Infinite Inspiration: Reward Yourself

School of Dentistry

We read many inspirational books and listen to many seminars, and yet we are often surprised at how little progress we have made toward achieving our goals. After the initial excitement of motivation, we often see ourselves fall back into old patterns. The fact is, even if we read all the books in this world, and yet lack one quality, then it’s all in vain.

That one defining quality that separates successful people from the rest is the capacity to take  action.

But why do we fail in taking action? Even if we initially take action, why do we fail to be persistent in following through over time? If we can find the answer to these questions, our lives will change dramatically.

In an interesting anonymous survey, people were found to prefer to postpone important tasks, even when the opportunity readily presented itself. The most common reasons for not taking action include fear of failure, low self-confidence, and a perceived lack of knowledge of the subject.  All of these manifest themselves as laziness, and we keep postponing things.

Here are some of the suggestions I have found from various sources that can help us get started in becoming action-oriented.

1. We always either overestimate or underestimate the task and the other people involved; most of the time, we overestimate. Keeping people and things in the right perspective is the key to success. This gives us the confidence to initiate action.

2. Lack of knowledge is another reason people postpone taking action. We should recognize the fact that we can never master everything before we start a task. Once we start, the actual learning will occur, in the form of mistakes and new experiences. If we study the most successful people in their respective fields, we will find that the initial steps for them are never easy. Success comes through a learning process over a sustained period of time. Remember that knowledge and confidence grow with time and effort.

3. Most important of all, we must remember to reward ourselves for the small, positive steps we make toward our goal. Whatever our goal may be, it is the culmination of many events. We tend to look at the end goal, and it often seems far off and blurry. This, in turn, deters us from action. Instead, start rewarding yourself for all the tiny actions that you take toward your goal.

Rewards need not be big. Even small things reinforce our positive attitude and help us to take action and to repeat the same positive action. For example, if your goal is to write a book, reward yourself for every page you write with a small cup of your favorite coffee or chocolate or a healthy fruit.

If you want to lose weight, reward yourself with a movie that you enjoy after a week of workouts, or buy yourself a new pair of shoes. Apply this to everything; reward yourself for all the good choices you make. These rewards may be daily casual things, but you should see them in a different light — as rewards for your positive behavior. This is called positive reinforcement in psychology. Using this technique, you will become an action-oriented person in no time.

Reward reinforces action, and that’s the key. Good luck.