As student in a BYU classroom management class I thought that classroom reward systems were a bunch of baloney. I thought that offering stickers for something students should be doing anyway would in fact decrease their intrinsic motivation. As a teacher, I later found out that that is absolutely true, but only for those 3 students that already have
intrinsic motivation. As it turns out, intrinsic motivation is not a quality a teacher can sufficiently instill in students in the short amount of time before self destruction due to insane amounts of stress caused by too many students in too small a space misbehaving. And so, I learned the merits of immediate reinforcement of positive behavior, and even bribery.
There are some things I do well, in large part due to intrinsic motivation. There are some things I do quite poorly, or not at all due to lack of intrinsic motivation. I'm coming to the realization that I could possibly create an outside source of motivation in order to create the habit, and perhaps discover the natural benefits of good behavior leading into good behavior caused by intrinsic motivation. Actually, for a psychology class once I taught myself how to get out of bed on the first ring of the alarm (rather than the 9th ring of 3 alarm clocks) through a simple reward system, but even as I put my stickers on my chart, I knew that the true motivation was that I was going to have to report on my experiment to my teacher.
Unfortunately, I seem to be fresh out of authority figures expecting me to report on my progress. In fact, I've mentioned my plan to a few people that could possibly motivate me, but none of them showed much interest. In not showing interest they lost all power as a motivator, because deep down I know it won't be a big deal to them if I fail. ( I didn't ask them to be authority figures, I just told them what I was thinking of improving on. They would probably be willing to be a motivator, but I wouldn't be motivated by them.) There are a few people that I can imagine would be very "encouraging" in this particular quest, but I really want to like those people, and I don't think I'm strong enough to continue liking someone who is already good at what I want to be good at who is continually encouraging
me to be better. (Jordan has bad memories of me on a bike encouraging her to run farther in training for the volleyball team. I have bad memories of Courtlin on a bike encouraging me to keep running. I think we still like each other, but only because we liked each other a whole lot before those experiences, and because we all had pretty much the same weakness.)
So, I decided that I need a tangible reward system. I'm going to create a chart, and make it daily more beautiful by filling in the boxes with pretty colored markers, but I know
that's not going to be enough motivation for this particular weakness. I need something special every perfect week or so. So, I started thinking, "What would be really motivating to me?" I'm having a really
hard time coming up with anything. The obvious answer for me would be some kind of really special dessert, except that in this case it would be working directly against eventually seeing the natural benefits of good behavior. So, that's out. What else do I really like? There are some material things I really like, books for example, but I really dislike spending money, and so I'm not sure the yucky spending money feeling will cancel out the "cool a book!" feeling. I really like spending time alone with Kevin, so I thought, maybe every so many perfect days I get to hire a babysitter and do something with him, but I'm not sure it's really fair to him
to deprive us of that in the case of poor behavior. So, I need some suggestions here. What do I really like? What will motivate me? What has motivated you? Will someone come do all my laundry if I succeed?