Mental Monday

Remember to Reward Yourself - How to Pat Yourself on the Back

Everyone likes a pat on the back every once in a while. And there’s no better time to get one than when you’re out of your comfort zone, challenging yourself to improve, nervous about whether you can succeed.

Most people approach changing their health habits from a position of "pain". They constantly nag themselves, berate themselves and expect nothing but perfection, no matter how much progress is made. Tools of the trade are guilt, doubt, shame and self-flogging. Instead of celebrating the 24 pounds they’ve lost, they see the six they still haven’t lost. Sound familiar? To people used to beating themselves up, it may seem like the best way to get motivated. But consider this: if you attempted to motivate an employee like that, how long do you think they’d stick around? How successful would they be?

Let’s do it differently this time. Try to approach your goals from a position of "possibilities" instead. Find ways to use regular rewards to pat yourself on the back and give a word of encouragement. Instead of focusing on what you do wrong, try paying more attention to what you do right. While straight talk and brutal honesty are often good for getting your butt moving, for sustained motivation, the positive approach will keep you from burning out.

Rewards create a feeling of doing something you want to do, not just what you’re forcing yourself to do. Even the smallest of rewards can work wonders as you travel from milestone to milestone, pound to pound, and mile to mile.

Here’s how to set up a good rewards system:

  • Choose some benchmarks and reward levels. You can also reward yourself for levels of consistency.
  • Make the reward meaningful to you. As a reward, a new pair of shoes may not hold as much motivation as a simple night alone with a book. Then again, it might.
  • Choose two or three options from the Reward Roster below or come up with a few reward options of your own. It doesn’t take much. Sometimes, the best rewards are those you can’t buy.
  • A lot of small rewards, used for meeting smaller goals, are more effective than relying solely on the bigger rewards that require more work and more time.
  • Don’t use food as a reward. Even good food. It’s just too much of a slippery slope. Don’t even mess with it.
  • Plan to celebrate. Figure out now how you’re going to celebrate reaching your health, fitness or nutrition goal. Involve other people, tell them about it. Create a celebration that you can anticipate and then keep it within sight all the time.
  • Be honest with yourself. Fudging the numbers mentally, or "borrowing" against the next reward hurts the cause of building a lifetime habit. Remember to keep your focus on building a habit, not just figuring out how to get the reward.

  • Compliment yourself. Write down what you would say to anyone else who accomplished what you did.
  • Create an actual plaque or trophy.
  • Give yourself badges of honor for different levels of accomplishment.
  • Take a vacation or weekend getaway.
  • Take a day off from any goal activities.
  • Put $1 in a jar every time you meet a goal. When it gets to $50, treat yourself.
  • Create a Trophy Scrapbook, where you keep mementos from your accomplishments.
  • See a movie.
  • Make a grab bag of little prizes. When you reach a significant goal, reach in and get your reward!
  • Go for a spa treatment or massage.
  • Buy yourself a gift certificate.
  • Take a limo ride.
  • Subscribe to a magazine you always wanted.
  • Go canoeing or do something outdoorsy.
  • Watch your favorite TV show.
  • Buy something for your hobby.
  • Read a funny book.
  • Celebrate "100% Days". If you reach 100% of your goals that day, choose two rewards.
  • Find some time to be by yourself.
  • Pay someone to do the yardwork or house cleaning this week.

Written by Mike Kramer, Staff Writer

How do you reward yourself? What kind of reward would most motivate you?


"When faced with a challenge, look for a way, not a way out." David Weatherford


Kyle Gershman said...

Wonderful post Michelle! For me it all comes down to one of your points..."Be honest with yourself.".

That actually is my own reward and compliment on a daily basis. I became unhealthy because I wasn't honest with myself. I allowed for every rationalization under the sun and stars to become and stay unhealthy. I also lie to myself in order to cope with the challenges of getting healthy.

This is my battle, my journey, and I'm accountable to it.

Thanks for your thoughts today!

Annie, The Amazing Shrinking Girl said...

Hey Michelle,

Welcome back!! I know you came back the other week, but just had time to post a comment! Anyway you've been missed!

Happy holidays to you and yours!

Miz said...

for me the rewards need to keep changing :)
I get bored easily so I have a list (my decadence list. Im a little over excited about it so I did a video at miz on it a while back) I CARRY WITH ME EVERYWHERE :)

Jen said...

new clothes are always a great reward for me!

MochaTrina@Me So Hongry... said...

Thanks for the reward ideas. I haven't really been rewarding myself for the 45 pounds I've lost. But yesterday my mom took me on a mini shopping spree so I think that more than made up for my lack of rewards.

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