The Importance of Rewarding Yourself

Do you have a habit of rewarding yourself?  I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't.  If you think of a sticker chart for children when you think of rewarding yourself, it's time to upgrade your chart.  

Science has proven that we are more productive when we have positive incentives than when we are threatened with negative consequences.  This is not just for children.  As adults, we have the power to set any incentive or reward that we want, but we often choose not to.  Some of us may want the recognition or reward to come from someone else.  Some of us may think that rewarding ourselves is vain or prideful.  Still more of us may not even know how to reward ourselves.

But here's the thing, you get to choose the reward.

If your concern is vanity, choose to reward yourself in a way that doesn't feel vain to you.  A reward doesn't need to be shouted from the mountain tops, it just needs to be a way you acknowledge your hard work and appreciate yourself.

If you would like someone else to recognize you, you are putting your reward in the hands of others and there's no telling what others will do with it.  If, for example, you loved fresh flowers and you purchased yourself a little bouquet as a reward for eating healthy all week, you could be well assured that the flowers you purchase will be ones that you like and will enjoy.  Every time you see the vase of flowers you will be reminded of the great job you did that week and the joy will fill you up and motivate your continued healthy eating.  I might be one of the few people on the planet who finds fresh cut flowers stressful and if someone were to give me flowers as a reward, it would not have the same effect.  It would actually end up having a negative effect as I slowly watched the flowers die.  I wouldn't want that to associate with my success.  

If you don't know how to reward yourself, all it takes is a little brainstorming.

First, think of a list of the things that you enjoy that you do or buy occasionally. 

This list could include eating at your favorite restaurant, buying a new shirt, going on a long hike, traveling to an exotic destination (or going to visit your favorite aunt), or indulging at the candy store.  Think of a few things that make you unreasonably happy and fill you with pure joy.  These things make excellent rewards.   

Next, pick a time frame or benchmark.

This needs to be reasonable and fairly frequent.  Your time frame or benchmark should also be in proportion to your reward.  It would not make sense to reward yourself with a three week vacation to Tahiti for exercising every day during a single week.  C'mon.  When I started running in 2015, my main reason was to lose weight, but I knew that that reward was fairly unpredictable (losing fat, but gaining muscle does nothing on the scale).  Instead, in the very beginning, I rewarded myself with a new article of running attire for every 10 miles I ran.  As my endurance and distance increased, I increased my benchmark for the reward until I no longer needed a reward to go out and run.  

Last, keep your commitment.

If you decide that after every week of eating healthy, you get to go out for ice cream, reserve your reward for only when you deserve it.  In other words, commit to only eating ice cream after a week of healthy eating.  Make no exceptions.  On the other hand, after you've had a week of healthy eating, freakin' reward yourself.  If you find, after weeks of healthy eating, that ice cream no longer appeals to you, pick a different reward and keep going.

You might think that all this "rewarding yourself" stuff might be silly.  C'mon, we're adults, we can do what needs to be done without putting a sticker on our sticker chart.  Okay, yes, but will you be happy about it?  If you just love eating salads and quinoa every single day and don't need a reward for it, then good for you!  But I'd bet there's something in your life that you need a little added motivation for and I'm telling you, giving yourself a reward will make a difference.  Not only will giving yourself a reward make a difference in the goals that you are striving to achieve, but it will also bolster your self confidence and your belief in your ability to accomplish things.

You are fantastic and you do incredible things.  You deserve to be rewarded for them.