As a self-professed procrastinator who also teaches goal-setting, I am well aware of the importance of rewards. I reward myself at every opportunity. If I didn't, I wouldn't get anything done!
The other day I found myself staring at my kids' playroom. When I say it was a disaster, that's kind of like referring to a tsunami as a big wave. The mess had completely taken over the entire basement. There was no one spot that was less messy than another. It was just complete chaos. I knew I had to find a more effective organizational system, but where to start? The sheer enormity of the job had me frozen, and I kept putting it on the back burner, which wasn't helping anything because the kids were continuing to play and make the situation worse every day.
You know that nagging feeling you get when there's something you need to do, and it's been undone for way too long? That feeling actually creates mental stress, and takes a little bit of joy out of your life. But when that thing finally gets done, it feels so nice, kind of like a small part of your brain smiles and thanks you for taking that item off of its workload. At some point along the way, I realized that putting off a task feels way worse than just getting it done and over with, because you still get the internal reward of "Yea, I did that!", without all the mental stress that comes with procrastinating. Just knowing how much better I would feel once it was done helped motivate me to get moving.
I read in a book once that if you struggle with getting a task done, you should break it down in teeny tiny steps, and reward yourself after completing each step. For example, if you had to make a phone call that you were nervous about, first just find the phone number. Then make yourself a cup of tea and take some calming breaths. Then, if you need any reference material, go and collect that. Next, have a piece of chocolate. Lastly, make the phone call. After you have finally completed the task, give yourself a bigger reward.
It sounded like a good idea to me. A little time-consuming, with all that stopping to reward yourself, but still faster than not getting around to it at all. So I gave it a shot (eventually--I had to put it off for a while first). I found that it really did work, and I was hooked on the power behind rewarding myself.
The truth is, we don't tend to get a lot of rewards in life. Too many people take too little pleasure in their own life. Hard work is important, even necessary, if you want to get anywhere in this world. Dedication and discipline are required to get better at your career, your relationships, and even your hobbies. But that doesn't mean you can't take a moment to enjoy yourself. If knowing that a shoulder rub will be yours to relish after you get through your workout, and that knowledge helps you to actually do the workout, then why on earth would you choose to pass that up?
I'm now tackling my kids' playroom a little at a time, with help from some big plastic tubs and frequent rewards. Now that I've started, it's not as overwhelming as I originally thought. I'm making progress, the floor is becoming visible again, my mental stress is easing, and I'm getting to enjoy a few rewards. It kind of makes me wonder why I was procrastinating at all.
I am so glad you are here! Welcome to my blog. This is your space, too. My name is Amy, and I am no stranger to the ups and downs of life. Join me as we search for beauty, authenticity, tell our truth, and hold space for each other in the messiness of life.