Rewards are one of the most powerful tools you have to achieve success and reach your goals. Here’s how to reward yourself effectively!
After coming up with all the excuses in the world to avoid writing my third book, I FINALLY decided enough was enough.
I needed discipline… and an incentive. So I sketched out my Six-Week Sprint (a goal-setting system I talk about in Practical Dreamer) and promised myself a new FitBit if I could finish my draft within six weeks.
And guess what happened?
To my astonishment, I crushed this goal.
And promptly purchased a FitBit that very week.
Wondering whether this was a fluke or not (I’m kind of a realist), I tied rewards to a few other goals:
- When I reached a quarterly sales goal, I let myself schedule a massage
- When I opened my Etsy Shop, my reward was an Apple Pencil
- When I updated my website design and logo, I booked a mani/pedi to celebrate
Just like before, I met every one of those goals, which meant I could indulge in that massage, buy an Apple Pencil, and enjoy a mani/pedi.
Turns out that the old carrot dangling on a stick trick actually works.
Have you ever wondered why?
THe power of LEARNING HOW TO Reward yourself
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of accomplishment after completing a goal. Whether it’s a personal goal or a professional one, achieving something you’ve set your mind to feels incredible!
But sometimes, “feeling good” isn’t enough to keep us motivated when the going gets tough.
That’s where rewards really shine.
- Provide something to look forward to. If you know that there’s a special reward waiting for you at the end of the journey, you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
- Help you stay focused on your goal. It can be easy to get sidetracked, but if you have a specific reward in mind, it will be easier to stay consistent.
- Serve as a way to celebrate your accomplishments. Achieving a goal is hard work and you deserve to treat yourself!
And research backs this up!
Back in 1948, a researcher named B.F. Skinner began studying the behavior of rats in an effort to understand operant conditioning – which is basically the process of learning by observing the consequences of our actions.
In his experiments, he found that the rats were more likely to perform a desired behavior when they received a reward for doing so.
He called this “positive reinforcement” and it’s exactly the same process that we humans use to train our dogs, encourage our kids to do their homework, and – you guessed it – motivate ourselves to reach our goals!
HEADS UP: When choosing a reward, it’s important to pick something that fits the goal you’re trying to achieve and doesn’t derail your efforts. For example, if you’re trying to eat healthier, you might treat yourself to a new workout outfit or a massage, instead of a special dessert.
19 Delightful Ideas for Rewarding Yourself
There are endless possibilities when it comes to learning how to reward yourself. As you go through this list, keep in mind what would truly motivate you. What would you love to receive as a gift?
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Take a day off from work or school
- Go on a weekend getaway
- Schedule a professional photo shoot
- Get a massage or manicure/pedicure
- Treat yourself to a fancy dinner
- Go shopping and buy a new outfit, accessory, or pair of shoes!
- Eat a special dessert
- Buy yourself flowers
- Book a facial
- Hire someone to clean your house or detail your car
- Enjoy a date night with your spouse or movie night with your kids
- Plan a cozy afternoon to read the fiction novel you can’t wait to crack open (Here are some of my favorites)
- See a movie or go to a concert
- Adopt a pet
- Book a hair appointment (splurge on highlights!)
- Subscribe to a new streaming membership (like Frndly TV or Spotify)
- Enjoy a bubble bath (complete with new bath bombs and a good book!)
- Visit your favorite store or shopping plaza all by yourself
- Buy a bunch of discounted gift cards and label them as rewards for specific goals (just don’t use them until you reach your goal!)
Make it easy to choose your reward by keeping a running wish list of things you want to do or buy. I keep my list in Notion along with estimated prices so I can better assign the effort of a goal to how expensive the reward should be.
The Best Part
Not only is rewarding yourself fun, it’s quite addicting.
Every time you redeem a reward from your list (whether you use them to reach important milestones or to achieve a specific goal or a combination of both!) dopamine spikes in your brain and says,
“WAY 👏 TO 👏 GO 👏. Let’s do this again.”
That dopamine spike will spark a desire to set your next goal and the next and the next, which all come with their own specific rewards.
That’s how the cycle of success goes. You set a goal, you work hard, you reach it, you celebrate, and then you start dreaming about the next goal. Rinse and repeat!
You’re well on your way to staying motivated and achieving your goals. But it’s important to remember that rewards are just one part of the equation.
when you’re feeling stuck
In order to be truly successful in achieving any goal, you also need to create a plan and put in the hard work.
Remember, The Six-Week Sprint is the best framework for this. There’s even a special spot inside the Goal Planner to add a visual of your reward!
Because when you incentivize yourself, you can stay motivated and achieve ANYTHING you set your mind to.
The only person who can truly appreciate those long hours, late nights, and all the times you pushed aside feelings of “I don’t want to” or “I don’t have time” and did the work anyway is YOU.
So don’t be shy.
Pick an incentive. Give yourself a treat. Celebrate what you’ve accomplished.
Your body craves validation for your hard work. Honor yourself—and honor your goal—by valuing the payoff.
What goal are you working towards right now?
Make sure you choose a reward to help push yourself toward the finish line. Let me know in the comments what you picked to celebrate!
Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.