The Power of the Right Incentive

Every morning, my 10-year-old son is ready for school about 30 minutes in advance (i.e., before it’s time for him to leave). Often, he even wakes up on his own. In no time, he brushes his teeth, washes his face, gets dress, eats breakfast, prepares his school back—all without needing me (or mom) to do anything for him.

To the uninformed person, this may seem like an impressive display of responsibility from this 10-years-old boy—and maybe there’s a bit of truth in that. However, I should tell you why he is ready so in advance; he has a powerful incentive. It’s called Minecraft, a PC video game.

See, my son knows that, if he’s ready in advance, he’ll have a few minutes to play before leaving for school. Thus, he ensures all his tasks are done early enough so he would have time to play.

I notice a similar attitude with my other kids when it comes to eating their dinner. If they know that there’s a delicious dessert at the other end of the dinner, they’re eating their meal with appetite; they know that eating their meal is a prerequisite to them savoring dessert.

The right incentive can drive you to get things done fast, even things that you would otherwise procrastinate on. That’s the power of incentive.

You can learn to use the power of incentive to your advantage. The key is the find the right incentives: rewards that drive you to action on your important activities. You know what rewards would be the right incentives. Therefore, it’s up to you to determine which incentives will best motivate you to get things done.

Another key is that you must discipline yourself not to cheat by rewarding yourself before you’ve done your work; cheating would be like eating your dessert before you eat your meal.

If you’re struggling to get some of your important tasks done, you may consider attach them with a reward, which would act as an incentive and push you to take action. For example, you may allow yourself to watch a few minutes of television as a reward for cleaning up your garage. Knowing you’ll be able to watch your TV show after tidying up your garage can motivate you to get your work done—fast.

About The Author

Vladimir Elie

I help people learn and apply success principles and strategies so that they can get the results they want in life.