The Reward

It’s that time of year again. You know- when we start to get all excited about setting our resolutions and goals, only to feel especially deflated when we can’t achieve the unachievable. Why is that? Well my sneaking suspicion is that we haven’t made the reward worth the work. I’m currently reading an amazingly interesting book called, The Power Of Habit. In it, author Charles Duhigg refers to our habits like loops. You first have the cue, the instigator or signal to your brain for your current habit, then the routine, the way you go about fulfilling your cue, and finally the payoff or reward. One of the BIGGEST New Year’s resolutions are fitness related and one of the BIGGEST disappointments come mid-February when all the steam has gone out of that goal and you are eating Bon Bons while staring at your gym membership card. So how do you retrain habits you ask? Well, according to Duhigg we can’t retrain them but we can create anew, and what better time than a NEW year?

To better understand how habits stick we have to look at the end of the cycle instead of the beginning. Many of us will start a workout on a whim, a new class on the fly, but what makes that guy on the spin bike next to you more committed than your sorry ass? The reward. Finding THE FEELING that makes you feel like it’s all worth it. It’s that feeling that will keep you coming back for more. Ever since 2011 I’ve decided enough with setting goals, and instead with the advice from Chris Brogan have been picking three words for the new year. This year though, I want to take it to another level and focus on that reward of feeling. How do I want to feel when I achieve my goals? My dreams? Focusing on the emotional payoff will get me where I need to be.



One of my favorite authors and speakers, Danielle LaPorte has tapped into this very thing. In her book, Fire Starter Sessions, she has a killer exercise called finding your Core Desired Feelings. Here’s the simple steps to figuring out how you’d like 2015 to feel:

  • Start by listing concepts, words, feelings, or images.
  • Next study your list and find out what jumps out at you. The goal is to narrow the list down to three.
  • If you’re having trouble look up the definitions which can spark certainty
  • Or go deeper with questions. For example if your word is feeling is confidence you’ll ask “what does confidence feel like?” over and over again until you’re sure. Sometimes you come up with a completely different word that is better defined, like confidence turning into clarity
  • Finally, write each word on a sticky note and try them on for a bit. See which ones stick and which you can toss away

I believe that living your best life is so much more than working hard but also knowing why it is your working!


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