Is the carrot and stick principle still work in today’s world? The short answer is yes. The reward and punish system still work and you can leverage it to build good habits that help you reach your goals faster. This is why it is important to celebrate your hard work and to reward yourself for the effort that you have put in.
In her best-selling book, Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin said it well:
“When we give ourselves treats, we feel energized, cared for, and contented, which boosts our self-command — and self-command helps us maintain our healthy habits.”
On the other hand, when you don’t get any treats, you feel depleted, resentful, and angry, and you justified in self-indulgence.
Imagine that you have poured in all the hard work but you don’t get anything in return, how does that make you feel? Not good, right?
That’s why rewarding yourself for your hard work is important.
Here are the 3 simple reasons why it is important to reward yourself for your effort:
1. Reward makes you feel good and drives you further
How do you train a dog? You train her with a treat. And we’re much the same. We can train ourselves to do more by rewarding ourselves.
Giving yourself treats will boost your mood and make you happy.
Imagine rewarding yourself with a spa session, a new hairdo, a day off doing whatever you love, a mini shopping spree, an overseas vacation for a week, a slice of delicious chocolate cake, etc, how do these treats make you feel?
When you give yourself a treat, your brain releases a chemical calls dopamine. Dopamine makes you feel good and happy.
As a result, you become more motivated and driven to do the task. And you will look forward to doing the task because it makes you feel good.
While it is important to reward yourself, not all rewards are created the same and you must choose the right treats to create positive reinforcement.
Using the wrong rewards are not going to help you build a better habit.
For example, using food as a reward can be a bad idea if your goal is to lose weight. You don’t want to work hard in the gym and then reward yourself with a plate of hot chocolate fondue.
Hence, be careful with the rewards that you choose. Read this article to learn more about how you can properly reward yourself:
2. It works as a positive reinforcement
According to this article from The Academic Support Officer on JMC’s Sydney campus, rewards can be a great incentive to keep you working towards your goals.
When your behavior is followed by a pleasant outcome, you are more likely to repeat the behavior. And this is called positive reinforcement.
Connecting your hard work to rewards effectively not only gives you a mental break but also motivates you to want to do more of it.
Therefore, use treats as a positive reinforcement to build your momentum and grow your habits.
Just like this powerful saying from Tony Robbins:
“People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed. Similarly, when someone is failing, the tendency is to get on a downward spiral that can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Successful people are always focusing on the rewards. They keep their eyes on the goals, the rewards, the results, and the success that they want at all times.
They don’t look at the problems, failures, the “what-ifs”, challenges, and setbacks because they know that whatever they focus on is whatever they will get.
Hence, keep your eyes on the rewards. Focus your thoughts on your goals and the results that you want.
Remember what Napoleon Hill said?
“Focus on the possibilities for success, not on the potential for failure.”
Give yourself treat and create a reward system to “train” yourself to take action.
A lot of people fail to achieve their goals because they don’t reward themselves. They don’t feel good for the actions that they have taken.
This makes them feel that their effort amount to nothing; that their hard work has gone down to the drain.
Eventually, they feel dejected and they lost the momentum to take action.
This is why people fail at their goals. Never let this happen to you.
3. Because you deserve it
Why do you want to reward yourself? Well, the answer is simple, you deserve it because you have poured in the hard work.
You don’t reward yourself if you don’t work on it, right? And if you did put in the hard work and effort, why you’re not rewarding yourself?
If you have seriously worked hard for the goals that you set and you take massive action to create the results you want, you should give yourself a treat.
Don’t ever feel that you don’t deserve it.
This reminds me of the Jars Money Management System from Harv Eker. It is a system that you can use to properly manage your money. And in this system, Eker actually dedicated one out of the six jars for “Play” account.
Meaning, all the money that you put into this Play account, you use it to spoil yourself and your family. You use the money in this account for your leisure expenses. You use the money to reward yourself and give yourself treats.
This is what Harv Eker said in his book, Secrets of The Millionaire Mind – a book that I strongly recommend you read:
“Some people save, save, save, and while their logical and responsible self is fulfilled, their “inner spirit” is not. Eventually, this “fun-seeking” spirit side will say, “I’ve had enough. I want some attention too,” and sabotage their results.
On the other hand, if you spend, spend, spend, not only will you never become rich, but the responsible part of you will eventually create the situation where you don’t even enjoy the things you spend your money on, and you’ll end up feeling guilty.”
When it comes to rewarding yourself, the same principle applies.
You can’t just work, work, work, and work even more. When all you have in life is work and no play, you will feel empty inside. Eventually, your soul will crave for plays and you will sabotage your hard work.
Besides, if go without taking a break or rewarding yourself, you may suffer burnout. You will quickly lose your motivation and feel out of balance.
This is why you need both work and play. Like what Eker said, you need both the saving account and the play account.
You can’t work without the other.
Thus, reward yourself for your hard work. You deserve it.
Now that you understand why it is important to reward yourself, but you have to make sure you know how to do it properly.
Choose the right reward that will help you build the habit and reinforce your progress.
You want to use the reward to grow your momentum so that you will take more action and create more success in the future. You don’t want to use a reward that makes you feel lazy and is not helping your progress.