Use self-bribery for success… Whaaaat?

6714749721_b593a694a5_oWould you like to form a new habit, but find it difficult, because it’s less than desirable?

Studies show that if you pair it with a guilty pleasure, you are more likely to succeed.

Many try to make changes and then eventually fall back into the same routine, because it’s comfortable, what’s familiar, and more desirable. A prime example is do you ever notice how packed gyms are from January to February-ish? Then wide open the rest of year. Case and point.

A recent study written by Knowledge@Wharton suggests that you can indulge your way to forming new less than pleasant habits. A professor noticed that she could successfully lure herself to the gym by only allowing herself to read her favorite books there and only there. Intrigued by this mentality, she decided to explore it a little further.

She then combined forces with a health care management professor and Harvard professors to publish the recent paper, “Holding the Hunger Games Hostage at the Gym: An Evaluation of Temptation Bundling.”

What they discovered was that:

The nine-week study surveyed 226 students and faculty that belonged to a university gym and they had all expressed interest in exercising more. Participants were divided into three groups. One got iPods loaded with four trendy audiobooks of their choice, but were only allowed to access them at the gym. The second group got the same audiobooks, but were allowed to take them home while being encouraged to only access them at the gym. The third and final group were each given a $25 gift card (about the same value as the four audiobooks) and encouraged to workout more.

The researchers found that those who had gym-only audiobooks attended the gym 51% more than the control group with gift cards and 29% more than the group encouraged to self-restrict their audiobooks access to the gym only.

So what does all this mean? Knowledge@Wharton suggests that if you overindulge in pedicures, shopping, lattes, etc. Then, why not use these guilty pleasures as rewards to motivate you to complete difficult tasks or assignments?

This technique ultimately leads to self-bribery, but who cares as long as it gets us to complete less than favorable tasks eh?

I personally use music and Netflix to bribe myself to go to the gym. If that doesn’t work, sometimes I even use food to bribe myself as well. I use Netflix to distract myself from how long I’ve been on a treadmill or an elliptical machine and music to keep me going through my weight-training, cycling and running. These methods are very effective, because I’m usually just staring at the elapsed time on the machine or counting my steps and subconsciously tormenting myself.

If that isn’t enough on a day where I’m struggling with motivation, then I may reward myself with some of my favorite food and/or a beer after. I kind of earned it by burning calories and freeing up some room in my diet right?

Does anyone else out there use self-bribery to complete unfavorable tasks or to develop new healthy habits? After all, science has proven that it’s worth a shot and does actually work.

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5 Replies to “Use self-bribery for success… Whaaaat?”

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