Tips for Weight Loss: How to Set a Reward for Yourself!

Recently, I blogged about an $11,000 trip I am setting up as a reward for myself for getting to 200 pounds. I’d like to dive a bit deeper into why I set up this reward, and how you can do it too.

Why set a reward?

Often times, the reward set for weight loss is something small, like “I’ll go to the spa”, or “I’ll feel better”, or “The Weight loss is its own reward”. That’s phooey, I want something big. If I get to 200 pounds (which I haven’t been at since I was like 11) I want something that means it was worth it. I will likely set up rewards along the way as well (I’m thinking a flight to New York to see Book of Mormon at, say, 300 pounds) and I may even set up some anti-rewards, ala Tim Ferriss, but this is my final, major goal, and reward.
This is a fantastic, powerful reward…most would say.

This is also going to be a bit painful. You see, if I don’t hit my goal, then I will constantly see $11,000 sitting in this account, earning minimal interest. That is painful to someone who invests his money. This is a constant reminder of what I am saving, and why I am saving. The excitement of what is waiting at the end of the road is great, but when I need the motivation, I’ll have the pain of seeing so much cash sitting uninvested.

Choose a Good Reward – You Deserve It

This works for any goal setting – weight loss, weight gain, starting a business, learning a language (a great reward for learning a language is a trip to that country!), etc.
I am focusing on Weight loss in this post, because it is a universal goal.
If you need help setting a realistic weight loss goal, click here first.
Okay, have you set a goal? Great. Now it’s time to set a reward.
Here are your guidelines:
  • Your Reward must be tangible
  • Your Reward must be allowed only when your goal is met
  • Your Reward must be big and expensive*
  • Your Reward must be something you can brag about
  • Your Reward must be something that excites you
* Expensive is a relative term. If you make $40k/year, then a $2,000 reward might be expensive. If you make $500,000 a year, then $25,000 might be expensive. $11,000 is a lot of money to me, so I chose that, but I know that is way too much for many people as well – I had to do something really big for myself to be a kick in the a**.

Some suggestions for rewards:
  • A trip – Anything from a trip to a local amusement park, to a year long trip around the world
  • A car – For those who are making $500k/year
  • A new TV or other tech gadget (Phone, Game system, computer, etc.)
  • A 2 day spa retreat
  • A new pet (dog, cat, fish, mouse, snake, hamster, gerbil, alligator)
  • A really delicious meal at a fancy restaurant (best for non-weight loss goals)

How to Track a Reward

My preferred method for tracking a reward (not a goal) is a four pronged approach.
  1. Create a savings account just for your reward (this assumes your bank can support this, otherwise, use a spreadsheet, or a simple piece of paper)
  2. Set up the Goal in Mint to track how well you are moving toward your goal.
  3. Calculate how much your reward will cost, and when you are targeting to finish your goal (Mint can help with this)
  4. Set up an automatic draft into your reward account each month
    1. The equation to use is: Cost of reward/# of months until goal attainment = Monthly amount to save
Example:
I set up a new account in ING Direct (Capital One 360) called “Around the World” and funded it with $1,000
I set up the goal in Mint for $11,000, with the goal of achieving it by April, 2015
Mint told me I need to save $385 per month to reach my goal
I set up an automatic transfer into this account of $192.50, twice per month (when I get paid)
I created a third account in ING Direct
I then created the goal in Mint

This method forces you to commit to your goal. You are automatically putting money toward this reward, and by doing so, you are taking out one of the barriers that could trip you up: Your own psyche. Computers don’t tell little lies to themselves “well, it wasn’t the right reward”, “I could use this money elsewhere”, “I don’t need this, I have strong will power” – all a bunch of fear based BS. The computer will, every month, automatically transfer the cash.

This provides automatic incentive, and many, if not all of us, can absolutely use some automatic incentive.

As I set additional rewards for my journey, I will be using exactly this approach.

Final Step: Take Action Now

Isn’t this a great idea?

Yes, it is, so take 10 minutes right now to define a goal and a reward. I then will grant you 48 hours to refine or change your goal/reward.

But starting right now, take 10 minutes and define your goal and reward, a starting point at least.

I bet you already have a goal – perhaps one you’ve been talking about for the past 2 years or so, saying “I’m going to do it”. I bet it has been part of at least one broken New Years Resolution. Goals can be refined along the way, but pick an ultimate goal, and pick a reward…NOW.

When you are enjoying your trip, or car, or video game, or dinner, or whatever your reward is, I think you’ll be pretty happy that you took these ten minutes to set a goal, set your reward, and commit to changing your life for the better.

Your new life begins in 10 minutes, so get to it.

Bonus!

Here’s some more motivation. Visualize the goal. You have money sitting in front of you, but if you are just not motivated by money enough, then really visualize what the reward will be like!

For example: During my ’round the world trip, I will be finding this place, and staying there:

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