Ten years ago, I learned a very valuable lesson. I was working my tail off and had been for a while. My normal day consisted of waking up at 5 a.m., spending an hour or so responding to emails, then writing for an hour. I would then spend a few rushed minutes with my family, workout, and jump to seven hours straight of coaching calls.
After another hour or so of responding to emails and voicemails, I would finally rush home or to one of the children’s sporting events, and then hit the laptop again for some more writing and emailing before getting to bed.
I’m sure many of you can relate to this schedule. In fact, I’m sure there are some who are working even harder. The point of this message is not about making a competition about who is working the hardest, but rather who is working the happiest.
There is an old saying: “Anything unrewarded eventually exits your life.”
Although I was working hard and being financially rewarded, I was wearing down. In my head, I told myself that I was going to follow that rigorous schedule for ten years, and then I would be finished. The problem was, I couldn’t make it ten years without losing something much more valuable—my happiness.
If you are going to work hard, you must reward yourself to avoid burnout and unhappiness. I wrote in my first book, 10-Minute Toughness, unless individuals learn to recognize when they have done something well, discouragement is inevitable.
Life insures that setbacks and failures will come our way, no matter how hard we work to avoid them. In addition, humans have a natural bias toward focusing on and ruminating on the negative or our shortcomings. Unless we make a conscious effort to reward ourselves for what we are doing well, this will not happen naturally. As a result, we are primed for discouragement, burnout, and even unhappiness.
Follow this simple two-step process to get started:
- Decide what to reward: Start by identifying your one most important activity daily as your “what” to reward. I have found that the most successful people are those who consistently get the most importantactivities done each and every day. This may be the same activity daily, or it may change. For example, this may be completing a certain number of prospecting phone calls, or it may be getting 30 minutes of cardio exercise done each day. Whatever you decide, if you can nail your “what” daily, good things will happen.
- Choose the best time-frame: Choose either a daily, weekly, or monthly reward. For example, if you get your “what” done today, you may allow yourself a nice glass of wine after work. If you nail your “what” for a week, you could give yourself permission to take off from work a couple hours early on Friday. Nail your “what” for a month, and you could give yourself a massage or spa day.
Choose whatever reward and time frame that works best for you. Don’t put this off. Your happiness and your productivity are too important.
Do not reward yourself unless you complete the work; however, if you do the work, take the reward, even if you feel that other aspects of your life or productivity are falling short. The best way to make improvements is to promote what is going well. Doing so will be a small but important way of keeping passion and energy high.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are that of the author and not of the publisher and its management.
This article was authored by Dr. Jason Selk LPC, NCC. He is a Mental Toughness Expert, Keynote Speaker, Performance Coach, Author.
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