Doggie treats don't work well on humans
The other day, I was talking with a friend of mine on the phone.
He wanted to know my thoughts on what I call the "doggie treat solution" to habit formation.
Here's how it works:
Let's say that you want to meditate each morning, but you just can't get yourself to do it with any regularity.
You decide to give yourself a treat (maybe some chocolate) after each attempted meditation session.
The theory is that the chocolate acts as a reward, strengthening your desire to meditate again... and again... and again...
I've heard of people doing stuff like this before, and it complies with decades of behaviorist research.
But I've never actually heard of someone successfully using this tactic to build a habit of any consequence.
Years ago, I read some blog post by one of these so-called "life hackers" who claimed that they used this tactic to build out all sorts of useful habits.
But I never trusted those claims, and I don't think gobbling dark chocolate is a good way to build strong habits.
A much better approach is to gain a deeper understanding of your goals, and then do some serious thinking about which behavior (or behaviors) would most easily lead you to your desired outcomes.
To do this properly, you need to be self aware. You have to understand your strengths and weaknesses. You have to possess an accurate picture of your personality.
Only at that point will you be able to choose a behavior that you'll like doing--a behavior that will effortlessly become a habit.
This is one of my main problems with the behavioral science world. It spends a ton of time developing tricks and tactics that help people do things that they don't really want to do... but it spends almost no time or effort developing tools that help people figure out what the *right* behaviors are for their goals (given their personalities, quirks, etc.).
Luckily, you now know better.
This is going to be one of the main things I'm going to talk about this year: the process of picking the right behaviors for your goals.
In fact, this is the focus of my behavior-change method: The SPARK Method.
My first pilot program for SPARK went really well, and I'm almost done with the second version of the course (which incorporates all the feedback I received).
If you're interested in being a part of the next class, shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). When I'm ready to take new students, I'll let you know.