productivity tip: reward yourself when you accomplish a goal

some goals are themselves the reward. making dinner meals on sunday nights for the week is one of those types of goals. doing the work on sunday night pays off during the week when you have food already made.

other goals require a little more indication of success, especially if the goal is less immediately tangible or is a piece of a larger goal. for example, keeping track of all your receipts for a year. the payoff for that might be a stress-free tax filing process, but week to week there’s no feedback.

regardless of which type of goal you’re working towards, setting up rewards for yourself is clutch. it’s especially clutch during the habit formation process.

example: sometime in 2015, my dear ex-roommate, annemarie, and i set out to read more. we did several things push us towards our goals.

first of all, we build a concrete system with specific metrics to track our progress. we both like to work in pomodoros (which we learned to use during the process of writing our masters theses) so we said we’d like to do fifty 25-minute chunks of reading.

second, we set out to work towards the goal together. it created some accountability (which was best for me) and also some competition (which works well for her).

finally, we created rewards for ourselves. we both really wanted new small backpacks for short trips. i can’t remember if she wanted the same kind, but i definitely had my eyes on a fjall raven backpack (i’m really into buying high-quality stuff with lifetime warranties these days ‘cause fuck planned obsolesence). if we hit the goal, we’d each buy ourselves the backpacks.

in the end, we actually moved out before either of us hit our goal, but i’m still working towards my goal. i’m only a few tallies away… maybe because of this post, i’ll finish today.

ps - i made the little chart below (this is a sketch because i can’t find the original) and we each recorded tallies to keep track. it was definitely fun to come home after a day or weekend apart and boast to each other how many tallies we got to write up.