Rewards are Stalling Your Progress

goals habit progress reward self sabotage Feb 15, 2020

Let’s talk about habits and rewards.

It’s Coach Kasey here to chat about the behaviors that can help you achieve your fitness goals and those that may sabotage them. 

Many people use a rewards system to help them achieve their goals, which can be a great way to stay motivated. 

However, if you aren’t choosing the right kind of rewards, you might be sabotaging your progress.


How to Create a Habit


Creating a new habit goes as follows: cue, interpretation, action, reward⁣.

You also use tools to help you work towards your long-term goals. These tools include celebrating the small wins and finding ways to enjoy the process.

Something all this has in common — reward!

Rewards are fantastic, but only if used wisely.⁣

Things can get dicey when the reward for your progress or sticking with a new habit is counterproductive to your long-term goal or lifestyle change.⁣


Rewards are Sabotaging Your Progress

Here’s what I mean when I say the way you reward yourself might be sabotaging your progress.


Rewarding Yourself With Food

Say it’s been a long week, and the last thing you want to do is go to the gym, but you are working on the habit of getting in 4 workouts per week and want to lose 10 pounds by the end of the year.⁣

So you suck it up, get to the gym, and feel awesome about keeping this promise to yourself and working towards your goals. ⁣

Once you get home from the gym, you feel as though you’ve “earned” a reward and that Ben and Jerry’s is calling your name.

Next thing you know, you find yourself scraping the bottom of the pint, and you feel a little guilty because you probably didn’t need that much “reward.”⁣ But you aren’t too concerned because you did, after all, get to the gym four times this week (even when you didn’t feel like it!!)⁣.

Sound familiar??


Why Your Reward is Sabotaging Your Progress

The reality is that the reward you provide yourself for making progress is sabotaging your actual goal.⁣

Making progress shouldn’t be an excuse to take it easy. ⁣

The problem with progress is how it makes us feel and the satisfaction we get from it.⁣

We feel good when we do things that progress us towards our goals, but this becomes a problem when we settle for those good progressive feelings rather than keeping in mind our actual goal. 

It’s too easy to mistake a “goal-supportive action” (e.g., making it to the gym when you really didn’t want to) for the actual goal itself.⁣

Giving yourself too much credit for these small positive actions might make you feel like you “earned” counterproductive actions (e.g., that pint of Half Baked). 

These counterproductive actions pile up if you reward yourself with a pint of ice cream (or whatever treat you prefer) every time you do something difficult. Rather than progressing closer towards your goal, you’ll be setting yourself back. 


Actions That Support Your Goals

You can combat the problem of progress sabotage if you focus not just on progress alone but on how that progress indicates your commitment.⁣

Instead of asking yourself, “how much progress did I just make?”⁣

Try asking yourself, “how committed do I feel to my lifestyle change?”⁣

This simple shift in focus from progress as an indicator of success to progress as an indicator of overall commitment can mean the difference between:⁣


“Alright, I did that. I know I made progress. Now that I feel good, I can do what I really want to do.”⁣


“Alright, I did that. I know I made progress. It felt good because I wanted to do it, and I’m committed to changing my lifestyle for good.”⁣

Get into the habit of focusing on your overall commitment and your long-term goals, and you’ll find that you make progress more quickly. 


Reward Yourself


When it comes to rewarding yourself, whether it's for a small win or a big milestone, try to make the reward something that supports your long-term goals. 

There’s nothing inherently wrong with having some ice cream (in fact, at KJO Coaching, we encourage our clients to continue to fit in these kinds of food if you like them!), but food isn’t the only (or best) way to reward yourself. If you’re following a flexible diet (like tracking macros), you shouldn’t feel the need to treat yourself with foods because you can have them at any time!

A reward that supports your goals can be anything that gets you excited and keeps you committed to your long-term goals. 

Buy that new dress you’ve been eyeing, get a facial, or plan a staycation. 

Whatever your reward is, remember that it doesn’t have to be counterproductive to your goals. 


Create Better Habits


Are you struggling to create sustainable habits?

The coaches at KJO Coaching are experts (literally!) at helping people like you achieve their goals. 

We help you prioritize your health, fitness, wellness, and mindset so you can spend less time worrying about what to eat or how to get enough workouts in.

CLICK HERE to learn more and apply for coaching (you’ll get to book a FREE consult call, too!)

Check out my original post HERE.


Connect with us!

Email: [email protected]

IG: @coachkaseyjo @kjocoaching

Hi, I'm Kasey!

I coach, mentor, write, and teach with one main focus: Build strong bodies and healthy lifestyles, starting with your mindset.


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