The Goal Setting Habit - Rewards?

Wonder what everyone is using for rewards? I’m looking for new ideas that don’t sound cheesy or hollow.

In the past I’ve used things like new socks, pizza, burger, movie night…

Trying to move beyond food or buying stuff.

A couple I’ve written down this time around.

  • Congratulate yourself for completing all 3 MTP workouts scheduled for the week.

  • Know that you will feel good for doing this

  • Remind yourself that is a win

That’s the thing I oft find with motivation type ‘programmes’. After 6m I run out of new ways of looking at it.
So rather than write down a reward I simply tell myself to go do whatever I want afterwards - like after a decent FF, I’ll sometimes break the ‘plan’ by doing a recovery ride after, or something else like go do non-plan stuff outdoors …


A lot of what you wrote down sounds similar to a CD-series that my company made my entire team listen to over 20 years ago. I actually found it very useful.

Good examples are to not tell yourself you can’t eat that, or not allowed that, but to say to yourself I don’t want that. One sounds like a bad thing as it’s restricting you, the other way is a positive way of saying the same thing that it’s a choice you have made for good reasons. This is similar to your “Know you will feel good for doing this” that you wrote.

Other things I found useful - “I don’t want to go for a run”, but I do want to see friends. Why not go for a run/ride with friends and have a chat while you do a recovery ride. It’s a bit hard during covid, but the same concept can be applied to many different areas.


Yes, this is definitely difficult for me, as well.

Sometimes I reward myself with:
a few minutes of extra cool down.
a few minutes of extra rest once i’m done.
the positive feelings from a successful workout.
doing something I want to do that’s fun, but not exercise.

Yes. It’s definitely hard to find rewards that aren’t food or buying stuff. And even those get repetitive. The best reward I have found is just finishing and doing well and enjoying the exercise, itself. If I do workouts and challenges that I enjoy, then the process is it’s own reward. But, like right now, I’m in between challenges and suddenly finding it hard to get out of bed and on the bike, even tho I know when I’m on the bike and after I’m done with it, I will enjoy it. Motivation is hard.


Chocolate. Motivation and reward is always chocolate :grinning:


I, too, find it very difficult to give myself rewards.

My problem is that I was raised in the fashion of the German proverb: “Nicht geschimpft ist genug gelobt.” In other words, not being criticized is praise enough.

After working through the Mental Training Program and doing “The Bat” (which I recommend as a practicum for positive thinking in general), I am teaching myself to accept that by finishing each workout, or even a subpart of a workout I accomplished something hard towards my ultimate goal. Even if the workout was not perfect, I am in better shape both physically and mentally then I was yesterday.

I try to make the work itself the reward, and not use something extrinsic to the process.


I’ve struggled with this too in the past. After doing The Bat last night, it stuck me that the ‘reward’ section focussed on congratulating yourself for a job well done/finishing the workout/getting the effort done, rather than material rewards.


That’s what I’ve written down for each week this first month.

I was terrible and never gave myself rewards along the way. But then I blew my Mt Sufferlandria out the water and rewarded myself with n+1


I don’t need rewards, being able to suffer is reward enough in itself (and chocolate off course :smiley: )


I like this discussion. I’d struggled with coming up with rewards that weren’t food/drink/buying stuff as @ErickT mentioned in his original post. I need to think about other types of rewards like the satisfaction of completing a workout or block of training well.


My reward is always $10 in the new kit/bike bling fund. And a big attagirl.


I find myself saying “attaboy” all the time after a big effort. Along with “dig deep, you got this…”, followed by a quick “told you so”.

Breaking the longer rides into small segments so it’s count up rather than a count down is also useful for me. i.e. I’ve achieved so many, each segment is one less to do.


I can, today, not swim front crawl beyond the point where I have to start breathing.
I have just recently started to ride a proper road bike.
I hate everything that has only remotely to do with lifting.
I want to qualify for Hawaii. In this life. And eeehm, if possible before I hit age group 90+.

You can trust me, there is but ONE big reward for everything I do. Every meter I swim is one meter across the ocean towards Hawaii, every km on the bike is one km on my 300 times I will probably have to circle the Earth before I’ll be a proper rider, and every kg I lift is… I have no bloody clue, I ran out of analogies here.
Anyway, Hawaii is my big reward, somewhere at the end of a veeeeeery long journey.

But, you might laught about it, it works!


Hmmm… having the big goal AS the big reward! Nice way to stay focused on the training. So what’s the big reward for the big goal?

Nah, I might allow myself an extra scoop of ice cream. And misery sprinkles, of course!

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I tried to do the mental toughness program, but stopped literally after trying to set goals and rewards. I set a goal of being able to do 200 km in a day, but soon realized that this is completely arbitrary and wouldn’t mean anything if/when I finally got there. Metrics like FTP are likewise just numbers. As for rewards, I already eat pretty healthy and stick to my training plan. I’m currently in a lockdown and live alone, and struggle to come up with anything that doesn’t involve food or TV without having to first deprive myself of something in my already not-very-exciting lockdown life. Unless you’re an athlete looking to win competitions, I’m not really sure this program is for everybody. Please prove me wrong!

Ha. Can’t prove anything sadly.

But I understand … and this is where it’s all just what works for some and so on. Different things motivate different people.

I’ve followed this through more than once. I use numbers. Has it made any difference? Probably not for the targets. I’ve certainly not got vaguely close to what I thought were sensible targets never mind stretch ones.

BUT Having said all that - with the right self belief some days I do have better outcomes and using some of the MTP sessions can help me get myself into a better place and clock out the constant distractions

There is a good quote in the MTP workbook from Thomas Jefferson: “Nothing can stop the person with the right mental attitude from achieving their goal; nothing on earth can help the one with the wrong mental attitude.”

I think the MTP program is what you make of it. My true goal is staying fit as I age so I can ride with friends and enjoy the outdoors. I do some racing but generally the races are events to connect with friends and other riders. Before I started SUF I just went to the gym and rode my bike with no plan whatsoever. I always felt that I could be a better rider if I just was more organized. I like the structure of MTP as it helps me better define where I want to be and is helping me get there.

The mental toughness program is more than just goal setting. There are three other habits, as well as the event preparation program. You should take a look at the rest of the program.

I would bet that you are setting goals, even if you do not do it explicitly.

How do you decide which plan to choose, or which workouts to do? What do you sacrifice in your life to enable you to ride either outside or inside? Which workouts do you push through when the going gets tough? How often do you do a workout? Do you do Sufferfest exclusively, or do you use other programs?

Behind each of those decisions are implicit goals, perhaps contradictory ones.