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Grown-Up Gold Stars: Who said growing up means leaving the joy of rewards behind?

How to use rewards on your wellbeing journey.

How to use rewards on your journey to wellbeing.
Grown-Up Gold Stars

We often associate rewards with childhood accomplishments, like getting a gold star on a homework assignment or an extra scoop of ice cream for finishing our veggies. But what if I told you that rewards aren't just for kids? In fact, the concept of rewards can be a game-changer for adults too, especially when it comes to changing behaviours and achieving personal wellbeing goals. Here we explore how to use rewards on your journey to wellbeing.

The Science of Rewards

Research shows that rewards trigger the release of dopamine, the brain's feel-good neurotransmitter. This isn't limited to age; adults experience the same pleasure response as kids when rewarded. Dopamine plays a crucial role in motivation and reinforcement, making rewards a potent tool for behaviour change on your journey to wellbeing.

Why Rewards Work for Adults

1. Motivation Boost:

Just like a pat on the back motivates a child, adults respond positively to incentives. Whether it's reaching a fitness goal, breaking a bad habit, or achieving a milestone at work, knowing there's a reward waiting can significantly boost motivation.

2. Positive Reinforcement:

Rewards act as positive reinforcement, reinforcing the desired behaviour. This reinforcement strengthens the neural pathways associated with the behaviour, making it more likely to recur.

3. Breaking the Routine:

Adults often get stuck in routines, making it challenging to adopt new habits. Introducing rewards adds an element of excitement and novelty, breaking the monotony and making behaviour change more appealing.

4. Building Habits:

Forming new habits requires consistency. Rewards serve as a powerful tool to encourage repeated positive behaviors until they become ingrained habits. It's a bit like giving yourself a high-five every time you make a positive choice.

The Numbers Speak

Studies have shown that incorporating rewards into behavior change programs for adults can yield impressive results. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, individuals using financial incentives were more likely to stick to weight loss programs compared to those without incentives.

Reward Ideas for Grown-Ups

1. Treat Yourself:

Set a small wellbeing goal, and when you achieve it, treat yourself to something you enjoy, whether it's a spa day, a favourite meal, or a new book.

2. Create a Rewards Jar:

Write down various rewards on slips of paper and place them in a jar. When you hit a wellbeing milestone, pick a slip from the jar for a surprise reward.

3. Time Off:

Grant yourself a guilt-free day off or an afternoon to indulge in hobbies without any other responsibilities.

4. Learning Opportunities:

Invest in your personal or professional development as a reward. This could be enrolling in a course, attending a workshop, or buying a book in an area of interest.

5. Celebrate Progress:

Acknowledge and celebrate small wins along the way. Progress is a journey, and each step forward deserves recognition.

Embrace Your Inner Child

So, the next time you achieve a wellbeing goal or conquer a challenging task, don't hesitate to reward yourself. Whether it's with a literal gold star, a special treat, or a well-deserved break, embracing your inner child and celebrating your accomplishments can make the journey of adulting a lot more fun and rewarding.

After all, who said growing up means leaving the joy of rewards behind?

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