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🍬Tiny rewards: How to use breadcrumbs to motivate yourself

to study, clean, or exercise more

At Sunday dinner, my sweet mother-in-law asked if she could offer me some advice about the newsletter.

Among a couple other things, she said:

“You know I love reading your emails, but I’d love if you wrote more examples about average, everyday people’s good habits too.”

So in honor of her, I want to spotlight YOU.

After reading today’s issue, just hit reply and answer 3 questions:

  1. What’s one simple habit that’s changed your life for the better?

  2. How have you dealt with the challenge of staying consistent with it?

  3. What advice would you offer to someone trying to build that same habit?

I’ll be picking some of your responses to write about in future Habit Examples!

Thanks so much in advance 🙂 


⚡️ Estimated read time: 2 minutes 19 seconds.


Habit Example


In Grimm’s famous (and totally disturbing) fairytail, Hansel and Gretel end up in a deep, dark, dangerous forest.

The only way they eventually escape the forest is by following a trail of breadcrumbs they left for themselves.

Sometimes, you and I find ourselves in the deep, dark, dangerous forest of demotivation.

What if we could simply follow breadcrumbs back to feeling motivated and getting things done again?

My cousin Madi teaches history and psychology to middle-schoolers.

And back in college, she literally found a way to do just that.

Whenever she struggled to have the motivation to study for classes, she’d grab a bag of M&M’s.

With her textbook open, she’d plop an M&M at the end of every few paragraphs.

This is awesome because:

  • She already loved M&M’s, so the incentive was a no-brainer

  • There were multiple tiny rewards along the way

  • She could see exactly how many paragraphs she had to read before the next reward

What’s even better is that the strategy works with any habit, and any incentive you want to swap out for.

  • Reward yourself with a 3 minute walk outside for every half hour of productive work

  • Watch a funny video after every house chore you get done

  • Or like right now, I told myself I can have a slice of apple pie and ice cream as soon as I finish publishing this newsletter!

It worked wonders for her, and it’s been the little push I’ve needed in a pinch multiple times.

Of course, it would be great if we all just did what we knew we should, simply because we knew it was good for us.

But at least every once in a while, we may as well accept that we’re not machines and that it’s okay to reward ourselves for good behavior.


Try it


  1. Think of a habit you’ve been struggling with recently.

  2. Consider what incentive would motivate you to do it

  3. Decide how frequently you get to reward yourself for your success

See if this helps! If it doesn’t, try playing with what the incentive is, or how often or how big it is relative to the effort you’re putting in to your habit.




“I don’t have many regrets it’s true, because I believe you can always start a new.

Every day we learn from our tattered past, our regrets were never really meant to last.

The things that haunt me aren’t the wrong things I’ve done, but more like the songs I have left unsung.

The untapped potential I let go by the way, saying; “oh I’ll just do that another day”

The books I could have written, or the tears I could have dried, these types of regrets go far and wide.

For I know as I sit on my fancy iPhone, there are so many seeds that I’ve left unsown.

I don’t want to realize at the end of my days, that I just sat around in some half-alive haze.

To live is to try, to fail, to succeed. It’s to love and to hurt and to cry and to need.

To put yourself out there no matter how shy, and not just sit back and let your life pass by.

If your life is a book and you hold the pen, then write something wonderful! Then do it again!

If you don’t sing the songs that are in your heart, someone else will do it. They will fill that part.

And if that happens I will fall to my knee, and know in my heart ‘that could have been me.’”

- Madi Priebe (my wise sister-in-law!)




Actual quote from my 4-year-old


That’s how I was saying at the lake house, so have fun with your eyeball and have fun with your polka outfit!”


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Not ready to go back to reality?

Read the Habit Example from exactly one year ago.

It’s also one of my favorite Habit Examples I’ve ever written!

- Kody


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P.S. This took 5 hours to research and write. It only takes you 5 seconds to share.

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