about taking a walk," "it would be nice if you picked up your dirty
clothes," etc. The partner can at any time grab one of your wish notes
and make it come true.
STEP FOUR: Schedule the desired activity and reward, carry out
contract, adjust your contract as needed.
Such a contract may need to be tailored to your needs for the next
2 or 3 months. If possible, anticipate and schedule a specific time for
the desired behavior and reward. The first few hours or days of a self-
help project are especially important; do everything possible to get the
new behavior to occur and be rewarded. Getting started is crucial.
If you just can't do it, revise your goals. Take smaller steps. Give
bigger rewards. Try again. It may take 15 to 20 small steps to get
from where you are to where you want to be. In this way you "shape"
your behavior gradually over a period of weeks. As the behavior
modifiers say, "If it's hard, you are doing it wrong. Think small!"
Examples: gradually increase time spent exercising, studying, being a
good listener, etc. Gradually decrease smoking, calories, TV, critical
comments, etc. More specifically, the American Cancer Society
recommends the reduction of cigarettes by 25% each day with a
specific time set to quit within a week. That may be much too fast a
pace; smokers may need weeks to quit. Just keep "tinkering" with the
contract until it works. Don't give the unwanted behavior any hope
that you will eventually give up.
Besides "reward behavior as soon as possible" and "shift from full
reinforcement to partial reinforcement," chapter 4 gives some other
rules for using reinforcers: (1) don't over-reward or give rewards for
very easy tasks, (2) don't give extrinsic rewards for enjoyable tasks
and only give rewards a short while for potentially interesting
activities, such as studying, (3) don't let your rewards inadvertently
reinforce some unwanted behavior (e.g. don't take a break while mad
or when daydreaming), (4) avoid using rewards as bribes or
enticements, if possible; "surprise" or unexpected rewards work
better, and (5) don't neglect either the short-term or the long-term
reinforcers of your unwanted behavior. Use both immediate and long-
term payoffs to make the wanted behavior stronger and more
frequent. Chapter 4 will help you generally understand behavior.
STEP FIVE: Fade out the rewards; develop naturally satisfying
You shouldn't have to keep rewarding every new desired behavior
forever. In fact, the behavior, once it is occurring consistently, can be
further strengthened by reducing the rewards. See discussion of partial
reinforcement in chapter 4. Reduce the extrinsic reinforcement, but
increase the intrinsic satisfaction (see method #15), and try to
arrange naturally occurring rewards. For instance, if your new
behavior, say smoking or eating less, is saving you money, make the
saved money very visible and available for special uses. Or, if you are