Internal Reward: The Inner Drive That Helps You Stick With Your Goals

One of things that is an absolute must for remaining consistent in any area of your life is knowing why it is a MUST for you , a strong reason. Not just any reason, your reason has to be so emotionally compelling that not seeing your hard work manifest would be worse than dying. This is what will pull you many days to keep at it, even on the days when you really don’t feel motivated to get it done (For example me as I’m writing this article at 11pm in the night).
However, the challenge with this is you also need patience to be able to wait, maybe for a long time to actually achieve the results you’re after. In waiting, between the frustrations, the disappointments, the pain of working towards a goal, it can be difficult to really see the point, and sometimes even forget why you’re doing this in the first place. As human beings our brains crave instant gratification, and unless we can experience this instant gratification it’s very unlikely that we’ll stick with the activity long enough and consistently enough to achieve the goal.
Here’s where Internal Reward is key.

How to Give Yourself the Instant Reward You Desire

Charles Duhigg in his book The Power of Habit, states that in order to form a habit you need 3 things to happen in a specific order:
  1. Trigger– what jolts or stimulates you into taking action
  2. Action/Routine– the actual act of doing the activity
  3. Reward– the prize you give yourself for taking action
What I really want to focus on is the third part of this process, the Reward.
The purpose of the Reward is to make you feel good after taking action, so you’ll want to do the activity again in the future, and get the feeling again. Our brains crave instant gratification, so an immediate Reward is necessary to keep us going. Think of it as you taking your child for ice cream because he/she did their homework. The ice cream act as the Reward to encourage the child to do more homework in the future, to get good grades, thus getting more ice cream.
In the case of achieving your goals, the Reward is necessary in remaining consistent until you eventually get to the ultimate Reward you are after (the achievement of your goal). Now there are two types of Rewards:
  1. External Reward– anything on the outside that can be stimulated by any of the five sense (touch, taste, sight, sound, and smell). It can be ice cream, it can be allowing yourself to watch your favourite television program, or it can be a glass of wine
  2. Internal Reward– the Emotions you experience on the inside that you can FEEL, but cannot be directly stimulated by any of the five senses. These are Feelings of Pride, Determination, Confidence, Joy, Accomplishment, pretty much any positive emotion that you can think of that gives a good feeling
Most people will typically focus on the External Reward because it is easier, quicker, gives a rush of excitement and goodness. Now if you choose to use this Reward there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, I have as well. However, what I have discovered in my own journey and with others I coach is the Internal Reward is far more powerful, and last longer than the External. The problem with the External Reward is:
  • It doesn’t last. As soon as you have that ice cream, watch that program, or had that glass of wine and it’s over, then you can no longer enjoy the gratification you get from it
  • It isn’t always accessible. If your Reward is ice cream for example, what happens if you execute your routine, but now there is no ice cream to reward you, what you have now done is create a craving that isn’t satisfied in the moment, which affects the process of conditioning the brain to keep going
  • It can get boring. One thing with us as humans is if we are exposed to the same stimuli too often then it becomes dull and unexciting after a while. Ever hear the saying “Familiarity breeds contempt” (yeah like that). The first few days the Reward will excite you and you will want to execute your activity to get the Reward again, however, after a while it can easily lose its appeal and in-turn lose its effectiveness in helping to keep you consistent

Internal Reward is far more powerful and effective in LONG-TERM consistency:

  • It lasts a long time. The wonderful thing about Internal Reward is even long after you have done the activity the feelings still stay with you. You still FEEL Confident, Proud, Accomplished, etc. The hidden gem is because you have experienced these feelings it also helps in developing an empowered self-image and self-esteem that makes you feel as though you could conquer the world. This is because these feelings compounded over time creates a more powerful self
  • It is ALWAYS accessible. The best way I can explain this power is think of a time when you did something that you never thought was possible, but you did it anyway…how did you feel after? Chances are pretty damn good! Now here’s the power. If you should close your eyes and replay that moment or experience in your mind, how do you feel? Chances are if you imagine clearly enough still pretty damn good! Even after the experience has long pass, the positive emotions you experienced then is still with you long after. These feelings never leave you and can never fade, you can bring them forth and feel AMAZING again at any time you choose. This is really helpful in helping to remaining consistent, especially in taking action
  • It NEVER gets boring. Actually it’s the opposite effect, with these feelings the more you experience them the more you crave to experience them. They are limitless in keeping you consistent and continuously improving. This is because when you FEEL empowered, it’s a feeling we all desire to have, we want to FEEL Bold, Confident, Certain, Courageous, we want to feel like our best selves. Once we can experience these feelings, and more importantly we know what created them in the first place, we will want to continuously want to recreate them, and feel this way because it gives us a sense of control and power over ourselves and over our lives

Next Action Step

  1. Pay attention to how you feel before the routine and make a note of it
  2. After you have done the routine, celebrate and congratulate yourself for the amazing job you just did. Then pay attention to how you feel right after, and identify what positive feeling(s) do you notice that are different from before you started the routine, and make a note of it
  3. Now pay attention to your body, what’s your facial expression like, what’s your posture or body stance like, what’s your hands and feet doing, even pay attention to how you are breathing, take notice and make a note of everything
  4. Close your eyes and just soak up every bit of the emotions you are experiencing and just feel good in the moment
Now the purpose of this exercise is so you can mentally record the entire experience in your mind as vividly or clearly as possible. That way it begins to create a strong desire or craving that makes you want to do the routine again so you can have this incredible feeling once again.


To wrap up, remember I’m not saying you can’t have External Rewards, it can still work in helping you remain consistent. However, I am saying that if you want to be consistent long-term, and develop positive habits, then the best approach is to pay attention to your Internal Rewards or Emotions.

Quick Tip!

Though Internal Reward is a powerful technique in helping you remain consistent, you also want to have other factors and influences working together to also help. There are days when Internal Reward, or no one factor on its own will be enough. This is why you also need others to help you such as:
  1. Why it is a MUST to remain consistent in this area
  2. What will be the consequence if you are not consistent
  3. Having a Trigger to get you going
  4. Being in the best environment to increase the likelihood of consistency in this area
Understand all the factors that affect consistency and how to use them to your advantage.
To your success my friend!

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