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Updated: Feb 20, 2023

What do we want? We want it all! When do we want it? We want it NOW!

Sound familiar? It should. We live in a time where convenience is everywhere, at the tips of our fingers, delivering our every desire in just moments. But as nice as that is, there are underlying cons we aren’t aware of, and how they affect our behavior, and ultimately, our life experience.

Convenience works well for certain things. Like when you want to get your nails done, you go to a nail salon, pay the technician, and watch them paint your nails. Very straightforward.

But it doesn’t work for the stuff we REALLY want.

We want to be healthy, feel empowered and energized, and have meaningful relationships. But these items are priceless; we can’t approach them transactionally or we won’t receive their gifts.

So, how do you know if you’re thinking transactionally? Try these questions on for size:

1. Do you workout and get frustrated when the results don’t appear as quickly as you desire?

2. Do you want closer friendships but struggle to motivate yourself to reach out

to people?

3. Do you meditate expecting to feel less stressed afterward?

4. Do you take most actions because of an anticipated reward?

If your answer is Yes to any of these, you may have a habit of thinking transactionally. But where does that habit come from?


We learn this habit through our domestication process or conditioning if you will. When we are born, all we know is what we’ve been exposed to in the womb for nine months. Fortunately we’re connected to our mothers, giving us everything we need at the time.

Then we’re born, and we have to rely on other people to take care of our needs, but oftentimes those people don’t understand our needs yet. So, we teach them what we need, at the same time that they teach us how to ask them for what we need. Babies learn to cry to get their parents’ attention, and parents learn to distinguish their baby’s needs based on the way they cry.

At a very basic level, this is how we become transactional beings. When we cry, we get attention or food. As we get older, and we get good grades, we get rewarded. As adults, when we perform well at our job or in a hobby, that’s when we’re celebrated. That’s how we learn that when we do things, we get things.

But for many of us, as we get older, if there’s a delay in being celebrated or getting rewarded for the work we’ve put in, we feel dissatisfied. We are seduced by our culture of urgency, so when we aren’t getting what we want, when we want it, we don’t have much patience. So, we give up or try something new.


You might be thinking, “Cool Laura, this is how my brain works, but how do I change it?” I have the answer, and it’s just a three step process:

1. Become aware of WHEN you are expecting some kind of reward from your actions, and WHAT that reward looks like (immediate weight loss? A raise?)

2. Recognize the meaning you’re attaching to these rewards (more on this below).

3. Seek a smaller reward, more like a milestone, and celebrate your progress (for example, if you lose 1lb out of the 10lbs you’re aiming for, celebrate it! That’s positive forward progress and celebrating it can motivate you to keep going).

Let me break this down for you: First we have to start with awareness, because if we don’t realize WHEN we are thinking transactionally, there’s nothing we can do to change it. We first have to realize that’s what we’re doing so then we can recognize the reward we are expecting.

Keep in mind, we all feel disappointed when our needs don’t meet our expectations. The challenge is, we typically aren’t clear about what our expectations are until we feel disappointed! It’s a vicious cycle. But by recognizing when you’re expecting a reward and what it is, you can more easily minimize your expectations and sense of disappointment.

For example, as a trainer, I can’t tell you the number of clients who get frustrated and even self-sabotage when they don’t see results in a month. Personally, I try to be very up front about maintaining realistic expectations to prevent my clients from just giving up. When clients struggle like this, it usually points to a bigger problem: they aren’t working out for the right reasons, and those reasons usually involve the desire to “cure” an insecurity. But it doesn't work that way. (GRAPHIC OF INSECURITY OR WORKING OUT)


Once you recognize you’ve developed this habit of being transactional and the rewards you’re expecting, the next step is to go a bit deeper. Ask yourself, What meaning am I attaching to the expected result?

Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • People workout so they can feel comfortable in their skin

    • The meaning might be because they feel insecure about their size and feel judged by others

  • People want to get a promotion at work to feel successful

    • The meaning might be that they attach their worth to their status or how much money they make

  • People want to have more confidence so they aren’t always doubting themselves

    • The meaning might be that people who are confident love themselves and live happier lives

Finding meaning in things is how we make sense of the world. We do it constantly, but without awareness. When we understand the meanings we’ve attached to certain things, we learn what we truly desire.

(for more on understanding how we make meaning click HERE)


Once you recognize the meanings you’re assigning to the actions you take and the beliefs you have, it’s time to find a way to enjoy the journey. But we all have a habit of looking at goals that take time like they’re destinations; nothing matters until we get “there.”

But “there” in some cases can take months or even years to achieve. That is very uncomfortable for our brain and triggers our inner bully, telling us we don’t have what it takes to achieve what we desire, ultimately decreasing our chance of success by more than 75%.

However, when we connect with pleasure along the way in the form of mini milestones that can show us the progress we’re making, we’re able to find some comfort. That’s because with mini milestones, we’re able to build motivation by seeing our goal is actually possible.

Take weight loss for example; people get FRUSTRATED because it truly can take years. BUT when you notice that your pants are fitting better or you get a compliment from a friend, it’s motivating. THAT’S A MINI MILESTONE. And they can even motivate you to double down on your efforts! The milestones of success breed more success. As much as we like to arrive at the goal, that’s not how life works.

We tend to be hard on ourselves, only punishing or judging ourselves when things don’t go our way, but we forget to recognize our efforts when things do work FOR us. Celebrating the little wins solidifies the effort exerted to achieve that milestone.

So, CELEBRATE! But remember, that does not mean self-sabotage whatever you’re working toward by blowing your diet on a cheat meal or binging on boozy drinks to treat yourself. Celebrate mindfully, but remember to recognize and mark your progress. (GRAPHIC CELEBRATING)


When we think transactionally about things that take effort, we cause ourselves suffering. When things don’t go according to our vision, we get frustrated, even when we rarely articulate what that vision is. But more often than not, this works against whatever we were trying to achieve to begin with.

When we get frustrated when things don’t play out how we pictured, we typically blame ourselves. But it’s a control game. We want to control how things go, and when we can’t, we control the pain by blaming ourselves, rather than reflecting on what we could have done differently.

Personally I don’t like to suffer. So if you’re like me, consider exploring the 5 Day FREE Confidence Challenge. This will help you identify your patterns, recognize your meanings, and train you how to use milestones to build confidence, trust in yourself, and a life of success.

Are you ready?

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