A job well done, in any facet of your life, deserves a reward or recognition. As a teacher, I use positive behavior incentive systems regularly to encourage my students to develop good habits. In fact, educational research suggests that positive behavior incentives yield more consistent results in students than a traditional reprimand.
The New York Times had an article a few years ago that demonstrated this principle among adults in the “real world” called “What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage.” If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. Try it out too – you’d be amazed. In the article, the author is researching how killer whales are trained. As she learns about the positive behavior reinforcement, she begins to think that this could apply in her own life. She brings her little experiment home to try on her unsuspecting husband. She targets his minor habits. In a nutshell, it works. (Really, though, read the story – it is really well presented).
So what does any of this have to do with keepin the pace? Well, everything. If we are looking to develop good habits, or simply encourage ourselves to “keep up the good work,” we need to reward ourselves. There are, of course, many levels of rewards. Rewards can be large or small, tangible or intangible, it’s really up to you. But they really need to be something.
When I reward myself, I like to think of the reward before the task (the old carrot and stick). Ideally, the reward will be one that encourages repeated activity in the successful area. For example, if the goal is to run all of my scheduled runs during the week, the reward may be a new pair of running socks or something. In addition, the scale of the reward should match the scale of the behavior. In that same situation for the scheduled runs were, say, over the course of a month, then the reward may be running duds, or new shoes.
Today I really wanted to remain very positive and focused all day – keep on pushing on from start to finish. I told myself this morning that if I did, I’d take a nice hot bubble bath tonight when I got home. Certainly doesn’t cost anything and will really reward my tired bones from standing and running around all say. Easy, right?
The bottom line is, there needs to be a reward. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t expect anyone else to. I even go so far as to write down my rewards… almost to keep a bank or wish list that I can look to. Rewarding yourself and taking the time to recognize all the great things you do will help you to stay focused and positive in the long run.
So on that note, happy Friday! Be good to yourself this weekend. I’m off to start a nice hot bubble bath