Day 19: Healthy incentives for a healthier life

posted in: Wellness | 0

Today you are going to break your HARD goals from Day 5 down into smaller steps. You’ll create healthy incentives for when you accomplish them. You’ll learn how to make them and why they are important for a healthier life.

You might be thinking that incentives and rewards are for kids, but they help anyone who is working towards a goal. Incentives will help motivate you to make better decisions about your health.

Incentives work because people respond to them, They provide a way to reward yourself faster than when you reach a big goal.

Achieving goals = healthy incentives

Before creating your incentives you’ll need to break down your goals into steps. Go get the HARD goals that you wrote. Once you have the goals – find one or two that you really want to work on.

Ask yourself is this goal achievable? If you don’t believe you can accomplish this task then there is no reason to keep it. If you said no, you can either make the goal smaller or take it off your list – if it isn’t that important to you.

Once you have a goal that you know you can achieve – you’ll need to break it down into steps. Get a piece of paper and brainstorm everything you need to do in order to accomplish your goal. This list could include things such as walk after dinner with the kids, buy healthier snacks for everyone, make more meals at home, and only go to the grocery store with a list.

After you’re done with that list you’ll make another list. Brainstorm why you wouldn’t be able to achieve your goals. What is standing in your way? It could be anything – your mindset, family not on board, or you don’t know how to do it.

When you’ve made both lists – ask yourself again, can I reach this goal? If not, you’ll have to figure out why not. Which problem above is stopping you from attaining it? Adjust the goal, so that you know you can reach it.

Why would you follow this approach? The first list will give you steps and ideas of how to accomplish your goal. The second list will help you understand what is standing in your way.

Once you’ve done both and still think that you are able to accomplish the goal – you’ve made a commitment on your part subconsciously. You’ve decided that you are capable of accomplishing your goal even with the challenges you brainstormed that might come up.

Now that you have the steps it takes to get your goals done – you need to set up incentives.

healthy incentives, packed lunch
Photo: Rubbermaid Products on Flickr

How do I get the goodies?

There are a few ways to go about doing this. You’ll learn two methods and can pick the one that works for you.

The first is pretty straight forward. You take the steps you’ve brainstormed on your list and then put a deadline or time frame in which you’d like to accomplish them. After that time you have earned the reward you’ve paired with that task.

For example you could say, “I want to walk 5 minutes after dinner every single day. After two weeks I am going to buy myself a book that I want.”

You create your reward based on the time it takes to complete or the difficultly of the action. Not all activities are created equal. Make the action challenging enough it takes some effort on your part, but not so challenging that you’re never going to get it done.

Another way is to give yourself points. Make a list of small actions that will move you toward your goal and assign points. The list that you brainstormed above might work depending on how small the steps are that you wrote out.

Here is a list of 20 that can get you started. (Adjust the points to fit you).

1. Eat fruit 3 times a day (2 points)
2. Drink four 8-ounce glasses of water a day (3 points)
3. Stretch for 1 minute, 3 times a day (1 point)
4. Walk 3 times a week for 15 minutes each time (50 points)
5. Eat 1 treat a day for a week (instead of unlimited!) (25 points)
6. Eat whole grain 3 times a day (6 points)
7. Meditate for 10 minutes once a day (10 points)
8. Do yoga for 7 minutes (7 points)
9. Take the dog for a walk for 10 minutes (10 points)
10. Do 10 squats (5 points)
11. Drink one less soda every day for a week (40 points)
12. Eat a dinner with low calories (30 points)
13. Eat oatmeal for breakfast (5 points)
14. Get rid of junk food from your pantry (30 points)
15. Use olive oil for cooking (5 points)
16. Exercise for 5 minutes for the next 30 days (150 points)
17. Drink a fruit smoothie every day for 4 weeks (100 points)
18. Stretch every morning for 5 minutes for 21 days (115 points)
19. Cook dinner for 30 days straight (200 points)
20. Pack your lunch for 30 days (100 points)

Your points would be based on how hard the task is for you to complete. You can have daily points, weekly points, and monthly points. There is no right or wrong answer here and you can adjust them if they are too easy or hard. You can also change the numbers if you’ve gotten into the habit and they aren’t as challenging to get done as before.

Time to pick healthy incentives!

Now brainstorm a list of incentives. You’ll need both small, inexpensive things as well as rewards that cost more money or even time. The bigger ones should be something that you have been thinking of for a while, but haven’t done yet for whatever reason. If you really want to do it or have it then rewarding yourself when you accomplish a goal will make the purchase that much better.

Take a look at the list below and use some or all of these. Make sure that you make your rewards meaningful to you. If you don’t you won’t try to accomplish the small actions.

Look at your family situation and figure out what you like to do. The list below could be used as an idea starter for you list. As you write the list – assign a point value to them as well. Take out things that aren’t important or you’re not interested in. Add ones that you are.

healthy incentives, massage, spa
Photo: kanoktham.massage on Flickr

Here is a list of 20 healthy incentives that you can use or expand on:

1. Kindle book under $5 (30 points)
2. Rent a Redbox movie (25 points)
3. Visit a friend (take wine) (75 points)
4. Purchase a new coloring book or craft supplies (100 points)
5. Buy a fun blouse you wouldn’t normally purchase (300 points)
6. Spa Day (1,500 points)
7. Plan a girl’s night out (800 points)
8. Hire someone to clean your house – this one would work especially well during the holiday season (1,000 points)
9. Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers (250 points)
10. Find an item that you collect and get it for yourself (300 to 1000 points – depends on price)
11. Download a song (100 points)
12. Massage from your significant other (200 points)
13. Night off from cooking (300 points)
14. Watch your favorite tv program…without interruptions (500 points)
15. Go to a concert (700 points)
16. Put money towards a special treat (horseback riding, hot air balloon, etc) (500 points)
17. Take a class in something you’ve been wanting to learn (belly dancing, cooking, sewing, painting) (1000 points)
18. Rent a fun car to drive for the day (600 points)
19. Buy supplies for a favorite activity (75 points)
20. Weekend away or staycation (3000 points)

Tip – If you are going to add food as an incentive, only do it once in a while. You don’t want to get in the habit of rewarding yourself with food.

Keep score and then celebrate!

Keep score of the points you’ve earned. You can do this by making a scoreboard, tracking the points in a journal (or piece of paper) or using your smartphone. However you decide to do it, you’ll need to keep both lists of points available.

If you like to compete, even if it is with yourself, adding a point value to your daily tasks will help you. You’ll try to see how many points in a day you can get. You’ll earn more and more incentives as you complete each thing on your list. This approach is game like.

Once you’ve broken down your goals into small, manageable steps and made incentives – you’re done for today. If you haven’t done your other daily habits, get those done as well.