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The Art of Success: Procrastination-Busting Rewards in Action

boundaries career coaching career wellness careers goals rewards Oct 25, 2023

Author: Jamila A. Brown (Co-Founder of The 5 Minute Career Hack)

I remember the day like it was yesterday, we were sitting at a Red Lobster for lunch and the smell of the biscuits was enough to add on 10lbs with just one whiff. But this day was different and would be one that changed my life.

In all my years of playing sports, I had never thought about the continuous cycle of practice, play, win (sometimes lose). And the big rewards at the end of the season like District Champs, State Champs in AAU, and on. This was a cycle of practice, play, and reward for the work that I had done on the court. However, I did not bring this into my post-graduate adult life and career.

Back to those 10lb biscuits (that's how I have to think about them to not want to order and bake some myself). My mentor unlocked a valuable lesson I cherished in sports while sitting across the table from her for lunch. But this lesson is one that we all have learned in life at an early age. Do something = Get a Reward. It is how we learned to do almost everything as a baby/toddler.

Rewards play a crucial role in our lives. They serve as incentives, motivating us to achieve our goals and push ourselves further. The power of attaching rewards to our accomplishments has been a secret to my discipline and achieving my goals for over a decade now in my adult life.

Often we are looking for motivation, energy, or something to get things done that we know we need to do. Yes, we are all looking for motivation or more motivation daily that will bring us success in some area of life. Especially for those things that we delay, put off, and rationalize in our minds why we will do it later if ever.

Attaching Accomplishments to Rewards

Everything that you want, everything that you want to treat yourself for, whether that's weekly, monthly, or quarterly, attach an accomplishment or a goal to it and watch your focus go up!

Think about things that you just do now for yourself, that are automatic treats (Spa Day, Date Night, Vacation, New Toys, etc.). Now what if you attached the completion of something you need to get done to those treats?

The idea of attaching rewards to accomplishments is a game-changer. It shifts our mindset from simply indulging in treats to actively working towards our goals. Instead of just booking a vacation or buying ourselves something nice, we can use those things as rewards, as a tool to drive our achievements. By setting goals and attaching rewards we desire, we create a powerful incentive to push ourselves further and accomplish more.

One caveat, if you need a self-care moment, take that moment. Otherwise, your reward turns into a punishment when you lack the mental and possibly physical energy to execute the task.

The Power of Rewards

Actions followed by rewarding consequences tend to be repeated. If you have a reward attached, whatever you're doing, you're more likely to repeat it.

Rewards have a profound impact on our behavior. When we associate positive outcomes with our actions, we are more inclined to repeat those actions. This principle is evident in various aspects of our lives, from the joyous celebration of a baby's first steps to the motivation we feel when we receive recognition for our hard work. By harnessing the power of rewards, we can create a cycle of success and continuous growth.

Applying Rewards in Different Areas of Life

Rewards can be applied to various areas of our lives, not just in the workplace. Whether it's personal goals, health and fitness targets, or even creative pursuits, attaching rewards to our accomplishments can significantly enhance our motivation and drive. By setting specific goals and identifying corresponding rewards, we create a roadmap for success and ensure that our efforts are rewarded. 

I set out on a healthy lifestyle journey in 2018 and the biggest part of that in the first couple of years was working out 4-5 times per week and making it a lifestyle. [Check out April Article Being Enough Right Where You Are!]

So, I set a target of working out for 18 months consistently and my reward was an Apple watch. Seems extreme but the way I focus on building wealth is 'if it is not adding value (i.e. the fitness tracking) then I don’t need ___________(fill in the blank). And in this case that was the Apple watch because I was not working out using it for some of its core features.

Until I was working out consistently, I didn’t need the watch.

The Challenge of Setting Rewards During COVID-19

This year, I have some goals around the amount of books I want to read, and how much I want to record from a content standpoint this year. One of the things I realized though...I had forgotten during COVID to set some rewards.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pandemic presented some unique challenges when it came to setting rewards for myself. Many of the rewards I used to enjoy, such as travel or attending events, had become limited or inaccessible. I am recalibrating with you right now by identifying new rewards that align with my current circumstances that are no longer bound by the pandemic. 

Be mindful of major life changes that could throw you off your game and reduce your focus on the things you want to do and need to do.

Let's embark on this journey together, attaching rewards to our accomplishments and reaping the benefits of our hard work. Remember, the power of rewards lies within us, waiting to be harnessed. Let us set goals, attach rewards, and watch as we achieve more than we ever thought possible. Share your wins with me on LinkedIn.

Stay motivated, stay focused, and keep the rewards coming. 

Check out my latest podcast episode: Mastering the 10 Principles of Servant Leadership l Career Hack #80

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