reward should be, figure out a reliable way to track your progress. Tracking your progress can certainly be a pain in the butt because it takes extra time, but it will help hold you accountable and provide a visual of how much you’ve actually accomplished. Everyone will differ in their own preferences, but you can track your activity in a notebook, journal, spreadsheet, cellphone, white board, and so many other ways. Pick a centralized place to track your activity and commit to it! You’ll be surprised at how much (or how little) you achieve when you write things down.
2.Eat your favorite dessert
As people that work out, we can be rather health-conscious when it comes to the type of food we eat. Maybe you worked super hard this past year and lost 20 lbs. If that’s the case, you might feel really guilty whenever you eat junk food. There’s nothing wrong with eating healthy and avoiding junk food, but we always have to remember to enjoy life. What good is having a sexy body and living a long life if you can’t enjoy your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Some might go so far as to say that you’re doing your overall health a disservice by not enjoying delicious sweets from time to time. Being happy and feeding your mental health is just as important as your phyical well-being, so allow yourself to indulge in your favorite dessert, especially if you’re making progress at the gym. Stock up on your favorite desserts, and then reward yourself at the end of the week if you’ve hit your fitness goals. If you want to motivate yourself even further, put a picture of your favorite dessert as the background image in your cell phone or iPod and stare at it whenever you hit the gym.
3.Eat at the best restaurant in town
Who doesn’t love to eat out at beautiful restaurants? Sometimes eating out can take a toll on our budgets, so we need to limit ourselves from eating out too frequently. What better way to create an excuse for eating at the best restaurant in town than by using it as a reward for hitting the gym, eh?
We all want to save money and be healthy, but let’s be honest with ourselves: cooking our own meals at home every night gets extraordinarily boring. Again, life is about experiences! Every month, pick one of the best restaurants in town and set it as your target. If you hit your goal for the month, whether it’s hitting the gym 12 times throughout the month or losing 5 pounds, reward yourself by eating at that restaurant. Think about it, visualize it, talk about it, and obsess about it. Your gourmet meal will taste 10 times better than normal if it’s given as reward for hitting your monthly goal.
4.Throw a party
Whether you’re the life of the party or the person who prefers to stand in the back and sip your beer, just about everyone enjoys a good party. Set a monumental goal for a given month. It can be whatever type of goal that resonates with you, but make it challenging and quanitifiable. For example, make it your mission to lose 15 pounds in a month, or run a 5k in under 24 minutes, or complete 15 pull-ups with perfect form, or finish 1000 total push-ups throughout the month. Once your mission is accomplished, throw a party the following month and invite your friends and family to celebrate with you.
We organize parties and attend parties for weddings, anniversaries, farewells, and graduations, but how frequently do we celebrate our health-related victories? It seems pretty ironic, but we seldom celebrate victories related to our health. It’s time we alter the standard and start earning the right to party by making healthy choices. And, by all means, you don’t need to throw a party like The Great Gatsby. Tuxedos, expensive champagne, fancy dresses, and behemoth houses aren’t necessary. A party could be as simple as gathering a group of your friends and going to the club, or inviting your family over for pizza and cake.
If consuming cake, pizza, and beer is off-limits for you, feel free to get creative and make it a health-related party! Invite all your friends out on a hiking trip, a day of sailing, or over to your home to do some group exercises together. A party doesn’t have to be filled with unhealthy choices. It can be as fun and health-conscious as your creativitiy will allow!
5.Take a vacation
Have you ever had a vacation that you really wanted to take, but just didn’t seem to have the time, resources, or reason to see it through? Well, one excellent way to drive yourself to take that dream vacation is to achieve some long-term fitness goals. A vacation isn’t exactly something you should treat yourself to every week or every month, but could certainly be a great incentive for achieving 6-month or 12-month milestones.
Take 20 or 30 minutes out of your day to sit down and brainstorm a list of vacation ideas. Don’t worry about price or time commitment. Focus on the types of vacations you’d love to take if time and money weren’t an issue. Think about all the places you haven’t visited yet and all the activities you’ve yet to fully experience. Whether it’s a backpacking trip throughout Europe, a week on the beaches of Hawaii, a fishing trip in Alaska, walking on top of the Great Wall of China, or visiting an African Safari, feel free to make your list of vacation ideas as adventurous as possible. Feel free to dream big, but also include some ideas that might not be that extravagant, but might be things that you’ve been yearning to do for quite some time. Such ideas might include going on a week-long camping trip, visiting long-distance family members, or attending a conference or retreat.
No matter how big or small your goals appear to be, don’t be afraid to reward yourself. Even if it’s filling your belly with a slice of calorie-packed German chocolate cake every week for being dedicated enough to run on the treadmill each morning, there’s no need to feel guilty. Our hard work and ambition toward a healthier life should be rewarded.
You may be tired. You may be ready to give up. You may have lost all passion for working out. Figuring out a solid reward system that you can commit to, might be the one thing that invigorates you. Go out there, reward yourself for your achievements, and watch as your excitement for fitness reignites!