Is your goal one where you won’t see any sort of results for a long time? Months, if not years? While we are trying to build discipline in order to do what we need to do even if it sucks in that moment, it can be pretty discouraging to feel like nothing is improving, even after what feels like lots of effort. Maybe you want to improve your grades, but turning in a couple A assignments won’t immediately bring that D- to a B+. Maybe you’ve picked up yoga but are still struggling with the poses that gave you trouble a month ago. Maybe you’re trying to build your side hustle into a sustainable full-time business, but it’s slow going right now.
If you’re putting in the effort, but life isn’t rewarding you quite yet, it’s okay to reward yourself. Too much work without any reward can lead to burnout, and that’s not going to help anyone accomplish anything. So what are some ways to reward yourself?
When I started going to the gym, I set up a little reward chart for myself. A certain number of trips to the gym earned me the opportunity to buy something I’d been wanting, completely guilt free. Ten trips to the gym got me new boots. Another ten got me a new tapestry for my living room. Five more and I’ve earned a new succulent. When I didn’t want to get out of bed at 6 am to head to the gym, I’d think about how much I wanted new boots or how cute my new little plant friend would be, and it would get my tired ass out of bed. These rewards kept me going for a few months and helped me build discipline when it came to going to the gym. Eventually though, I started forgetting to check off the days when I went to the gym. I just went. The rewards eventually weren’t needed anymore, but for the first few months, they were very helpful.
Obviously, rewards shouldn’t be something that undoes your progress. If you’re trying to lose weight, don’t reward yourself with cake. If you’re trying to save money, don’t use buying new boots as your reward. Try something like getting to sleep in guilt free as late as you want on Saturday every week that you’ve saved your goal amount of money.
To take this even farther, I’ve known people to “punish” themselves for not meeting goals. Obviously, don’t do anything that’s actually harmful. But if you HATE olives, you and your olive hating friend could make a pact to eat an olive every time you don’t make it to the gym 4 times in the previous week. No real harm done if you have to eat the olive, and it’ll help you get your butt to the gym. Play around with different systems of incentives and disincentives to figure out what works best for you.