Member Update: Rewards or Celebration?

4 minute read

For the longest time, when I was struggling with focus or motivation, I would plan rewards for myself.

If I worked for 30 minutes without taking my attention away from the task at hand, at the end I would give myself time do a crossword puzzle as a reward.

Or, for bigger projects, I’d plan a night out at the movies if I delivered a little ahead of time and the client was happy with the work.

That kind of thing.

But I’ve recently switched from a reward mindset to a celebration mindset.

The reasons lie in brain science.

The first thing to keep in mind is that I love to write. It’s one of my favorite activities.

But lately, sitting down to write has been harder. I figured there’s a lot of demand on both my time and emotional bandwidth right now, so that was probably the issue. Knowing there are reasons for what I’m experiencing helps me be more patient with myself. But it doesn’t do much to get me motivated.

So, I started paying more attention to articles and videos discussing the topic.

In one, I encountered a 50-year-old study of children. The children in the study all enjoyed drawing. It was something they would dedicate a good portion of their free, unstructured play time to.

The researchers divided the children into three groups — an expected reward group, a surprise reward group, and a no reward group. The children were invited to go into a room and draw for a brief time. Those in the expected reward group were told ahead of time that if they spent the time drawing, they’d be given a reward. The children in the surprise reward group were given a reward but had no advance knowledge about it. And the control group didn’t receive a reward for their drawing time.

It was what happened after this session that researchers were really interested in. And the results changed my way of thinking about rewards.

Over the next few days, the researchers observed the children to see how much time they spent drawing. The children in the expected reward group went from spending 20 percent of their free time drawing to spending only five percent.

In a review of 128 studies across a variety of ages, topics, and populations, the evidence is clear. Expecting a reward (or promising yourself a reward) lowers your intrinsic motivation and reduces the joy in the activity.

That struck a chord.

So for the past couple of weeks, I’ve stopped thinking about rewards. Instead, I remind myself when I sit down to work, that this is the good stuff… this is what I love to do… this is how I help people… this is one of the ways I have fun.

I still take breaks. And I schedule time for the things I was treating as rewards — I enjoy a good crossword puzzle. But I no longer tie the work to a reward. Instead, I view the work as its own reward.

That said, I still celebrate. Although, the celebration is often the simple act of taking a deep breath and appreciating what I accomplished.

A celebration is a different mindset than a reward. A celebration is something you do because you’re happy with a result. That’s different than a reward, which is something you’re trying to earn for yourself.

If you reward yourself after work blocks and find yourself in a similar situation where focus is hard and you’re experiencing a lot of internal resistance, try moving away from a reward mindset and stepping into a celebration mindset. I bet you’ll like the results!

In Case You Missed It…

One of the most valuable assets a business can have is their email list. Growing a list should be an ongoing effort, but too often it’s overlooked in the bigger picture. Other things take priority. And that’s too bad, because once the system is in place, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to consistently grow an email list. You can become a hero to your clients by helping them implement some simple, effective strategies to get their list growing at a steady pace. Michele Peterson shares 10 ideas in her newest Email Marketing column.

If you write content for your clients — articles, blog posts, case studies, white papers, video scripts… the list goes on — a smart way to increase your value and fees is to offer to create social media posts to help get more eyes on what you publish. In her latest Social Media column, Bonnie Fanning shows you how to use AI, along with your own editing skills and eye for good copy, to create high-quality, compelling social media posts in a fraction of the time.

Recently, Reality Blogger Jennifer Ayling updated her website. Over the course of a few weeks, she redid all but one of the pages on her website, restructured her offers, set up the autoresponder confirmation email that goes out when someone books a discovery call with her, drafted a new sales script template for her discovery calls, drafted a new proposal template, finished a lead magnet, and accomplished several other things. In her most recent Reality Blog, she shares the secret behind getting so much done in such a short time… and it’s not AI. Don’t miss this one!

Don’t Forget!

We’ve got a challenge underway that can set you up for bigger success in 2024. Make sure you check out the details… and then do the challenge, turn in your work, and get some feedback!

Around the Web

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Want to get higher open rates on your email messages? OptinMonster has 10 tips, and only one of them has to do with subject lines.

That’s all for now. Have a great weekend, and for all my U.S. readers, I hope you had such a happy Thanksgiving! No matter where you are in the world, I’m grateful for you.