2018 has been a tough year so far.
Mainly because I’ve set myself some major life goals to achieve and I’ve been hammering at them hard.
Setting hard goals for yourself is a good thing – if you don’t go and build towards the things you truly want to achieve, nobody’s going to do it for you.
But it can also be difficult to stay motivated and keep going.
Regardless of your goals and the obstacles you run into to achieve them, I find a reward-based approach to be helpful in keeping your spirits and motivation up.
Setting up a reward ‘programme’ before starting to tackle a new goal, no matter its scale, has two major roles:
- Give you the day-to-day motivation to carry on
- Allow you to aknowledge important milestones, especially when you’re not fully in control of the goal being ‘achieved’ (e.g. getting a new job or a new client…)
The rewards you choose should not only be a reflection of the scale of the goal/milestone itself and how much achieving it challenged you, but also be things that truly make you happy.
So, of course, they will be different for everyone…
But here are a few ideas of the rewards and treats I found helpful to keep me motivated to achieve my goals.
To keep you going on a daily/weekly basis (e.g. to exercise, to file your work expenses every week…):
An episode of a series you love
Pairing an activity you want to indulge in with one you tend to put off is incredibly effective. TV is a very helpful tool to use when working on physical or repetitive tasks that require little brain power.
Since January, I’ve set this rule that I only watch reality TV programme whilst exercising. And truth be told, Queer Eye and Grace & Frankie are the best thing that’s ever happen to my physical health!
An indulgent bath
When you’re caught up in the most intense, work-heavy phases of goal achievement, it can be very easy to forget to take care of yourself – both physically and mentally.A truly indulgent bath caters for both, giving you a chance to take some time for yourself, pamper and relax.
Along the same lines, I tend to do a lot of baking when I’m stressed or am working towards achieving a big goal. The reason for that is simple: for me, baking is the ultimate way to relax. It allows my mind to stop buzzing and rest.Your ‘relaxing time’ might not be baking time – it might be reading, or playing an instrument, or craft projects… Whatever it is, adding some more of that activity into your schedule as a reward is very beneficial when building towards a goal.
Being quite introverted, having to deal with interaction-heavy environments and situations is a very demanding challenge for me, and the best way to reward myself afterwards is with extra sleep.
Depending on the nature of your goals, achieving them might be putting a lot of pressure on your body and/or your mind and allowing both to rest is essential to avoid burn-out.
To celebrate reaching a milestone:
Despite how much I love them, I rarely treat myself to fresh flowers. But a friend recently brought a bunch to me, and it’s be so good at lifting my spirits up.So, I’m going to take the risk of sounding soppy and silly and say that sometimes, something that’s pretty and a little bit useless is an excellent idea.
Small treats that would make achieving your goal easier or more enjoyable
There something extremely motivating about a new gym kit when you’re trying to make exercising a habit. Or great stationary if your goal involves a lot of writing. Or quality boxes if you’re trying to meal-prep more.
It’s some sort of ‘back to school’ effect, when the idea of using new, better tools/equipment just makes you excited to get up and dig right in!
To celebrate achieving a goal:
Tickets to a show/event
If your goal has a set deadline, booking tickets for an event you’re excited to attend for right after is an excellent thing to do.Getting close to deadlines can be a stressful time, but having something positive to look forward to as well makes the dread easier to handle.
And by the time the event actually rolls around, you’ll be in full celebrations mode, making it even better than you anticipated!
Significant ‘treats’ you rarely indulge in
Things that you enjoy but don’t really buy for yourself because it feels too extravagant, or doesn’t feel like you’d get a lot of use out of.Now is the time to treat yourself. You deserve it – you’ve worked hard to achieve those big goals.
And it’ll also be an excellent reminder than you can achieve whatever you put your mind to.
Don’t even think about ‘punishment’
Because you didn’t manage to reach your goal fully doesn’t mean you haven’t moved forward with it.
I’m sure you already feel bad enough about this without needing to put extra pressure onto yourself with a punishment.
Instead, take some time to analyse what hasn’t worked out and why, so you can learn from this experience and do better moving forward.
… And on that note, I’m off to buy myself some shoes to celebrate achieving the biggest goal I had set for myself this year!