Following on from the achievement badges post, today I’m going to think about the value of rewards for personal achievements. I think that if you’re aiming to achieve something (say to get your novel completed) it’s a lot easier if you break it down into smaller parts (say to write 1000 words a day) and reward yourself each time you complete one of your mini-goals.
Rewards work by conditioning-after a while you come to associate your hard work with a good thing. But what kinds of reward work best?
Things like chocolate, cake and a glass of wine work well as they give instant pleasure, but the problem with those kind of rewards is that a) they don’t last long so you have no lasting record of your achievement and b) you’re creating unhealthy habits that are not really going to help you with your long term goals.
Another option is to buy yourself something nice, but you have to make sure what you buy will be suitably enjoyable, but not break the bank. If I give myself a reward of this kind I like to buy something related to my achievement. For example,
if when I complete my NaNoWriMo I will probably buy something from the Nano website like the winners T-shirt. That way I will have something lasting to remind me of what I achieved, and every time I wear it I can be proud of that. I wouldn’t really get the same level of self-esteem from a chocolate bar, however delicious. Experiences like treating yourself to a meal or the cinema also work well as rewards.
But you don’t have to spend anything at all to reward yourself. You can use merit badges or stickers like the ones in the last post or make your own. You could make yourself a chart of achievements and stick gold stars all over it. Comments from other people also work as a great motivational tool, so maybe you could keep a little book of all the congratulations and compliments you have received for your work.
Another no-cost idea would be to treat yourself to some pampering time. After completing a goal, dedicate some time to having a bubble bath with lighted candles, a face mask and some classical music. Not only is that good reward for your mind, body and soul but it will clear your mind and give your creativity a boost so that you can achieve a lot more the next day. Dedicating time to enjoy your hobbies also benefits you in the same ways.
So basically, my main message for today is to choose your personal rewards wisely. Make sure they are memorable, lasting, special and healthy as opposed to short-term and destructive and you will reap much greater benefits.