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My resolve is determined by the reward I'll get.  (photo- Fauzan Saari on Unsplash)

I need to have enough resolve to complete my goals.

I learned one way to increase my resolve to complete my goals the hard way. I almost lost my tooth.

I always thought I took good care of my teeth. I’ve obeyed my dentist since I was little and besides brushing my teeth twice a day (at least) I would also floss. But since living in Hungary I started to develop a fear of dentists. 

Many people here have bad teeth.


Lion’s teeth wouldn’t look good on people.

Pointy teeth look good on lions. Photo- Pawan Sharma- Unsplash





It didn’t help me that I have seen far too many people here in Hungary with teeth either missing or in terrible condition. I remember once seeing a lady at my kids’ school with her front teeth filed down. Her teeth in the front were little pointy stubs. Kind of like a vampire, only every tooth was pointy. My Hungarian was not very good then and all I could understand of what she told me was that the dentist did it.


I started to develop a fear that dentists here in Hungary were quick to do drastic things and quick to pull teeth. It was how I interpreted the facts I saw. 


Not everyone has the money to fix their teeth.

I later learned that the lady with her teeth filed down was going to have a bridge put in but couldn’t afford the temporary covering while the bridge was being made. Even in the States a dentist has to file down teeth depending on the kind of bridge. But I never witnessed that in the States because people normally have temporary coverings put on during the in-between period. 


People go around with missing teeth here because they can’t afford the procedure to fix the problem. Not everything is covered by socialized medicine. People who can afford it will get what is needed to hide the gap till the procedure is finished. I didn’t understand that then.


I avoided the dentist because opainful experiences.


Dental tools for cleaning teeth.

These dental tools make me cringe. (photo-Jon Tyson on Unsplash)


And it didn’t help my fears that I started to experience pain when the dentist cleaned my teeth. Whenever the dentist would get that claw-hook tool and go in between my teeth and dig into my gums I’d wince in pain and clench my hands so tight they’d turn red. It was a pain that made my head throb. I dreaded the procedure so much I postponed going to the dentist as long as I could.


Avoiding the dentist isn’t a good thing.

What ended up happening is I started getting a dull pain in one of my back molars. I didn’t go to the dentist for over a year and when I did the x-ray didn’t show anything. But there was something wrong. And that summer I experienced pain like a knife digging into my tooth and twisting up into my eye. Just awful. I ended up having an emergency root canal. On the bright side I didn’t lose my tooth.


I learned one thing though. I was not cleaning my teeth well enough. Much to my disbelief. I mean sometimes I even brush my teeth three times and floss twice in one day. 


When it comes to routine there is always something new to learn.  

I went to a dental hygienist and I learned 3 new things about caring for my teeth: 1. Always have the hygienist use numbing cream (If you have a tendency for pain when teeth are cleaned, it’s miraculous!) 2. Go yearly to have your teeth cleaned, even if you are afraid. 3. Use an interdental brush (flossing is not enough!)


Besides dental things, I learned one important lesson about completing goals. You see it seems rather obvious that everyone wants to keep their teeth. Why does that even have to be a goal? With me, despite taking care of my teeth I would have lost my tooth had I continued as I was. And when the pain became so great I came to a point I’d do anything to get rid of the pain and try to save my tooth.


After the root canal the dentist sat down and talked to me, he said, “You have to face the fact that you weren’t cleaning your teeth well enough and you had quite a bit of tartar on your teeth. Continue as you are and you’ll lose the tooth.”

An interdental brush to clean teeth.

It’s easy reach those tight spaces with an interdental brush. (photo-me)

Hard as it was to admit, I knew he was right and I went to the dental hygienist he suggested and I learned how to use an interdental brush. The dental hygienist suggested a cleaning routine that took me 10 minutes to do once at night before bed. 


What I learned though is that my resolve to do something increases when the reward is high enough. I had the root canal to save my tooth and so I have a goal to save this tooth. Some nights when I’m very tired I am tempted to only brush my teeth and not do the whole procedure. But I never miss a day. I always do the procedure. The reward of saving the tooth and not having pain far outweighs the hassle of spending 10 minutes at night on my teeth. It has become routine. I can do it with my eyes closed. It is so worth it to me.


This principle can be applied to completing any goal. If you set a  reward high enough for a goal you increase your resolve to completing that goal. The opposite is also true if you set a low reward you decrease your resolve for completing that goal. I’d say that is true about most things in my life. If the reward is enough I have the resolve to complete the goal or do the task. 

So how do you know when you set a goal that the reward for accomplishing the goal is enough? You need to ask yourself some questions. But the most important question is this: what reward can you set for your goal that far outweighs the pain involved in doing the steps to achieve the goal? Whenever we set goals we should not blindly set a goal that we’d like to meet. We need to be deliberate and set a goal with the reward in mind. 

I’ve created a reward increase tool that has questions to help you think about setting good rewards. Click the button below to get it.

What kind of rewards help you complete your goals? Tell me in the comment section below or in the Heart2live Facebook page. I’d love to hear your thoughts.