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100DC Day 100: Rewards and Recognition

100 Day Challenge: Rewards and RecognitionToday marks the final day of the 100 Day Challenge. It also marks the completion of one of my own goals, to blog about each day of the challenge in 100 consecutive days. If you’ve made it this far with me, I congratulate you! It’s been a long haul for both of us!

How do we mark the moment of our 100 day push toward excellence and success? Let me tell you a lesson I learned when I was 23 years old.

Within the course of about one month in 1987, I graduated from college, quit my job, and had our first baby, Jessica. It was a sudden, massive life change. Here is a short table showing some of my college-to-home transition:

OldNew
SchedulesDiscretionary time
Assignments To do lists
BossClients
GradesSelf-assessment
PaycheckHome business
TestsMilestones

After an entire lifetime with my schedule being dictated externally — first by my parents, then public schools, then college professors and advisors — suddenly I was on my own. Yes, there were the demands of my newborn, but little else in the way of outside structure to determine the course my life would take.

To be clear, I was not bored. Taking care of a baby — particularly your first baby — can be overwhelming in both its requirements and its significance. I mean we’re not just talking about a grade or a promotion, we’re talking about a human life.

Still, I could see that I was ill-prepared to handle the responsibility of self-direction. Perhaps even more central to the problem was that I had no idea how to motivate myself internally, since I’d never functioned outside the external reward model.

Alfie Kohn’s tome, Punished by Rewards, is an extreme look at the problems with external reward systems. It’s a fascinating read, even though I think he takes the idea over the edge. But I can personally testify to the problems of never learning how to reward yourself for accomplishments in a way that pushes you forward with urgency.

Learning how to motivate and reward your accomplishments internally is an essential tool for those who want an amazing life of constant growth and achievement.

Every year when the Oscar (Emmy – Grammy – Tony) awards come around, I get a little queasy. All the hoopla over a bunch of self-obsessed people giving each other rewards is just too much for me. I never watch and I do not care. Although the entire process is certainly spurned by the external attention and popularity, the awards (and promotion) themselves come from inside the group. But I have to admit that their internal award giving certainly motivates most of them.

For most of us, creating a reward for our accomplishments, a recognition for a job well done, a prize at the end of the race, is a critical part of getting us off our duffs and out of the path of least resistance.

Rewarding yourself or your accomplishments is an essential part of the combination for success. You probably kick yourself when you screw up. Why not pat yourself on the back when you reach an important milestone?

Rewards serve three main purposes in the course of setting and completing goals.

  1. Rewards make you feel good about yourself and your achievements
  2. Rewards make you feel good about the price you paid for the achievement
  3. Rewards reinforce the behavior and attitudes that led to those achievements.

How Do You Motivate and Reward Yourself?

Check Lists

I can’t explain why this is so motivating to me, but having a list of all the things I need to do and checking them off when completed feels great to me. I used to

Vision Boards

A simple piece of poster board, covered with images to represent your goals can be a real push for the visual person. Once a goal is reached or accomplished, that area of the board can be highlighted or outlined to show completion.

Blogging

Writing our your accomplishment as a way to journal your progress and share it with the world can be a significant. If you don’t have a blog of your own and would like an inexpensive option, check out the PopCred Network.

Gift

What is something you’d love to splurge on? What have you always wanted but could never justify? Determine to reward yourself with that item once you reach your goal. Once way to fund this is to create a dollar jar. Each time you complete a step toward your goal, plop a dollar in to the jar so that when complete, you will have the money on hand to make your purchase.

Celebrate

When you’ve completed a goal, have a party, go out on a special date, get together with friends or loved ones and have a blast. Do something you love.

I’m highly motivated by friends and fun. Having a big event to celebrate with people I love is a great motivator to me.

Trophy

Monica and I have been watching old episodes of Monk. (How did we entirely miss this series when it was on?) In a recent show, Monk is bemoaning the fact that his mother made a space on the mantle just for a trophy that he never got. As a middle-aged man, he still longed for a trophy. At the end of the show (spoiler alert!) his assistant gave him a box of trophies for being the world’s best detective.

In a similar vein, the biggest motivator to me as a college student to compete in beauty pageants was to get a tiara. To me it symbolized, finally, that I wasn’t the fat, ugly girl the bully in my life had said I was.

I’m in the process of making a trophy shelf in the rec room to hold all my kids’ soccer, karate, drama, ballroom, film editing, and academic awards. I’ll be adding our business product awards and my husband’s professor of the year plaque. Yes, I’ll be putting my old tiaras and music awards there as well. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll make myself a trophy to celebrate the completion of one of my biggest goals.

Vacation

One year for Mother’s Day my husband gave me an open plane ticket to go anywhere I wanted, with the promise to watch our little kids while I was gone. It was so good for me, that he gave me that every year for several years. A vacation can be the most rejuvenating and inspiring thing, particularly to those who are in constant demand and stress (hello, moms!).

Scrapbook

I had to put this for those crafters out there. As the official anti-craft, this wouldn’t motivate me at all. Never. Ever. But that’s beside the point. For some people, this is a great joy in life. Chronicling an accomplishment for future reminiscing and motivation — while using enormous creativity — can be a strong motivator.

If this is your thing, plan to get some special materials and make the best layout yet to remind you of your perseverance and strength!

Pamper

I love nothing in the world more than a deep tissue massage and, in particular, a massive foot rub. If this were imminent, I could be motivated to do almost anything. So whether it’s a shoulder rub, mani/pedi, facial, or whatever floats your boat, use the promise of a day of relation and pampering as you motivator to excel.

Keep It Going!

Now that you’ve reached the end of the road, it’s time to start again. Set new goals and keep moving forward.

One of the challenges of The 100 Day Challenge is that there is so much information to absorb. Fortunately, when you join The 100 Day Challenge, you have access to all the videos and information beyond the first 100 days and later have the opportunity to join the alumni program — which I’m a member of. This can be an enormous source of motivation and information.

Here’s to you and your future! May it be bright and filled with progress and improvement!

Join me in the 100 Day Challenge!

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • mangoleaf April 10, 2013, 8:54 am

    There is so much to absorb here! Good suggestions.

    This IS my problem. I don’t know how to convince myself that my own rewards are good enough. If I want something, I just go get it. I don’t withhold things until I accomplish a goal. How do you do that?

  • QuickerThanYou April 10, 2013, 9:57 am

    My problem is that my rewards tend to defeat the purpose of my goals. Like chocolate cake for working out. Um . . .

  • Alison Moore Smith April 10, 2013, 2:38 pm

    mangoleaf, oooooo you have brought up a personal difficulty I understand. What is to keep us from withholding a reward we are giving ourselves? Sometimes a public expression or accountability really does help in that area.

    That’s one reason the 100 day challenge is such a big help. You are connected to a community of people all working on goals and supporting each other.

    QuickerThanYou, hah, I’m not sure there’s much I can do about that one! I once saw a standup comic routine where the guy says he works out every day and can’t understand why he’s not losing weight. As he goes on you learn that he goes five miles on his rollerblades every day…on his treadmill. 🙂

    We have to find rewarding things that aren’t self-defeating, don’t we?
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…No Car Seats on Grocery Carts – Please!My Profile

  • Bryan Jacobson April 10, 2013, 4:33 pm

    Congratulations on achieving your goal of blogging everyday for 100 days! Impressive and inspiring.

  • Alison Moore Smith April 10, 2013, 10:39 pm

    Bryan, sincerely, thank you for noticing! I’ve been blogging for over a decade and this was definitely the most challenging blogging goal I’ve ever completed. 🙂 Your compliment is much appreciated!
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…The Pizza Factory Bait & Switch Promotion FailMy Profile

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