Planning

Reward yourself!

Hi there and I hope your week, and month, so far has been a great one.

The end of each month is a time of reflection for me. Not in a huge way but I like to think about what I’ve been up to and what I’d like to welcome in my life soon. It’s a nice opportunity to think about change, that which I’ve made and that which I would like to make.

Which brings me to talking about a nice way to help make positive change in life.

When it comes to making change or working toward goals for ourselves, (to borrow from a tried and true analogy) it is so easy to use too much stick and not enough carrot. We tend to beat ourselves up for what we haven’t done, yet gloss over any of our successes as something we should have done anyway. We might feel happy or proud of ourselves but at the same time we focus on the next, as-yet unattained step rather than stopping to savour the sweet taste of making something from nothing.

Small or large, the very act of crossing something off the list or making good on a promise to ourselves is an act worthy of celebration. A perfect way to do this is to include rewards as part of the dreaming and goal-setting process.

Can you imagine how much more fun working toward a goal would be if you knew there were these little nuggets waiting for you at milestones along the way?

Knowing that you’ve got a massage waiting for you once you’ve finished the first five chapters of your novel makes those punishing hours at the laptop that much more tolerable, and how much more proud would you feel if you took a pause after this achievement than if you just started punching out chapter six?

I think that’s what they in the business call a ‘win-win.’

Building in the rewards should be fun in itself! It adds a nice magical element when thinking about goals to allow yourself to properly sit down and list all the stuff you’d love to do, all the things you only do when you’re ‘treating’ yourself, and then to purposefully set these against particular milestones toward creating the life you want.

This sounds just crazy enough to work.

The other great thing about rewarding yourself is that after you do, you will begin to associate the process of the change you are undertaking with the pleasant rewards you have given yourself, boosting your good feelings about the whole thing in general and making it more likely for you to stay on track. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving!

One caveat in this is to ensure the rewards we set for ourselves are not contrary to our values or the end goal. Buying a gorgeous and (obviously!) expensive pair of handmade Italian leather boots isn’t the best way to celebrate paying off debt, nor is it a good way to reward yourself if you have a hunch that you’d have more fun taking your niece and nephew to the movies than to spend a day shopping.

The best part is that the rewards are just for you so make them as fabulous and meaningful as your imagination can muster.

Then let me know how you’d go – I’d love to hear all about the great ideas you have for rewards. I daresay a few of these will get added to my list too!

Life lessons from the Natural History Museum

In June/July 2013 I travelled through the United States for a few weeks on my own. At the time I wrote posts about my experiences and published them on another blog, but want to share some of them with you over the next few weeks. The first comes from my visit to New York City. I hope you enjoy.

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Today I visited the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and it gave me a lot to think about for many reasons. Aside from the obvious exhibitions, which were great, I thought a lot about how history shapes our lives. I’m not talking so much about history in a world context (although that certainly impacts our lives greatly and is worth further discussion), but more specifically about how our own life history provides a filter through which we view the world, including how we live presently and in the future.

The kind of life we plan or imagine for ourselves can be skewed by previous experiences and the actions we take can fit within a ‘safe’ framework built up over our lives. For example, if we were told we couldn’t sing or had an experience where we were afraid of flying then these become the facts of our lives, and a filter through which we see the world.

The thing is, maybe we can’t sing like a rock god but that shouldn’t diminish the enjoyment we still get from belting out our favourite tune in the shower! Not singing would be to let our past experiences shadow how we live presently. The same could be said if we let one bad experience with flying impact our dreams to live in Italy for a year. See how this second example of a previous event has a really profound impact on the future? Unless you live in Europe and can catch a train, you become faced with a dilemma about how to make your Italian dream a reality. Do you continue to dream but know you can’t do it because you will never get on a plane? It would be so easy, and totally flippant, to suggest we could just decide we don’t have a problem with flying anymore and jet off to Italy, but the truth is we genuinely have feelings associated between our history and future actions. Rather than being able to just remove the fear from the situation we can at least look at how much our history informs our future so that our decisions are considered in a bigger view.

It is important to learn from the past and much of our growth can be attributed to what we’ve learned up until this point, but perhaps the more critical thing to consider is how we can strike a balance between valuable lessons learned in life, and identifying the old beliefs which now hold us back from trying to live the life we want to live.

As with exhibits in a museum, what happens in the past is history. How we look at the past when considering the future is the one of the greatest gifts history can give.

Thanks for reading this article. Please let me know in the comments section below if there is something in your past currently impacting your future. I’d love to hear some individual experiences.