When most people reach a small goal, they feel like they need to buy or get themselves something. Unfortunately, that’s a mistake. I think rewarding good behaviour and success with stuff is the worst thing you can do.
Why using ‘stuff’ doesn’t work
By ‘stuff,’ I’m talking about things like clothing, electronics, trips, or even something that seems harmless – like a coffee.
Let me give you an example.
Say you make a deal with yourself that every time you follow through on making calls during the day, that you go for coffee (or whatever beverage you enjoy). It’s nice to splurge every so often, but if done too often, you start building an association that every time you make calls, you have to end with coffee, or it’s not complete.
Now you’re relying on an outside influence to make yourself feel good.
You might reward yourself with coffee one day, and then food the next, or perhaps a trip if you have a good month. Bribing yourself with food or items isn’t a healthy or sustainable motivational model.
You also run into the potential that you’ll start over-rewarding yourself.
What if one day, you don’t finish all your calls? That should clearly mean you don’t deserve a coffee, but you’ve conditioned yourself to go for coffee every day, and you’re body is probably craving a caffeine hit.
You’re not supposed to have the coffee, but maybe you do anyway, because you tell yourself you need it to stay awake for the afternoon.
You just took the reward, but didn’t do the work.
If you do this once, it gets much easier to do again and again. It sounds like a little thing, but that’s how small problems get big… little by little.
The other obvious downside is the fact that it will cost you a lot of money to keep up these habits. This isn’t what I’m focusing on today, but the costs can definitely add up.
Tap into your most powerful reward system
I agree that rewards in general can work, and I’m OK with them for larger goals, but I’ve seen the downside they can bring when they’re too frequent and too big.
If you want to have true lasting success, there’s a better, long-term solution. It involves using your emotions.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to get too touch feely here today, but it’s true that using emotions to influence your behaviour is a both a sustainable and long-term solution to motivation. It’s also free.
Use Mini Celebrations to maximize your productivity
The best way to maintain any success system is to take time whenever you complete both small and significant tasks to feel proud of yourself.
Rewarding good behaviour is the only way to perpetuate it.
I recommend you learn how to throw yourself a Mini Celebration whenever you can, since it will reinforce the successes in your life.
In a nutshell, a Mini Celebration is taking about a minute to feel good about what you’ve just accomplished. Much of what we do in life is directed by our emotions, and by consciously directing how you feel, you put yourself in a better position to control how you will act going forward.
Like I always say, “It’s the little things you do each day that make you great.” Doing Mini Celebrations won’t change your life overnight, but if you use them, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll raise the level of your achievement.
Another simple solution to put into place is using walks as a reward. I’m not talking about a regular walk, which isgreat too, but what I advocate is going walking with swagger, like you’re the most important person in the world.
As you walk, take the time to feel great. Something you can try while doing your success walk is think to yourself that everyone you pass is thinking, “It’s him,” or “It’s Her.” When you feel like a success, you act like a success.
I couldn’t resist adding this clip of John Travolta from the movie Staying Alive. After he succeeds at the end of the movie, he goes out strutting, which is another way of saying walking proudly. Check it out.
Small, frequent internal rewards are the key to long-term success
Some days you work hard, but nobody seems to recognize all the effort you put in. When you make it OK to feel good about what you do, it will allow you to feel good about your accomplishments and enjoy the moment, without having to rely on the coffee being just right, or about what someone else thinks.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going strutting…