So I went to the UPW 2016 Anthony Robbins seminar in London about a month ago. One of the things I learned there which really blew my mind was how important and beautiful it is to actually reward ourselves after we have achieved something (and I mean even little things, not just big goals once in a while). I’m talking every day. Multiple times a day. I’m talking about making it a habit to reward ourselves!
So what this looked like at the seminar was that after we learned something new (quite intense sessions with a lot of information at a very fast pace) then hey were like: “Okaaaaay. Great. Now let’s put down our workbooks and GET UP!” And then everybody got up, patted themselves on the back and started dancing and celebrating like crazy with music playing! Like there was no tomorrow. Often times without an apparent reason (what reason do we need to feel good anyways?). They said it was to condition our nervous systems to quickly go into a peak state. This and it felt amazing and wole my body and brain up! This is when I realized: That’s how school was supposed to be.
But another reason is to reward ourselves after we have learned something new or achieved something in our day. This makes our brain learn and remember so much better and also very important: we want to do more of what we did before the reward!
So what has happened since I started adopting this new habit?
In the past I might have worked for 2 hours straight without a break. Then when I was finished I immediately went on to the next task. No celebration, no self-reward, no break. This led to me feeling overworked and then being confronted with the next task (already feeling pretty tired! after 2 hours work) resulting in feeling overwhelmed. Then I felt like I was failing (already having forgotten about the success of the previous task).
Now when I get to work and finish a certain segment (and with many tasks I really have to define a segment and plan a little break and reward) I usually get up, dance like crazy or just simply pat myself on the shoulder, do a gesture of „yes“ and focus on feeling proud of myself. I look at what I’ve done and feel a sense of fulfillment! “Aaah.. that’s how success feels!”, says my brain.
Yes sometimes this feels a little artificial (because it’s a new habit I’m building and I didn’t do this regularily in the past).
I feel amazing about myself. I help my brain realize „Hey, we just finished something here! We did a good job. Yes!“. And then my brain goes like: „Okaay. Working and achieving is desirable! We feel good when we do this. Yes!“. This enables me to do more work and to be more productive while having a deeper sense of fulfillment, joy and feeling successful overall. It is really just an entirely different experience of living… I totally recommend giving it a try.
So what actually happens when you reward yourself?
You condition an idea-effort-success cycle. Basically you’re learning how to succeed and finish a task and then feel good for doing it. Plus you get in the habit of doing that new task more and more often! Because what you enjoy usually becomes a habit. Only if the reward at the end is there – and I mean a real, emotionally impactful reward that touches you. Doing something where you really feel successful, like giving yourself a high five, moving a certain way, smiling and getting a big grin on your face. Only if a proper reward ar the end is there then your brain effectively learns that new habit.
So you might have been putting in a lot of work like I used to do and then feel unsuccessful at the end, because you forgot to seperate tasks and celebrate little victories. Or because you forgot to celebrate and reward yourself at all, maybe even moved on to the next task at hand without taking a break like I used to do. Not a good strategy to get more of that productive action or work done in the future, don’t you agree? So why not start getting used to a more successful way of doing things – especially if it feels that good? Easy!
How to do it? How do I reward myself?
It can be a simple gesture or something you say to yourself. Most efficient is if you use multiple channels of communication with yourself.
Gestures (making a fist, putting your hands in the air, doing a victory-sign, pulling your elbow down while making a fist going “yes”, breathing full and strong, jumping up and down, dancing and shaking your bum, making a proud face, putting your hands on your hips and standing tall while nodding at yourself in a confident and self-contented way). Dancing to a song I enjoy (3-5 minutes) works amazingly well for me. Also great as a little break before going back to work feeling rejuvenated.
Facial expressions (big grin, open mouth and open eyes like „wow“, everything you can think of that you enjoy 😉 Experiment!
Voice & language: Tell yourself: “Yes! Well done! Great job”. If you cannot be loud you can also talk or shout “silently” – just act like you’re shouting or talking loudly or even singing but don’t actually use your voice. Yet do push air through your throat. This can also be very effective.
If you’re alone – just go crazy to your own liking… If not you can do it more subtly and it’s still effective as long as you really use your body and try to feel it.
Notice what triggers you to feel proud, happy, rewarded and successful. Then be really good to yourself for a few minutes! It might take some experimentation but it’s totally worth it.
Oookay..feeling weird doing this? (or even thinking about doing this)
Okay I get it.. One might feel a little awkward doing this. So the main reason for that weird feeling in general is because the new behaviour is not yet well-known to our nervous system. To experience this first hand let’s do a little 1-minute-exercise:
Raise both of your hands above your head (without smashing anything), then clasp your fingers together.
Done that?… Keep your hands up!
Now you should notice that one of your thumbs is on top of the other. Notice how it feels in your hands. Now change it up so that the other thumb is on top (you might have to change all finger positions).
Now feel how this feels in contrast to the other hand position. Just notice. Does this feel good? Does it feel better or worse?
Great! Relax your arms again and congratulate yourself for learning something new, or for reinforcing something you already knew.
In case you didn’t enjoy the exercise (come on!!) you at least tried something new. Give yourself a big pat on the shoulder or grin or get up or whatever you feel like giving to yourself as a reward. Try it! Then notice how this feels in your body.
Okay so the point of this exercise is to illustrate that things that are not habitual usually feel weird. So this is reason enough that rewarding yourself and celebrating like crazy over little stuff might feel weird at times. If you keep doing it (and it’s pretty easy to keep doing it because it feels really really good and makes you more productive!) then it will feel comfortable in no time (yay!).
So if you feel like giving it a go and trying it out yourself, so you can see why this stuff makes sense and it’s not just all talk:
Here are the simple steps
1. Pick a task.
2. Finish that task or part of the task until you feel you should take a break and reward yourself for the work already done.
3. Reward yourself and celebrate so that you can actually feel the impact in your body!
4. Notice how you now feel in comparison to before. Is this a behaviour worth adopting?
A little addition: celebrating for “no apparent reason” and getting into a peak state sets free neurochemicals in your body that make your brain tune-up. You feel better and are more engaged with the little tasks and things in your life (and also the big things). This has totally changed the quality of my life. I really recommend dancing if you like it. Even a few minutes of timid dancing can totally change your day (and the day of people you come in contact with!). The more passionate and expressive you dance, the more impact it will have on your nervous system though 😉