We’re always setting goals for ourselves and when we achieve them, what do we do? For those who have had a traditional upbringing, working hard to get somewhere is expected. But rather than carrying out these ‘responsibilities’ because you’ve grown up knowing that you’re meant to achieve these life goals or even mini achievements, it’s good to embrace the mindset that rewarding yourself is necessary.
Rewards increase dopamine levels in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps us feel happy and increases our memory retention, helps us sleep and regulates our mood and appetite. A surge in dopamine reinforces specific behaviours as worthwhile. Because dopamine is addictive, we physically and mentally crave that feeling again and again. When we feel content, we’re likely to be more productive. Hence, rewarding yourself is all about cultivating a new habit and long-term personal growth.
When to reward yourself?
Often, we don’t reward ourselves enough. Many of us focus too much on the negatives like how much work is still not done and why the completed task isn’t perfect. Having immediate satisfaction is a wonderful feeling, but there’s also something about delayed gratification. Holding out for later builds resilience, determination and it’s even more satisfying when you’ve achieved your objectives. The big rewards are important, but small frequent ones are just as essential.
How to reward yourself?
- Go on a long break or holiday.
- Binge watch the drama that’s been sitting on your to watch list for months.
- Start on the art project or hobby you’ve been wanting to take up but put off because it’s too time consuming.
- Start reading the new book you couldn’t find time for before.
- Food binge; ice cream, chocolates, cakes or anything unhealthy that you wouldn’t normally allow yourself to eat more than a certain portion.
- Sleep in, wake up late and do nothing.
- Order takeaways and don’t cook. The kitchen, if it isn’t your favourite place to be, is not a place for you now that you’ve achieved your goals. But just for a temporary period of course.
- Spend time with your loved ones on a little getaway. Turn that work phone off and make sure you’re spending a 100% with them.
- Visit the theatre, museum, walk around in your favourite art gallery, spend a whole day in the park… the idea is to just do something relaxing, not rushing and to do it mindlessly.
- Take time off work for as long as you can.
- Splurge on luxuries! If you love a luxury timepiece, a Rolex watch makes popular choice. Just remember that servicing your Rolex watch is essential to keep it working perfectly.
- Rejig your old playlist that you’ve been meaning to update with new songs and dance like nobody’s watching.
- Wake up early, but go to the café. Have someone prepare you your breakfast and hot cup of coffee.
- Do something scary and adventurous. Go bungee jumping, sky diving, rock climbing, abseiling or take part in any adrenaline rush activities to get that high.
Why you need to reward yourself
When someone repeatedly encourages you, you build self-confidence. Think of the times your parents encouraged you to stand up and take a few more steps when you were learning to walk. You didn’t give up. The cheers, and constant ‘You can do it’ are a great booster. You might be a lot older now, but the concept is still the same.
When you know that you’ll experience that rush of satisfaction when you’ve completed a task, then you will put it off less often. You’ll feel more motivated to work hard and to finish it.
You will become more determined and focused
With a goal in mind, and that big holiday within arm’s reach, you’ll be more driven to reach that goal quicker.
You’ll be able to eliminate distractions
Same as above, your focus will increase and you won’t be picking up the phone to scroll through social media posts or lounge on the sofa.
Regular positive reinforcement will develop good habits
It feels good and validating to check boxes off your to-do list. It propels you to work harder, stronger and more efficient. The rewards help give you that mental break while providing you with an extra bit of momentum to get back to the grind.