I have a task for you. Take a minute to look back through your planner and see how far you’ve come. What victories have you seen? What challenges have you overcome?
Most importantly, how have you rewarded yourself?
Earning Rewards is the last focus of the A.C.H.I.E.V.E. Method, and it’s a very important one. It helps you stay motivated to keep working towards your goals.
Oddly enough, it’s also the part of the journey that many of us neglect the most. Let me just say right now that this is not a wise move. If you push and push and push yourself to set your goals, meet those benchmarks, and evaluate yourself month in and month out without taking the time to reward your efforts, you will end up losing motivation and growing in frustration until your efforts fall apart or your frustration causes you to erupt.
But even if you know that to be true, you might still struggle with how to fix it. I get that. It’s hard to reward ourselves. So, let’s take a look at why we struggle with the reward stage of the process and what we can do to fix it.
Why is it such a struggle to reward ourselves? I can sum the answer up in one quick statement: we think self care is a curse word.
If you don’t believe me, just mention self care on social media and see the firestorm of contradictory opinions that pop up in response. People either staunchly defend it or attack it without mercy. But, in all honesty, even those who staunchly defend it often have to defend it in their own minds as well because self care has so frequently been attached to selfishness.
Think about times when you’ve developed healthy habits that other people have attacked.
“You have time to read a novel? Lucky you!”
“I haven’t been on a date night in years! Must be nice.”
“I’m glad you have time for rest and a good night’s sleep. I’ll just rest when I’m dead.”
“Oh, I don’t ever eat sugar. It’s not healthy. Why don’t you eat an apple or an avocado instead of enjoying that piece of chocolate?”
These little comments attack our self care subtly but effectively until we’re convinced that anything we do for our own nourishment is selfish, unhealthy, or a waste of time – if not all three!
There’s a problem here, though, because any strategy that is going to keep you motivated to meet your goals and stay on track relies heavily on a healthy understanding of self care. Without rewarding and reinforcing your progress through self care, you are just not going to stay motivated.
So, what is that healthy understanding? Well, it’s not the definition that critics give of sitting around eating bonbons all day while ignoring the world around you! On the contrary, it is the age-old insistence that you’ll hear in any airline safety presentation: put the oxygen mask on your own face before you try to put it on anyone else’s – yes, even your own child’s. If you can’t breathe, how can you help anyone else? You’ll pass out before you can truly help them, and then you’ll both be in trouble.
That’s self care. You have to be healthy if you’re going to make progress and, ultimately, have a positive impact on those around you.
In order to find this healthy place, you have to recognize that you are inherently valuable. You matter. You are important. You are worthwhile and significant. You are a treasure. Not because of what you do or how well you take care of everyone around you, but because of who you are. This is critical because it means that you are worth taking care of simply because you’re you. You don’t have to justify it or defend it. It’s just the truth.
If you don’t believe you are valuable, you will not take care of yourself. And if you don’t take care of yourself, you will break down. So, in order to determine a strategy for staying motivated, you have to first believe that you are worth it.
With all of that in mind, the easiest way to hold yourself accountable and stay diligent in rewarding yourself is to work self care into your routine.
It might be a monthly treat after finishing your regular monthly evaluation. It could also be a weekly visit with a friend or even a daily piece of chocolate. (Yes, you can reach for the chocolate. It’s okay.) Of course, it could also be something that helps you reach a goal, such as a fun weekend hike to reward yourself for being diligent on the treadmill all month!
The key is to make it part of your plan and routine and to realize that self care is just as important for your health as that time on the treadmill.
When you make self care a part of the plan, you not only improve your chances of reaching your goals, but you also do so in a way that helps you become a healthier person.
Why don’t you give it a try?
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