We all have goals and resolutions that we start on; the problem is persevering until the goal is reached or the resolution is achieved. We get discouraged, we get distracted, we quit, we change direction; all of these are part of life. When you are creating a plan to reach a goal or achieve a resolution, you need to take this into account. Fortunately, we have several mechanisms available to manage this aspect of planning.

Stephen Covey, Napoleon Hill, Jack Canfield, and many others point us to one of the tools to manage this aspect of life: keep the final result in mind. Visualize what you are trying to achieve, and this can give you strength to continue on, to persevere. While this is effective, not all of us have the strength of purpose to work on a long-term result this way. To help in this effort, we have another mechanism, rewards.

What is a Reward?

A reward is different from a result; a reward, while it can be part of the goal or resolution, is not the final desired result. Instead, a reward is something you get for reaching a point along the path. The key is that the reward, typically, is not the final target. It may be totally unrelated to the final topic. A reward is simply something you get along the way. Consider running a marathon. The goal is to reach the finish line. However, along the way, at various points, are tables set up with drinks and other things. Along the way, you could have supporters present to cheer you on, making you feel good simply by being there. Neither the drinks nor the friends are part of the goal, the finish line. But you get them by finishing a particular part of the race. Instead of thinking of the entire race, you can think of each part, going from table to table, from friend to friend.

What are the characteristics of a reward? First, it must be enjoyable on its own. While a reward could be part of the result, it must be usable and rewarding on its own. Consider building a vacation resort. While each part of the resort is part of the whole plan, it can also be enjoyed on its own. Second, the reward cannot be required for the goal or resolution. A person should be able to get the final resort even if they do not receive or keep the reward. If the reward is required for the final result, it is no longer a reward but part of the plan to achieve the result. We can enjoy the individual parts of the plans, but they are not rewards. For example, say you are planning to retire. Part of the plan is to have an annuity to provide some recurring income. Acquiring the annuity may provide you pleasure, but it is not, and can not be, a reward; it is a necessary step.

When should a Reward Occur?

Rewards can occur based on many different factors. The reward could be for finishing a certain part of the overall plan. For example, if your resolution is to clean the house, you could have a reward for each room. The reward could be for a certain amount of effort. Alcoholics Anonymous, for example, gives a medal (reward) for how long you have been in the program. A reward could be based on any number of factors.

The key characteristic of when to get a reward is when it is needed to continue with the plan. While the purpose of the reward is the pleasure, the reason the reward is used is to inspire perseverance. The reward is part of the plan so that we can continue on with the effort of the plan, to inspire us to reach the next phase. Consider a game show. The contestants get prizes and rewards, but always smaller prizes, smaller rewards than what awaits them at the end. In essence, each reward whets the appetite for further rewards. This inspires further effort, which can move us along the path to the final result.

In the End

We create a goal or a resolution to reach the final result, not the stepping stones along the way. However, everybody gets discouraged along the way; everybody, at some point, questions whether the goal is worth the effort, and the more significant the result the more powerful the discouragement can get. Rewards blunt the discouragement by giving us pleasure along the way, lightening the load. For many of us, the final goal is too far away, but the next reward is just around the corner. All we have to do is turn that corner. And most of us can do that.

Author's Bio: 

John Steely has been teaching mathematics, study skills, and habits of success for over 25 years. The material of this article was based upon the Law of Attraction Explained course offered on his website.