Being an empath, my focus in life naturally falls to others. I do this so much, that when I am on task, polishing off to-do items, that I think nothing of sharing or celebrating my own successes! For instance, last year I finished writing a rough draft of my first fantasy novel. I told no one. I was excited, for sure, but I didn't even stop to celebrate that. I jumped straight into first draft edits and allowed the momentary excitement to pass as I got back into writing. About two weeks later, I began to process what happened and let it incidentally slip out that I had finished my rough draft and that I was excited about that. I wasn't trying to hide it, I simply wasn't focused on my own accomplishments. My friends and family were floored I hadn't said anything at all.
I wanted things to be different this year. I wanted to focus on feeling celebratory. I wanted to consciously count my blessings and successes, I wanted to share with others, and I wanted to more aware having to celebrate. I know all that may sound a little odd, but I am an intense person. I get focused on doing something and I can ignore most distractions, including quitting time, patting myself on the back, and stopping to accept the abundance my work creates.
One of the ways I am choosing to bring more celebration into my life is by using a rewards system that tracks points I build up by doing goal-centered things. Once I accumulate a certain amount of points, I level up (like a facebook game or video game) and get a reward of my choosing (I have of list of things I like, want, or want to do, and a randomizer that will pick the reward for me). There are some apps for android that will help with this kind of tracking, but most are still kind of clunky or not free. I ended up creating an excel file to help me track my progress and points.
If you think you might need a rewards system for your life here's some things to consider. A rewards system can both motivational and an accountability tool. Knowing you have to check in and knowing you will earn something you definitely want or like can get you through the minutia of most tedious daily tasks. Additionally, while nothing can replace some of the spontaneity of celebrating and the right mood striking, a rewards system is certainly a great way to count the small and large things that you can be grateful for or feel accomplishment in. Having something "down on paper" (even if on the computer or in an app) that you check into every day can be something tangible to look forward to!
Update to this post:
I no longer give myself points, but I do count tasks and have an internal rating system for how hard or easy I thought them to be. Giving myself points had been a vital step along the way because it helped me gauge where I was experiencing struggle and fear. I don't include a points system in my book, Dreamcasting, but I do rely on attuning and reattuning to my energy keys, or if you will, Core Desired Feelings.
Over the Fall of 2016, I kept getting the guidance that "this is the reward", meaning this moment, the chance take another breath, the chance to try again or try something new. I resisted this for a long time, as it was afraid it was settling. But it was so far from settling, it isn't funny how I misinterpreted that guidance. Each and every moment is the reward because we have every ability to feel our desired energy keys, to tap into something greater than the task, step, or goal. My idea of Core Desired feelings, ala LaPorte, morphed into Energy Keys. Those states we are seeking are the reward, not in a future moment, but now, right now.
It took me a while to figure how to break things down for myself into bite-sized chunks of work while coming from deep center and embodied in an Energy Key, but often I found that it was not the work that was hard. It was having the clarity around my motivation. Being in an energy key isn't simply picking a word, phrase, or feeling that sounds good. It's about intuiting something, an idea, a concept, that is going to fuel and inform your moment, growth, and Great Work. It might seem like you are faking it, making it up, or even dreaming that those feelings are real....especially if you don't have tangible proof that you can be in that feeling and energy. But trust it, it's Divine Wisdom tapping you on the shoulder. It's clarity trying to inform you about what needs to come through, a different vibe to help you find the answers to your questions.
I don't have to see something magickal to embody and tap into magickal feelings. It's the same thing for feeling romantic, sexy, courageous, or a little wild. Those states and energy already exist in the world around me, even if I am sitting here in my jammies. Open to those feelings, those Energy Keys, in the moment and see what happens!
I don't plan to make these Energy Keys each and every moment, but rather I plan to give myself the space so that I can find what I need to attune to these Energy Keys. Sometimes it takes time to metabolize my feelings or find the thing that will click into place again. But even those moments are guidance, informing me what it means it be (and out) of the energy I am seeking. I plan to open to intuition and guidance and am present to see what happens when I get there, much like how Elizabeth Gilbert (of "Eat, Pray, Love" and "Big Magic" fame) is committed to simply "showing up" each day for her writing and letting her muses come and go as they will.
Here are tips for building your own rewards system:
- I needed both long-term and immediate rewards. It's defeating to the system to only have larger or longer terms goals, like saving up for a vacation or a large purchase, because you have to put off your celebration until you have saved ALL the money, gotten your time off, and gotten the kids wrangled through security with ALL their stuff. Smaller rewards along the way, improve current motivation. But the anticipation for a larger reward is also compelling in the long run. Have both kinds of rewards, small (a special treat, you time, visiting with friends, quitting early) and long-term rewards (vacation, large purchase, using PTO time, etc...)
- Rewards don't have to cost anything! A reward, while totally personal choice, can be easy to get as taking a day off, having a family member agree to cover a chore for you for an evening or week, getting your errands done to have the weekend free and stress-free, or even a bubble bath! What matters here is that you will look forward to doing or getting the reward, indulging in a desired Energy Key in the near now!
- Don’t use food, alcohol, or cigarettes as a reward. Even good-for-you food. It’s just too much of a slippery slope. Don’t even mess with it. (1)
- I think that connecting the reward to the task itself is a nice way to have your hard work and motivation build on itself over time. If you want to have smaller rewards so that they can be given more frequently, then I would either find small "connected" things or just set aside $X after X days of meeting your goal. As an example, here I would have a new piece of fitness clothing or a new essential oil rub for sore muscles for a fitness related goal. (2)
- For things like exercise that can involve getting out of the house, socializing is a motivator. So even having one friend to run with and knowing that he or she would be standing there, waiting for me to show up, was the motivator to get me there. But that didn't change the fact that I really didn't want to exercise. Exercise was the excuse to see my friend and celebrate a little. If my friend couldn't make it, I didn't have the motivation to do go and do by myself. Backup plans save me in this instance. If I can't do something with a friend, I have a backup plan that I actually WANT to do by myself that still furthers the goal. Maybe I like alone hikes through the woods or to go window shopping at the mall while power walking it when I can't meet my friend. (2)
- If there are things that used to be treats that have now become habits, shift "the rules" so that you're not allowed to (buy yourself a coffee shop coffee, get new clothes, splurge a little on a new deck, eat out at your favorite place instead of the cheap place) unless you've levelled up. (2)
- Be honest with yourself. Fudging the numbers mentally, or "borrowing" against the next reward hurts the cause of building a lifetime habit. Remember to keep your focus on building a habit, not just figuring out how to get the reward. When you find yourself tempted, then it's time to rephrase your goal into something you find more meaningful and powerful to you, so that you will naturally want to change the habit you are focusing on. It's also time to explore your Energy Keys again and tap more deeply into your desired emotional states. You be on the precipice of discovering a deeper layer of the block you are trying to untangle. Staying in center with your Energy Keys leaves you feeling fulfilled, not at a deficit or lacking state of mind and heart. If you find yourself lacking, get back into center and feel into where that lack is really coming from! (1)
- Create dates with yourself to review your goals, one review every 6 weeks for minor tweaks to your plan. Create a 12 week or 3 month goal review for measuring and revamp your plan! Smaller spans of goal tracking end up making you feel more motivated and less overwhelmed! Don't let this become a chore, instead make it a celebration or graduation. Review what you learned about your motivations, your habits, and the new tools you found that have helped you thus far. And dream it up a bit, make new plans for new activities, new walking routes, new mindsets to try out to keep things interesting and challenging. In my book, Dreamcasting, I don't wait the whole six weeks. I evaluate the energy of the month, week, and sometimes day, and make plans based on where I find myself with my Energy Keys. Today I am much more focused on the daily practice of embodying my core Energy Keys, because it feels like I am rewarding myself with every action I take!
Here are some creative ideas to keep on track and keep you leveling up!
- Create an actual plaque or trophy. (1)
- Give yourself badges of honor for different levels of accomplishment. (1)
- Create a Trophy Scrapbook, where you keep mementos from your accomplishments. (1)
- Make a grab bag of little prizes. When you reach a significant goal, reach in and get your reward! Perhaps even purchase parts of a larger kit, and use those pieces to overtime give yourself the whole kit, piece by piece. (1)
- Celebrate "100% Days". If you reach 100% of your goals that day, choose two rewards. Give yourself extra rewards or points for have a streak of consecutive 100% days! (1)
- Join a group or get a coach. There may come a time when you plateau in your progress, not for lack of trying, but for lack of putting yourself up to new challenges or being stumped about what new things to try. This is the point where you want to invest a little in yourself and your journey to really nail your goals.