You Should Reward Yourself For The Job Done So Far

By Beth Lesile

But far from breeding laziness and entitlement, as is often claimed, rewarding ourselves frequently and liberally helps us learn new skills and develop desirable traits. When we receive a reward, our dopamine neurons fire up, encouraging our brain to repeat the behavior.

Consequently, linking rewards to the completion of a difficult or odorous task helps us master it: this is why we train animals with treats and tell students to place gummy bears at the end of the textbook chapters.


Moreover, praise — especially self-praise — is an example of the sort of positive thought patterns that scientists and life gurus keep claiming will make us happier, healthier and more productive.

So millennials may be on to something. While frequent rewarding undoubtedly can create undesirable patterns (dopamine plays a huge role in addiction, for example), it can also be utilized as a powerful motivator and mood-booster.

Considering how many of us claim to be burnt out by our high-stress, high-stakes world, perhaps we could all do with a few more participation medals.

1. Showing Up

Few of us feel 100 percent confident 100 percent of the time. While we all have individual insecurity triggers, many people particularly dislike big, public events, such as networking conferences or team presentations. But if you find yourself stressing out about your inability to deliver a gilded-tongued elevator pitch to a hundred different people, dial back the pressure by reducing your goal to one, simple thing: showing up.

It sounds facile. But often just stepping into the situation we’re terrified of is the hardest part. Once we’re in it, we usually realize it’s not as bad as anticipated. Moreover, once we’re there we have to act, and this usually kicks our brain into gear in a way that gets us through it.

Because your only requirement was to show up, it doesn’t matter if the rest of the event is an unmitigated disaster — see it as a learning experience which you can improve on the next time around. Because now you’ve mastered just showing up, you can take on a new challenge. Progressing through baby steps isn’t pathetic; it’s a tried-and-tested way to actually conquer your fears.

2. Giving It A go

We all know an overachiever who seems to excel effortlessly at everything they turn their hand to. But in reality, the chances of being good at something you’re trying to do for the first time is close to zilch. This is because it takes time to learn new things; Malcolm Gladwell famously claimed that becoming an expert in anything requires 10,000 hours practice.


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