Goal Training-Part Three

If you’ve followed the steps to setting effective goals, breaking them down into consecutive steps and then breaking those components down into ridiculously easy steps, you’re ready for the third part of goal training-your rewards.

As simple and as fun as this part sounds, I can tell you that for some strange reason, the concept of giving one’s self a reward seems to be a difficult aspect for my clients. Sooo… I will reiterate this point several times in this post as I do when I’m coaching individuals-Giving yourself rewards for completion of the steps you’ve outlined is one of the MOST important parts of reaching your goals. Do not underestimate how effective rewards are to your success.

By now you’ve set your BHAG (your big, hairy, audacious goal). You’ve broken it down. You’ve made several ridiculously easy steps to complete. The next thing you need to do, BEFORE you move into action, is to create a list of small and big rewards. 

On the surface, this doesn’t sound that hard. In fact, after all the tedious planning and breaking things down, it seems like this is the most fun thing I’ve suggested yet. However, when I tell people about this next step, I immediately hear protests. I have no money! I can’t afford to give myself rewards! I’m trying to lose weight-the last thing I need is a treat! (and one that I heard from someone this week) I don’t deserve any rewards until I reach my big goal.   

First, let me define a reward. A reward is anything that makes you feel good. It DOES NOT have to cost money. It DOES NOT have to consume a lot of your time. It DOES NOT have to be food related (but it can be. The things I’ve accomplished with Tootsie Rolls is nothing short of amazing.) A reward should be, um, well, rewarding.

Here are some little rewards that some of my past clients have come up with: smell my favorite candle, check my facebook page, take a deep breath, put a sticker on my goal chart, have a cup of tea, listen to a song I like, look at an art book, give myself five minutes to read a celebrity gossip magazine, text my best friend.

Think of what your five senses love. What do you like to see? Smell? Taste? Hear? Touch? Brainstorm a list of tiny rewards that would a) take no more than five minutes of your time and that b) you would truly enjoy. When you’re done with this list, then think of some bigger rewards you could give yourself when you complete the bigger steps leading up to your goal. These rewards can be bigger in scope, time and cost. The important thing here is that you PERCEIVE them to be congruent to the task that was just completed. When you’re done with this list, come up with one, big, HUGE reward that you can give yourself when your BHAG is completed.

By now you should have three lists of rewards. One list should be tiny rewards that you will give yourself after you complete EACH ridiculously easy step. One list should be a set of bigger rewards that you will yourself when your complete a bigger step that aligns with your goal. And the third list should be one major reward that you will give yourself upon completion of your BHAG.  

Take my example of reorganizing and cleaning my kitchen. In my first post, I listed all of the steps I would need to complete in order to have a spotless and well-organized kitchen. ONE of these steps was cleaning out the fridge. I took this one step (Project Refrigerator) and broke this down into ridiculously easy steps. Now, when I go to complete each ridiculously easy step (ie: removing all of the condiments from the shelf on the fridge door), I will give myself a very small reward (ie: one Tootsie Roll).

When I’ve completed Project Refrigerator, I will then give myself a bigger reward (for me this will be 15 minutes scanning my latest Pottery Barn catalog). Then I will move onto another step-cleaning and organizing the pantry. I will continue to give myself little rewards after I complete each ridiculously easy step and then give myself a bigger reward when the pantry is done. When I’ve reached my BHAG and my entire kitchen is reorganized and cleaned, I will then give myself my big reward (for me, this is an afternoon at an art gallery with my cell phone turned off).

See how this works?

All of the rewards, the bigger ones and especially the smaller ones, help keep you motivated as you progress on your journey. Feel free to structure your steps however it works best for you and your lifestyle, but keep in mind that GIVING YOURSELF REWARDS is the secret to your success and the force behind your motivation.

Here’s  an example of how I helped a friend of mine revise her goal strategy using this type of goal training. My friend is trying to lose 25 pounds by the end of April (this is her BHAG). She had already established her big reward-she is going on a tropical vacation with her husband, sans children. In order to reach her goal, she has to a) follow her eating plan designed for her by a nutritionist (5 mini-meals per day) and b) follow her exercise plan(5 days at the gym per week). When I spoke with her, she had already decided to break down her BHAG into weekly goals.

Each week that she completes her 5 days of exercise and sticks with her eating plan, she gives herself a reward (for her, this is being able to watch her two favorite tv shows, uninterrupted by work). However, three weeks into her program, she began to notice her drive waning.

I know from my own experience that eating right and exercising each day is a challenge  in and of itself. For someone to wait until she’s been successful for an entire week to give herself a reward is just too long. I suggested setting up mini-rewards for each ridiculously easy step in order to keep the momentum going.

My friend has to plan and eat her five designated meals at certain times. AND she has to find time to go the gym five days per week (despite the stresses of work and family life). Each time she eats one of her designated meals, she gives herself a mini-reward. Then she gives herself a bigger reward each time she goes to the gym (because she perceives going to the gym as a bigger commitment than eating a mini-meal, I suggested she align the reward with the task at hand).

Now each time that this friend sticks to her meal plan, she immediately gets a reward. Each time she goes to the gym, she has something to look forward to when she’s done-her bigger reward. Each week that she successfully completes the program, she receives an even bigger reward and when she reaches her goal weight, she’s off to Hawaii.

Now, it’s your turn. 🙂


~ by projectlifedesign on February 4, 2010.

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