I’ve been reading an interesting book about willpower, The Willpower Instinct, by Kelly McGonigal. It’s both an explanation of how willpower works and a manual for strengthening it.
A few chapters ago, one of the exercises was to reward yourself for doing whatever you put off: drink hot chocolate while doing paperwork, watch television while working out, scratch off a lottery ticket every time you complete a household project. (Those are examples of what her students have done when she’s taught this as a class.)
Which got me wondering about rewarding myself for writing. I’ve tried this in the past, and it didn’t work. It didn’t work over the past couple weeks, either. Apparently I’m just not a reward-driven person. Whatever my goal, I’m not going to reward myself with food or time, since either would be counterproductive. (“I wrote a chapter! Time to take an evening off!” leads down a bad road.)
Rewarding myself with money/things doesn’t work either. I’m pretty frugal by nature, which means a) there’s not much I want enough to make it an appealing reward, and b) if I really want something, I tend to buy it because that doesn’t happen all the time. I was going to buy myself a piece of jewelry when I got a hundred rejections, but never got around to it. I was going to buy a new bike after I did a triathlon last fall, but never got around to that either (I might get one this summer, because I want one rather than as a reward for a race I did months ago).
Rewards just don’t seem like a useful motivational tool for me–my reward for writing is getting stories done. Do rewards work for you?