The art of rewarding yourself

A pat on the back for a job well-done, a smile from a loved one, a thank-you-email acknowledging our work. Few things motivate more than a good dose of appreciation. Yet, often a lot of the stuff we do isn’t immediately visible to others. And that’s when we should consider self-rewarding ourselves. But it’s not as simple as it sounds.

Coffee as a reward

Some people view the very idea of rewarding themselves as juvenile. They claim they are not kids anymore who need to be rewarded for something that needs to be done. Or dogs requiring treats to perform tricks. Part of the reason is that when we think about rewarding ourselves the first thing that comes to our minds is food. A cookie, a piece of chocolate, cup of coffee or even a glass of alcohol. But there are many more types of self-rewards. For inspiration, wait for the last paragraph of this text or simply google – there are tons of specific tips on how to reward yourself on the net.

Rewards for tasks

Also, research suggests that when we anticipate a reward, certain parts of our brains release dopamine, which in turn plays a huge role in the way we are able to self-motivate ourselves. The case for self-rewarding thus seems to be clear-cut. Even if you are a super focused, highly-efficient top manager, there is no reason you should refuse something that can help you get the job done. Something that takes advantage of the very way we are constructed. Especially when you are working on a long-term project, it can take anything from weeks to years to get the desired positive feedback. And so, rewarding yourself for smaller tasks nobody else sees is a way to keep on track.

young happy couple
Habits and rewards

But then again, you might think that you don’t need to be rewarded for something like brushing your teeth every day so why reward yourself for other stuff. Well, brushing teeth is a habit and as such is automatic. We don’t need to decide if we brush our teeth or not every morning. We just do it without thinking and that’s why such an action doesn’t require acclaims and praises. However, self-rewarding is important when we try to build a new habit. Or break a bad one for that matter.

Chose your reward wisely

Using rewards to quit bad habits is easy. Let’s say you will reward yourself for every day without a cigarette. Now, be sure to choose the right treat. While setting aside money daily can work just fine, rewarding yourself with a bottle of wine every evening might mean that you’ll soon be in need of a new treat which will help you get rid of another bad habit. As far as building new habits, the situation is even more tricky. For example, if you choose a reward for running 30 kilometres in a month, reaching such a goal might work as a stopping point. And author of bestsellers on self-improvement Gretchen Rubin rightly points out that “once we stop, we must start over, and starting over is harder than starting.”

Types of rewards

The best rewards are the ones that reinforce desired behaviour. So, for your 30 jogging kilometres you might think of buying those amazing wireless headphones. Also, always pick something that truly motivates you. And it doesn’t have to be anything expensive. In fact, your reward can be something you would probably do anyway. Imagine you need a coffee. Why not tell yourself that you can have it only after you finish your current task – let’s say a presentation or writing a difficult email. It can be as easy as that. As with a lot of things with our behaviour, it’s about reframing our thoughts in the desired way.

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