We live in a culture that promotes constant rewards; often those that are counterproductive. Reward yourself for sticking to a diet with a juicy hamburger! Paid off your debt? Treat yourself to an expensive pair of new shoes! But effectively rewarding yourself is far more complicated than you might assume. Highly driven people often fail to pause and effectively acknowledge a job well done, especially smaller successes that are required on the road toward a big goal. Burnout, compromised personal life and health, and lost perspective can result.
Harvard University researcher Teresa Amabile found that progress is actually the greatest motivator. That means achieving a lot in a day is actually a greater motivator than a fancy meal or tropical vacation. To maximize this motivation, find ways to recognize and celebrate your progress:
- Break down your current goal and process it into tiny steps. Make note when each of these is accomplished—not just the giant end game, which might be months or years away.
- Bake failure into your rewards system. Real achievement requires risk and failure, and learning from mistakes. Instead of focusing solely on what goes right, like landing a new deal, focus on goals reached, such as the number of proposals sent out or pitching a dream potential client you might have been too timid to approach.
- Make rewards healthy. A drunken night out as a reward for beating your sales goal has lots of negative baggage attached to it, compared with spending time with an old friend or investing in an education course, a fitness class or in beautifying your home.
- Involve loved ones. Invite your family, friends and colleagues to join you in your celebrations, even if it is a small gesture, such as asking your partner to join you on a hike to celebrate accomplishing an arduous to-do list.
Culled from Success