Reward yourself when you reach your goals, but make it the right reward.

Image: ABC. By Cassie White for the ABC.

You’ve put in the hard yards.

First it was digging deep and finding your why; then you got a handle on the different stages of change; you set specific, meaningful goals — and the emotional work you’ve put in has probably made you feel pretty uncomfortable at times.

In fact, this whole process has probably felt like a tough slog. Now you’ve reached the fun part: rewarding yourself.

But not all rewards are equal, life coach Alex Kingsmill explains.

“There are rewards you enjoy after you’ve achieved your goal, and those you give yourself to reinforce the behaviour along the way to achieving your goal,” she says.

For example, say your goal is to lose 20 kilograms, in large part by doing daily runs. When you achieve that, you treat yourself to a holiday. That’s a fantastic reward, but it doesn’t necessarily encourage more of the behaviour that got you to your goal.

If you’re someone who loves spending time on Instagram or Facebook, you might instead consider extra regular smaller rewards of say, allowing yourself to check social media once you’ve gone for a run each morning. This will more reliably produce a repeat of your desired behaviour.

“Or you’ll download a new album every Sunday after you’ve completed all your training sessions that week,” Kingsmill says.

Make yourself feel great

But of course the essential ingredient in choosing a reward is something that feels, well, rewarding. It needs to resonate with you in a way that makes you feel great.

“It doesn’t need to be extravagant, but it has to be something you don’t usually have time to do, or don’t allow yourself to do,” she says.

“For some people, it’ll be climbing Everest, while for others it’s staying in a hotel for the night to get away from screaming kids.”

The list of ways you can reward yourself is literally endless, but here are some suggestions I’ve heard from people. If you’re struggling for inspiration, hopefully one of their ideas excites you:

  • New clothes and jewellery;
  • Grown-up toys such as DJ equipment, records and software;
  • “Things that make me feel even better” — new make-up, skin-care products or moisturisers;
  • “I have a night in a hotel by myself. One day just for me is amazing. I read a book by the pool, watch documentaries on cable, order overpriced room service and sleep with blackout curtains closed”;
  • A holiday – if you’ve reached a very labour-intensive goal, it’s well deserved;
  • Have a spa day or get a massage;
  • Go to the beach and read a book, then catch up with friends;
  • Get a new tattoo;
  • Go to the theatre or a gold class movie session;
  • Stand-up paddle boarding and a day off work;
  • Enrol in an interesting online course;
  • Take a trip to your “happy place” with your family;
  • Lock yourself in the house, put the phone on silent and have an online TV marathon;
  • Go to a nice restaurant or discover new places;
  • Buy a new pair of runners or a dress;
  • Cook a big meal, pray and be thankful, and celebrate with others.




This post originally appeared on ABC News.