How Punishing Yourself Can Help You Reach Your Goals

When you’re setting fitness goals, it’s easy to follow all of the steps in setting ‘smart’ goals and telling yourself that you’re motivated by them. When push comes to shove, though, most of the time no one cares whether you meet them or not and if you start feeling guilty, you’ll be over it in a couple days.

But what if you had some form of punishment holding you accountable? Many studies have concluded we are more motivated by avoiding punishment than rewards. This is simply summed up by the term, loss aversion.

Now in setting goals, what kind of punishment could you enforce if you don’t achieve your goals?

Daily Annoyance

This takes some self-monitoring, but the short term punishment of removing something for a few days to create a daily pain will keep you taking action.

Example: Handy in your special parking pass. This means you need to park further away from the office for the weeks leading up to the goals deadline. The new change of routine is annoying, but keeps you on track as the only way you get the parking pass back is by completing the goal.

Create Competition

Competition between friends is always fierce, right? If you have a friend who is trying to complete a similar goal to you, you can try a situation where you both want to ‘out do’ each other.

Example: You both want to finish a half marathon in less than 90 minutes.

If you complete the goal, and your friend doesn’t they owes you XYZ and vice-versa. If you both complete the goal, you have the satisfaction of completing the task and if you both don’t complete it you both need to share a punishment.

Donate To A ‘Worthy Cause’

In worthy it means something you don’t believe in but others do. If you don’t complete a goal you need to donate $X to the opposition company. This hurts, especially if it’s something you are passionate about (politics works).

In worthy it means something you don’t believe in but others do. If you don’t complete a goal you need to donate $X to the opposition company. This hurts, especially if it’s something you are passionate about (politics works).

Embarrassment

Nothing is worse in life than being publicly shamed. You could come up with something you need to do in public that will make you go red. The key to doing this is sending a calendar invite to others so they can check up on you otherwise, your announcement on Facebook will quickly get lost.

Removal Of Perks

If you have a treat you’re privileged to each day, create a barrier between that reward and you. This might involve a work colleague who you need to look in the eye and say that you did indeed reach your goal that day or at least took steps towards the goal.

Goal setting isn’t easy. Especially with so many ways to set different goals, arbitrary dates and every single person are different. If you’re not truly motivated to set a goal, you’ll never achieve it. Unless you have the threat of a punishment. Humans are weird.

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