There’s a local coffee shop. The shop owner wants to start giving customers rewards cards. After a customer buys so many coffees, they get one free.
But he has two versions of the card. One has 10 spaces, the other 12. But here’s the catch. If he uses the cards with 12 spaces, he plans to stamp the cards twice when he hands them out…saying, “Here are two stamps to give you a head start.”
Either way, you have to buy 10 coffees to get a free one. Which card do you think would be more effective as motivation?
Believe it or not, someone’s has actually done a study[i] on this. Despite the fact that folks have to buy just as many drinks to get a free one, the card with 12 slots is consistently more motivating!
Why? Researchers concluded that it’s because progress, in and of itself, is motivating.
The progress doesn’t even have to be real. Just the FEELING of progress is enough to keep you going.
Of course, the inverse is true, too. If you feel like you’re not making progress, your motivation takes a serious hit.
Which is why it’s so very important that you and your guy feel like your relationship is moving forward. You need to feel like things are improving and that you’re growing as a couple. If you don’t, you’ll be less inclined to give the relationship your all.
But remember, it’s not even actual progress that matters for motivation. It’s the feeling of progress that keeps us engaged.
With that in mind, I have three mind-hacks for keeping you and your guy motivated to make your relationship as awesome as it can possibly be.
- Celebrate milestones.
Milestones are a big gauge of relationship success in our culture. Think about it. When you’re talking about a solid couple, one of the things you mention is how long they’ve been together.
Every single anniversary is a milestone. So celebrate them.
Celebrate the “firsts” you have as a couple, like the first time you take a road trip together. Celebrate important locations, like the restaurant where you had your first date. And celebrate anniversaries.
Yes, even your one-month anniversary. No, it’s not silly, and I’ll tell you why.
Celebrating milestones reminds you that you’ve traveled down the road a ways together. Acknowledging that progress will fuel your momentum to keep going.
- Don’t dwell on setbacks.
Every couple hits speed bumps. You’ll have fights, slumps, even times when you just need space from each other. That’s normal.
But don’t dwell on that stuff.
Thinking about the negative will leave you with the feeling that you haven’t made much progress, and that you have so far yet to go. Talk about a motivation killer!
Instead, deal with setbacks as they happen, and then move on. Get back to the good stuff as soon as you can.
- Accomplish something as a couple.
My final suggestion is to achieve something with your guy.
I encourage couples to engage in shared activities all the time. This advice is a bit different. What I’m saying here is this: set a goal, something both of you will have to work toward, and do it TOGETHER.
For example, if you’ve both been talking about how you should learn a second language, enroll in a class together. Save up for something, like a vacation, together. Volunteer for something together. Get a plot in a community garden and grow something together.
You get the idea. Find something that will take work, and do it WITH your man. It doesn’t matter what it is. It only matters that you feel like you’re accomplishing something as a team.
Progress is important, but the feeling of progress matters, too. Use the mind-hacks above to nurture a feeling of progress in your dating relationship.
The more successful you two feel as a couple, the more motivated you’ll be to keep making your relationship great.
[i] Kivetz, Ran, Oleg Urminsky, and Yuhuang Zheng. “The Goal-Gradient Hypothesis Resurrected: Purchase Acceleration, Illusionary Goal Progress, and Customer Retention.” Journal of Marketing Research 43.1 (2006): 39-58. Web.