Reward Yourself Along the Way: Stepping Stones to Your Goals

sk lamont Reward Yourself Along the Way Stepping Stones to Your GoalsThis week’s post is a simple yet effective strategy that I have found extremely beneficial for getting my edits out the door. The last couple of weeks have been a tough road, and there’s nothing I hate worse than doing lots of hard work with no fun involved.

At the end of my first week I really wanted to throw in the towel, walk away, and do something fun like; watch a movie, play a game, have a glass of wine, read. Anything to get away from the task at hand!

The first week went really well, but coming into the second week when the task was taking longer than I expected, I could feel myself starting to flag.

Create stepping stones to support yourself on the way to your goal.

A Simple Strategy

Keeping momentum up for a week when I was really cranking was relatively easy, but the second week I began to slow right down. This simple strategy really helped me out, and I think it’s an important one to talk about, for those of us who are struggling to get to the finish line.

Delayed Gratification Goals

What I discovered, that worked well for me, over the last couple of weeks was delayed gratification; also known as—rewarding yourself for working your butt off, not now, but later. I started working in two or three hour chunks, and put a nice reward in place that I got to indulge in after I put my time in.

It didn’t have to be expensive or elaborate:

  • Like a new book on my kindle.
  • A new app for my phone.
  • A delicious desert.
  • A craft item that I’ve been after for a while.
  • At the end of the night, a glass of wine to enjoy—don’t do this one in the morning, or it’ll really mess your day up!

Whatever floats your boat!

The Carrot and the Stick Method

My new reward system worked great when I stared implementing it halfway through my mountainous journey. It gave me a new lease of life and made me excited about getting to my reward.

The reward only had to meet two criteria:
1) It was cheap and easy to make happen.
2) That I really really wanted it.

I also find having a bigger final goal reward in place for when you complete the entire piece, like going out to dinner, is a nice incentive, too.

Grand Finale Goal

Having a grand finale goal is always a great idea for when you complete a large project.

Reward Yourself Along the Way Stepping Stones to Your GoalsLike smoking a cigar and downing a bottle of champagne! All joking aside; I have heard of writers that celebrate when they complete a novel, by doing something unique that they always do when they reach their goal.

The Finish Line

I am proud to announce that I am finished, at least with this part of the journey. So time to smoke my cigar and have some R&R, before the next leg of the journey begins. Who knows what surprises lie ahead!

What are your thoughts?

I’d love to know what you think! What strategies have you used to get yourself to complete tasks? What do you do to hold yourself accountable? Or have you found yourself walking away because the task at hand was too difficult? What is your special way to celebrate when you achieve your goals?

sk lamont Reward Yourself Along the Way Stepping Stones to Your Goals

Please share your comments in the comment box below, along with any other ideas you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you!

Oh, and don’t forget to enter my giveaway for an excellent writing resource: A Copy of Story Trumps Structure by Steven James

How do you stay on track?

Follow me on twitter @sk_lamont

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12 replies
  1. Kim Bailey Deal
    Kim Bailey Deal says:

    Great tips to achieve a goal, SK. I’ve been working on that delayed gratification the last few weeks. It’s like starting an exercise routine or healthy eating lifestyle. But the more we do it the easier it gets to tackle the tasks that can sometimes be a drag. Breaking it up into smaller, more easily achievable steps is a great way to manage things. I have a thing I like to do when I reach a goal, and that is watch one of my favorite movies. I have a list of them I’ve seen over and over, but they are inspiring and cathartic. It gives me some inspiration and motivation to go do the next thing. Wonderful post!

    • S.K. Lamont
      S.K. Lamont says:

      Movies!! Yes, I love them. I too have a few favorites that I must have seen 50 times, some for inspiration, and some just make me feel like I’ve come home. I also love the joyous revelry of an epic adventure. I totally agree, movies can be so cathartic and just what we need to set off on the next leg of our adventure through this life! Thank you so much for your wonderful comments and for sharing!

  2. Karen Doll
    Karen Doll says:

    Sage advice, SK. I also find that rewarding myself along the way is helpful and refreshing. I think I learned this while gardening. I used to head out to our rather large rock garden that spreads from the back deck all the way around the corner and up to the front left edge of our driveway. I seemed to have it in my head that I needed to weed the entire garden in one fell swoop. Needless to say, it was exhausting and eventually it became this gigantic thorn in my hands so I’d put it off instead of tackling it weekly which only made it a much more daunting task. And, I think delayed gratification rewards are especially helpful to writers…we pour our passions into our words and stories, fall in love with our characters and word paintings in our poems and that’s exhausting, not to mention all of the ordinary and/or tedious paperwork, record keeping, outlining or the sometimes fun and sometimes grueling research efforts. Writing is hard work! Yes, sometimes it flows along effortlessly…Yay! Generally, any work of passion takes a lot out of a person, but knowing that just around the next page or just after another good solid hour of effective work
    “a shiny copper penny gleaming in the sun” reward is waiting for us to pick it up, refreshing us and revving us up to go at it again. I really like the idea of bigger and bigger rewards following longer bigger tasks! Some of my copper penny rewards are a jaunt outside to visit my hens checking for eggs, have a sit in the shade sipping a favorite drink (non-alcoholic) and listen to the country sing to me or a sweet treat.

    • S.K. Lamont
      S.K. Lamont says:

      I love your reward Karen of being outside and listening to the country sing to you! Makes me want to go outside right now. It’s probably something I don’t do enough, but it’s so rejuvenating and refreshing and can work wonders in soothing our souls after a hard day working! Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. James Stack
    James Stack says:

    Okay, I’ve been postponing the editing of my novel (the one before NaNoWriMo that came back from my editor with comments during Nov – some major) for months – I can’t bring myself to turn to it. There are other things – there are always other things – soon it will be the April PAD. BUT I MUST GET IN GEAR! Thanks for this post. I’ll try it and see what happens. I have about two weeks to make it happen. Then I’ll reward myself – how TBD as of now. Believe it or not, I have cleared my deck (but never the clutter on my desk) so I can start tomorrow. So long as I have uninterrupted time, I can get it done. I can get it done. I can get it done. I can get it done. (Each of those is a stepping stone.)

    • S.K. Lamont
      S.K. Lamont says:

      Awesome James! I’m excited that you’re already taking steps to get those edits done, I know it can be a daunting task. And, you’re are so right, just getting it done is a stepping stone and a reward in itself, but sometimes I think it helps to sweeten the deal. 😉 I wish you every success over the coming weeks and hope that you reach the finish line soon.
      Thank you so much for commenting and sharing!

  4. Ally McCormick
    Ally McCormick says:

    I never thought of rewarding myself for goals reached. What a great idea. Sure I might let out a yahoo and feel like I am silently congratulating myself. I might even share the news on FB or with my family, if it is a big goal, but actually rewarding myself with something hadn’t occurred to me. I think a movie is a good option. Thanks for sharing.

    • S.K. Lamont
      S.K. Lamont says:

      I’m glad you like the idea, Ally, I’ve discovered it to be extremely motivating. It helps me stay on track if I’m only allowed my reward, if say, I reach my two hour mark of solid work. Movies are a fantastic idea too. I think they really help put you in a different place so that you can come back to your work refreshed. Thank you so much for sharing!

  5. Pam
    Pam says:

    Like Ally, I had never thought about rewarding myself when reaching a goal. But this is the second time today that I’ve read about rewarding ourselves when a goal is reached. Since I can’t seem to make the goal deadlines I make for myself, maybe this will help.

    • S.K. Lamont
      S.K. Lamont says:

      Haha! Pam, I think you might be getting the nudge to put some rewards in your future! I know they have certainly helped me immensely! You’ll have to let me know if it works out for you! Thank you for sharing!

  6. Will Hogarth
    Will Hogarth says:

    I love the strategy of stepping stone rewards. A little reward when I complete a chapter. It helps move me forward.
    If there is a little something I’d like, or would like to do, it becomes a case of “Just get this chapter out first, then its something for me”

    • S.K. Lamont
      S.K. Lamont says:

      Yes, Will, this is exactly how it’s been working for me. A little carrot on the end of the stick works wonders! Thank you so much for sharing!

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