Monday, March 12, 2012



After another week that didn't net me with the page and word count I'd hope to have, I admit that I was feeling a little bummed last night.  The page count I set was unnaturally high, and I should have known that reaching the goal wouldn't be an easy task.  As it turned out, I have to sometimes learn the hard way.

But shouldn't have felt down, because I did make progress on writing projects.  Word count on blogs written was over 1500 words.  While I didn't reach the 36 pages I'd hoped for during my writing group's bi-weekly Book In A Week, I did manage 19 pages, which isn't half bad. Okay, it's a page over half good, with almost 5500 words.  So why should I feel bad?  After all, I accomplished something.

There's something inherent in far too many of us that we feel that success is only achieved by earning 100% or even more.  I don't know about the rest of you, but I wasn't all that sad with a grad of 98% in school.  And there were times when simply passing a certain test on a subject that gave me headaches to even think about (math) was something to smile about.

The thing is, any forward movement, any words added to word count, pages written, pounds lost, or whatever our goal might be is a good thing and something we should be proud of.  Instead of focusing on the negative (a goal not fully reached), why don't we focus on the positive of having worked toward that goal.

Not only should we feel more positive, but why can't we reward ourselves for progress?  Nothing big, necessarily, just something that will make us smile and acknowledge that, although we may not have done great, we did okay.

Rewarding ourselves for a job well done or a goal achieved or even for simply trying, goes a long way toward motivation.  Even in schools these days, teachers are using rewards to motivate their students.  Stickers, pretty pencils, a star by their names, or points toward a bigger prize encourages many of them to be on their best behavior, turn in their homework, or just have a good day.  There's no reason we can't do something small for ourselves, too.  A yummy strawberry, dripping with chocolate is one idea, or for those who want to add a little spring to the day, a small, inexpensive bouquet of flowers might do.

For several years, I would use a new book by author Susan Elizabeth Phillips as my reward for meeting a deadline.  While I might have purchased the book long before the goal was met, I set it aside to read when I was done.  It was a great incentive, and I might just have to revisit again.  A word of caution:  If you're in the midst of a large goal, reading a new book (or even re-reading an older one) might not be the best idea, unless the reading takes only a day.

If you're a movie fan like I am or have favorite TV shows you hate to miss, making them a part of your reward can be a great motivator.  You finished the chapter you needed to write?  Slip in a DVD, check you local cable company, or use a service like Netflix or Amazon Prime to watch a new movie or an old favorite.  Make it fun by adding popcorn or another snack, then sit back and enjoy.  Daily goals for those who have a special program to watch most days of the week on TV can use those as incentives.

Be creative.  Rewards and incentives are great motivators.  Just be sure to choose appropriate ones.  If you're dieting, a banana split may sound divine when you hit a target weight, but find something more appropriate.  New clothes, even something simple as a scarf, can be a reminder of your achievement each time you wear it or use it.

It's easy to beat ourselves up when we don't perform as well as we'd hoped.  But it doesn't do much good.  Instead, we need to stay positive and celebrate each goal met, no matter now larger or small.

Goals are dreams with deadlines. ~ Diana Scharf Hunt

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