Tootsie Rolls and Goals

I used to eat tootsie rolls while I ran.

Yes, you read that correctly. When I was sixteen, my dad and I would take three-mile runs through the countryside of Indiana. I was kind of a fatty and had a hard time keeping up with him. I needed motivation. So I kept a handful of tootsie rolls in my pocket, and whenever I reached a half-mile marker, I would pop a tootsie roll in my mouth. That tootsie roll usually lasted until the next half-mile marker… I’d planned it out perfectly.

I was pathetic. But those tootsie rolls kept me going. When I run now, all I crave is water. I don’t even want to eat within an hour of a run.

But that’s beside the point. Motivation works. Rewards work. I don’t need to candy to spur me on anymore.

In the same way, when I first started writing, I used motivation tricks to reach a certain word count goal. It helped me stay focused each day. I don’t use rewards anymore (unless I’m going through a week of absolutely zero motivation and 100% writers’ block), but they helped me as a beginner to stay disciplined. Now, reaching my word count goal has become a reward in itself.

So if you’re having trouble reaching your goals, or just feel purely unmotivated, try to find a reward that’ll keep you moving. Something nice or tasty. Maybe treat yourself to an ice cream cone. Or, if you’ve completed a huge goal, go out and buy that cute outfit or book you’ve been wanting. Of course, if you’re cheap like me, a reward is even bigger if you don’t have to spend any money. In that case, watch a good movie on netflix (movies always make good rewards at the end of the day).

Either way, you know what you like, so find your reward, set your goal, and reach it.

But DON’T reward yourself if you haven’t reached your goal. That makes the whole system pointless.

Now go, sapling, and sprout new leaves.

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