Avoid using short-term rewards as a motivational tool.

Intrinsic motivation, i.e., motivation from within, typically produces much more effective results than external motivation, such as a short-term reward system.

Using short-term rewards to motivate others, or yourself, to complete a task is rarely the most effective motivational tool you can use. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Generally speaking, it’s best to use short-term rewards as a last resort for tasks that cannot be completed without any other external motivational tools.


  1. Understand what short-term rewards are.
    Short-term rewards are any rewards meant to incentivize you, or anyone else, to complete a certain task. For example, you might choose to reward your daughter with a candy bar after she completes her homework everyday.

  2. Understand how short-term rewards work in the long term.
    Short-term rewards tend to promote a narrow-minded way of thinking in which completing the task is more important than completing it in the right manner. Not only do short-term rewards crush creativity, but they can also promote unethical behavior. Furthermore, studies show that short-term rewards can actually decrease your intrinsic motivation in the long term.

  3. Identify the circumstances in which short-term rewards are effective.
    Short-term rewards are very effective when it comes to routine and repetitive tasks, largely because there is very little intrinsic motivation pushing anyone to complete such tasks, and external motivation is necessary.


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