Motivation from Rewards

I am the type of person who is an under-spender.  Especially on myself.  I’m much more likely to treat someone else to something special than I am to spend money on myself.  This gets a bit problematic when I try to celebrate my successes.  Even when I reach a point that is a milestone, unless I’ve specifically picked something to reward myself with and have it all ready, I’ll still second guess treating myself.  I do this even when money isn’t involved.

It’s something I think I really need to change.  I don’t need to go overboard on it, but I think rewarding myself for reaching my goals is a good way to reinforce the goal building habit.  I wouldn’t think twice if anyone else rewarded themselves for doing the exact same thing, so why shouldn’t I allow myself a treat as well?

So, I’m trying to come up with a list of rewards for myself so that I can have something ready for when I reach a goal or milestone.  If I have to spend time thinking of something at the time that I achieve something, it takes some of the fun out of it.  But, I really need to pin myself down to them otherwise I know I’ll just delay gratification even more.

For my major goals, a lot of the reward is actually getting them done.  I don’t really need to treat myself to something because I managed to plan and pay for a trip to Japan.  So that one kind of takes care of itself.  Since learning Japanese is part and parcel of that goal, I don’t really need another reward for it either (although, a few milestone rewards along the way might not have been a bad idea in hindsight . . . 90 lessons is a lot!).

That leaves me with coming up with rewards for my other goals:

  • push-ups (this week I’m doing 19 a day and next week will be 20, I’m thinking of setting mini-goals at 10 push-up increments from here to 50)
  • enrolling in further education is kind of its own reward as well, but it isn’t very fun.  However, once I know which course I’m taking, I can definitely set up some study rewards to help get through it in a timely fashion
  • participate in NaNoWriMo 2008.  I think I also want to set some pre-NaNo goals and rewards to motivate myself to do a little more plotting and planning in advance this year.

Now, it’s very hard for me to justify spending money on random small things for rewards.  If I’m drooling over a particular gadget or gizmo, I can definitely squirrel away enough money to cover it, but general random stuff brings on guilt and that defeats the purpose of the reward.  So, very inexpensive or free is the best price range.  Also, it needs to be pretty definite and specific.  I can’t just ‘take a morning off to read’ or something.  I’ll remember all the dirty dishes and other things I’ve been meaning to do and my morning will be gone before I’ve cracked open a book.  My usual recourse is to reward myself with food, but that only reinforces bad eating habits tied with emotional eating.  So, no food rewards for me anymore!

So, here’s a list of things I’ve come up with so far . . .

  • Pyjama day!  (Well, I don’t have as much time as I did when I was younger, so it might just be a pyjama half day.)
  • Chick flick night
  • Face mask treatment
  • Pedicure and/or manicure

It’s much to short of a list.  I need some more things on there that I can use to reward myself with.  I’m going to have to spend some time pondering and see what I come up with.  I should also make myself a reward jar where I write the ideas down and can reach in and grab one at random if I forget to plan one out in advance.

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