Should we be "reward setting" instead of "goal setting"?
We’ve all heard the advice: Set achievable, measurable goals. Bonus points for goals that are strategic and time-based. Keep setting and meeting those goals and you’ll get to the finish line. Having a hard time sticking to the plan? Reward yourself along the way as motivation.
But who decides on the reward?
I know the simple answer is “You do.” I’m not sure that’s correct.
I was struggling with my own reward the other day. I, like many people, have to lose some weight. I don’t remember a day of my life when the goal of “lose weight” wasn’t a normal fact of life. Because of this ever-present goal I’ve become an expert at breaking down my strategies for getting the weight off into small bite-sized (no pun intended) chunks. If there was an award for weight loss planning, I’d win every year. I’m also fairly good at putting the plan into action. But staying on plan, that’s been a different story.
In thinking about why “staying on plan” continues to be a different story I’ve started to think about the question “what is the reward?” I’ve realized that I’m not an expert at identifying the reward.
Why? I’ve been following the herd.
There are 100s of articles on the topic of rewards. They’ll suggest manicures or other indulgent activities for hitting your mini goals. They’ll tell you to tape a picture of “that dress” on your refrigerator to remind you of what you’re working towards. Hit the goal and you can buy the dress. Sometimes even buy the dress and work to fit into it. Yes, I too have done that.
But manicures aren’t my thing. I know that even if I can fit into the dress it won’t look like I expected it to. I know this in my bones, so those rewards aren’t my rewards.
Simon Sinek the prolific author of marketing strategies is a fan of emotion too. He tells us to Start with Why when you’re starting something new. A new product, a new company, a new whatever. I think it’s a great question to start with when considering what reward will help you reach your goal.
- Why is this reward important to you?
- What emotions will you feel when you get the reward? Why?
- Can the goal be the reward?
What I've realized when thinking about this concept of "reward setting" on my personal journey is I could apply it to my professional journey too.
So I ask you, what is the reward for your professional goal(s)?
Is it what YOU really want or is it something that others, society, everyone BUT you expects? Are you "following the herd" on your definition of success?