“The reward of a work is to have produced it; the reward of effort is to have grown by it.”
~ Antonin Sertillanges, The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods
“To celebrate the production of the work and the personal growth created by the effort is a wonderful thing. Stopping to mark a personal achievement can be a defining and cherished moment, and yet it is a moment so often wasted in our hurry to get to the next goal.” ~ Nicole Cody
Many of my clients are high achievers. But many of them have something in common which makes me feel quite sad:
They never stop to celebrate their achievements!
I don’t just encourage celebrating when you achieve a goal. I actively encourage you to choose a future reward as you are starting out – something that you will gift yourself in return for completing that goal – so that the way you celebrate your achievement also becomes a motivating force to help you get there.
Sometimes, having a reason to do something helps you to actually get that thing done.
Celebration creates an attitude of gratitude and puts your awareness on what is good in your life.
Choosing an event or reward for the completion of some activity into the future acts like dangling a delicious carrot in front of you. It will help keep you motivated on the hard days and the dark days.
Completing the event or reaching the milestone and then celebrating with your chosen reward reinforces the behaviour of striving and working consistently toward your goal. And of course, the act of reward or celebration helps you to sit and absorb the moment. It allows you to acknowledge to yourself ‘Hey, I did that!’.
Think about what’s happening in your life right now. Is there anything you’re working towards? How are you going to reward yourself when you get there?
It might be something you need to get done today. Maybe you’ll treat yourself to a walk in the park, or a coffee at your favourite cafe afterward.
Maybe it’s something bigger. Completing study. Retiring. Achieving a fitness or health goal. Paying off the house or credit card. Finishing a book you’ve been writing. Holding an exhibition. Finishing chemotherapy. Getting five years of bookwork and taxes up to date. The kids finally leaving home.
Perhaps it’s time to start something.
No matter, what it is, and whether the idea or project is in its infancy, or whether you’re midway there, think about how you could celebrate the completion point. Choose something that excites you.
At my encouragement, a friend of mine recently celebrated completing her PhD with a trip to Venice. When she committed to her PhD Carol was only part way through an undergraduate degree which she was doing at night by correspondence while she cleaned houses for a living to support her children. The whole time she was studying Carol squirreled spare cash away, had garage sales and sold things on ebay to add to the money that would pay for her trip. Most of Carol’s money went on rent and looking after the kids. Her Venice fund was a jar of dollar coins and silver. But it was her dream too. So she kept feeding that dream. Venice and doctorate went hand in hand after a while, and all her family and friends knew about her plans. Many of us gifted her funds towards the trip at her graduations.
Achieving the PhD was a huge thing for Carol. She was the first of her family to finish school, or to go on to university. She studied after her marriage broke up, and while she raised three kids as a single mum. By the time she was doing her PhD her kids were at university too.
She sent me a beautiful email from Venice. Here’s some of what she said, below:
“For the first time in my life I am acknowledging what an enormous effort all of this has been. Because, you know, at the start, part of me thought that achieving my PhD and going in Venice was some kind of fantasy, the sort of thing that only happened to other people, and not to Carol from Woodridge.
As I toured the canals in my Gondola today, I realised how far I’d come, and how many sacrifices I have made, this housewife from Australia who now has a doctorate and a future. Nic, this is also the first time I have ever done anything for me. Until now, it’s all been for my kids, and I wouldn’t change any of that, none at all. But to sit here, in Venice, drinking wine and eating pasta, filling myself up with the beauty and the history, well, it makes me realise that I matter too. My life and my dreams matter as much as my children’s. I am proud that I am also finally taking care of me. I’ve changed my own life.”
How about you? What goal can you work towards? What reward can you choose for yourself? Maybe it will change your life too.
PS: I’ll share my crazy dream and reward with you. I’ve decided to walk the Camino with my husband in 2016, after recovering from Lyme disease and finally reclaiming my health. I intend to walk 800km, drink wine with my meals, be in my body and celebrate living! The walk will be my reward for wellness. Right now, as a girl who has spent the last four years mostly bed ridden, it is indeed a crazy dream. To be well. To walk so far. But hey, what a great reward. I already have money in a tin – the beginning of my savings – and a guidebook!