By now you’ve had time to experiment with a few four day wins and have identified turtle steps that are truly small enough to move you forward consistently. Today, we’re talking about choosing rewards that actually motivate you to complete your four day wins.
Rewards are something that many people struggle with: some people can’t think of any, some people won’t allow themselves to have the rewards they’ve promised themselves. We’re going to deal with each one of these issues. If you fall into one of these groups, take heart! You are not alone.
What to do if you can’t think of any rewards, or the rewards that you do think of have zero motivating factor for you? Does designing a reward feel like more work than it is worth? First step, check in to see if you’re getting enough sleep. On a recent training call with Martha Beck, she explained this key factor in identifying rewards. Exhausted people do not have the energy to go for a hike, play with their latest creative project or do just about anything that requires additional effort. If you fall into this category, you may want to think about rewards that honor your exhausted state. Ideas for this could be going to bed fifteen minutes earlier, hiring a housekeeper to do the cleaning for the week, or just allowing yourself fifteen minutes in the evening to do absolutely nothing. Like turtle steps, if you are exhausted, you will likely want to start very small for rewards. In fact, it might be well worth it to switch your four day wins from ‘working’ on whatever habit you are trying to change to ‘working’ on ensuring you get enough sleep.
What to do it you’re rested and still struggling to cough up anything that doesn’t sound completely deadly? It may be that you’re falling into the trap of choosing what I think of as women’s magazine rewards. You promise yourself a pedicure, a long bubble bath, or a small square of expensive dark chocolate. So freakin boring, folks – none of these things would motivate me to even get out of my chair. Rewards are where you get to be creative and design things that really work for you. Get outside of the standard box and start to think of things that delight your senses or feel like play. For me, spending time barefoot in grass, redesigning my bathroom so that it looks like a jungle, brushing my cat, and reading snarky movie reviews make my list of rewards.
If you are stuck, here are some questions that might help. What do you love to look at, smell, taste, hear or touch? What types of play did you love as a kid? If you loved to dress up, consider going to a costume store and just spending twenty minutes trying on absurd costumes. Do you secretly want to play Bejeweled but never allow yourself the time to do so without guilt? When is the last time you played with glitter glue? If you had unlimited amounts of money and could travel anywhere, where would it be? See if you can’t come up with creative rewards around this – planning your dream trip, listening to music from the area you would love to visit, finding an online shop that sells things from this location, etc. Did you ever secretly dream of being a rock star? Film your own music video with your phone! You don’t have to show it to anyone, just have some fun designing, planning and playing with it. See if you can’t stretch yourself and let the act of designing rewards itself become a fun habit!
Let’s deal with our other potential block – you think of rewards, but you don’t allow yourself to actually have them, even when you complete your four day wins. Welcome to the club, friends. We could go into the various potential “why’s” here – societal pressure to be productive above all else, old beliefs about unworthiness to feel joy, fear of being willing to receive – but that will not solve the problem. What we want is a concrete action plan to start opening up to pleasure and delight. I’ve designed this series of four day wins for you to play with. Feel free to slog through your other habit-changing four day wins if you’d like, but I’d personally recommend ditching them until you’re joyfully giving yourself rewards.
|#1||Write the intention below on an index card and stick in on your bathroom mirror. Read at least once daily. (Bonus points – leave it up until you’re embracing rewards)|
“I, (Your Name), am in the process of opening up to receive more pleasure and delight.”
|You don’t have to choose one!|
|#2||Notice during these four days where you do allow yourself to receive, to feel pleasure or be delighted. Keep a list of these experiences.||You don’t have to choose one!|
|#3||Notice during these four days how you feel/what you’re thinking when people you love express their pleasure and delight. Keep a list of these experiences.||You don’t have to choose one!|
|#4||Choose a reward that you’ve wanted to give yourself and spend 2 minutes each day visualizing giving yourself the reward.||You don’t have to choose one!|
|#5||Working with the same reward from last week, spend 5 minutes each day writing a journal entry about how awesome it was to give yourself the reward and how delighted you felt.||If you’re feeling up to it, give yourself the reward that you wrote about this week.|
Excellent! If you complete this plan, or use it to design your own plan, you’ll have twenty days of getting used to the idea that delight and pleasure belong in your life. They do!
Above all, rewards should feel juicy and exciting. Changing habits is not an easy thing, and it takes something powerful to motivate us to continue on the path. I would love to hear from you on how your habit-changing process is going, and your experiences with choosing rewards. If you’re struggling and would like some help with something specific, please leave a comment. If you are triumphant, or have juicy reward suggestions, please comment! We can all benefit from hearing each other’s ideas!