Use a Reward and Punishment System to Meet Your Goals

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Successfully taking long-term action to achieve goals starts by having enough reasons why you must do something and having enough reasons why not to avoid doing something. One of the things I’ve noticed during my coaching sessions is that many advisers are finding lasting motivation that is fueling their activity and putting them one step closer toward their goals.

Goals are the destination; taking action is the journey. Creating goals creates a type of pressure essential in moving “away from” where you are and “away to” your desired result.

Rewards create the why you must take action. To have strong rewards, connect your rewards system with other people. Here’s one way to do that:

  • Make three evenly spaced columns on a piece of paper
  • Label the first column “The 10 Most Important People in My Life”
  • Label the second column “Their Hobbies and Interests”
  • Label the third column “Rewards”

An example might be: my mother, shopping, a gift card to Barnes and Noble. A weekly reward might be that you buy your mother a gift card.

What I’ve described is a tool I created called the Advisor Solutions Rewards System Tracker designed to create and track rewards. By associating your rewards system with the positive feelings you get by giving to someone who is important to you, you are reinforcing the real power of rewards— feelings.

Some advisers have other forms of reinforcement that provide a stronger motivation. Here’s an example:

Gale is a 30-year industry veteran who found that daily rewards to others were not driving her enough to continue doing the necessary tasks to hit her goals. We brainstormed reward ideas but unfortunately nothing seemed exciting or motivating enough for her. So I asked her about her bucket list. Turns out she always wanted to go on an Alaskan cruise. I gave her the action step of mapping out the price, the time horizon of when she wanted to go and other details about the trip. She divided the price by how many months there were until the cruise, then divided the months by 20 business days to get her daily debit/credit reward system. Her magic number was $40 a day. She placed $40 in her vacation fund for each day she hits her goals. I suggested she “punish” herself by taking $40 out of the vacation fund for every day that she did not hit her goals. Gale now has more than $2,000 in her vacation fund!

If you would like the complimentary tools, The Advisor Solutions Reward System Tracker or The Advisor Solutions Debit/Credit Reward System, email me at for a copy.

Daniel C. Finley
Advisor Solutions Inc.
St. Paul, Minn.

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