S e l f - M o n i t o r i n g
                    Random Access                                Reward System For
    A U T O M A T I C - I M P R O V E M E N T
                        P O P C O R N   P I L L
    S E R V I C E     P R O G R A M

written by Lin Stone
Copyright 1999 by Browzer Books

    Dolphin trainers catch untrained animals jumping and reward them with a fish. Because this happens each time the dolphin jumps on his own the dolphin eventually figures out what he is being paid for and begins jumping every time he wants a fish.

The trouble is, (for the trainer anyway) when the dolphin only needs half a fish he only jumps half-heartedly. When hunger is assuaged his talents go to sleep and he doesn't even jump at all.

    To keep the dolphins jumping trainers quit paying off with a fish every time. Instead, they pay the dolphin off on a random basis. Maybe they pay off on jump #5, or on jump #3. The dolphin doesn't know.

By NOT establishing a pattern of pay-off on any specific jump, the dolphin is motivated to perform at his best every time, not knowing which jump will be rewarded.

    Even full time writers like me kick up their heels better for an immediate surprise bonus than they do for pay delivered months later for good writing already forgotten.

By rewarding your own best efforts immediately but on a random basis you too will reinforce your desire to write on a higher level of excellence. But how do you make it a surprise?

Well I don't like fish, so I do it with pop corn. So can you.

    This random access, popcorn pill self-monitoring automatic pattern-interrupt service program mechanism will serve to make steady improvements become automatic in your writing career.

Best of all, it will only cost about two cents to get jumping yet you will soon have this variable reward system reinforcing your new writing habits without undergoing emotional bankruptcy at the hands of a relentless psychiatrist.


    Start out by painting 1 kernel of raw popcorn black, 2 kernels green, and 5 kernels red.

Put these little colonels in a small pill bottle which you keep near your word processor.

    Next, make a list of the three or four most important things you want to do better. Here for example are the things which I want to improve upon.

    List #1
    Being nicer and more gracious to the people around me.
   Gain new insights from the scriptures.
    Solving problems more quickly and more intelligently
    Ignoring any pain I may be in.
    Following through on tough assignments
    transcribing any interviews immediately
    Quit bragging about the pain and tribulations I'm in.
    Gain new philosophical insights
    Follow through on a tough assignment.


Now make a list of the things you want to STOP doing.

                        List # 2
    Quit smoking
    Quit watching television
    Quit yelling at the kids
    Stop using profanity
    Quit drinking with a funnel
    ** etc.

    Now, put down the rewards you can offer yourself. Here are some of the rewards I can afford to give myself.

    List #3
        Read a book.
        Take a long shower.
        Go to a seminar or a meeting
        Seeing the kids
        Do a craft
        Biking, hiking, boating spree
        Go searching for my lost love
        Write a poem or a new story

    Next, list the worst punishments you might endure for failing to do any of the things on List #1 --- and the things you keep doing on List #3.

Make the punishments extra bad for yourself.

This way the threat is bigger to terrify you, even if they are less likely. However, never punish yourself by laying on a task you know you should be doing, but won't

                            List #4
    No dates for a whole week
    No dressing on my next salad
    Walk around the block 3 times in those shorts I hate
    Vacuum the whole house.
    Wash the dog.

Using the Program

    Any time you find yourself doing one of the bad things on list #2 --- shake a pop corn kernel out of your bottle or container.

    If a red colonel pops forth, that's too bad, you got by free this time. But don't guilty about not getting punished. You had your chance to lay it on thick.

    If a green colonel drops into your palm, YEP! This time you do get to take a beating. Choose your punishment from List #4.

    If the black colonel rolls out then you will immediately reward yourself from the list #3 above, even though you know you don't deserve it. Fair is fair.

There's more to it.

    When you catch yourself doing one of the good things on list #1, shake out a pop corn kernel from the bottle. If a red colonel pops forth, that's too bad, you DON'T get rewarded this time. Better luck next time.

    If a green colonel drops into your palm, YEP! This time you do get rewarded. Choose whatever means most to you from List #3 and thoroughly enjoy your reward.

    If the black colonel rolls out then you will immediately punish yourself from List #4 even though you know you don't deserve it.



    Make your rewards so attractive that wishing for the right colonel to come tumbling out from the shaken bottle will equal the excitement of being about to win the lottery!

Make your punishments so terrible that you'll think twice before peeking to see which colonel spilled out.

The main point here is to keep you thinking of what you are doing, and what you should be doing until good behavior becomes a habit instead of a wish.

Once your good behavior in one trait is firmly established, remove it from your list. Then select the next trait you wish to work on, and add it to the list.

Lin Stone is an author, writer, photographer.  Click HERE to read more of his stories.

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