I Want That Gold Star Please

When you want to make something happen, you know what to do. You’ve heard it before. Heck, you’ve actually done it before: “Write down your goal, make a plan, and then just do it.”

I agree. Write down your goal. Make a plan. But “just do it”? Mmmm. With all due respect to Nike’s very effective and cool ad campaign, this version of achieving goals sounds rather mean to me. It’s not any fun either.

There’s no reward, it’s all incumbent on you, and you’re forgetting to harness your best tools.

I’ve talked about some of these issues before – getting some back up (http://beradiantsquared.com/you-dont-have-to-go-it-alone), using your RAS (http://beradiantsquared.com/let-your-ras-focus-on-the-how), using your imagination (http://beradiantsquared.com/lets-make-goal-setting-more-fun), etc.

gold starToday I want to focus on the “no reward” part.

In 2011, I recall a specific discussion during a workshop I facilitated. I had asked the participants to list ways they could reward themselves while working on their goal. One woman spoke up to say that she was having difficulty with the exercise. She was surprised to hear an internal voice (that sounded a lot like her father’s, by the way) telling her that she shouldn’t need a reward – she should just do what she said she would do, pure and simple.

She wanted to know, “What was that all about?”

We discussed it as a group because it turns out that we’d all felt this way before. We agreed that sometimes it’s hard to do what we ought to do when we don’t feel worthy of saying to ourselves, “Good job!”

Besides hearing The Script (in her father’s voice), do you know what was really going on with this woman? I’ll tell you what it was. She was being resistance to self love.

We know that giving incentives to children works. When you got gold stars in kindergarten for writing your letters or numbers correctly, you felt loved, accepted. It’s basic stuff.

Some of us, however, seem to think that our need for love and acceptance changes when we grow up. No, it doesn’t.

Furthermore, by the time we reach adulthood, being conditioned with gold stars (and “no dessert until you eat your vegetables”) makes us want incentives even more than we did as children.

There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s perfectly natural and okay. What’s not okay – what’s actually abnormal – is to think we shouldn’t need a reward once we’ve become adults. And, I think it’s sad when we deny ourselves even this little bit of self love.

Also, if you think about it. Nothing happens in this world that is good and worthy without some gratitude being expressed by someone at some point along the way. Even to figure out what good might come out of suffering requires a dose of appreciation perspective.

You might say, “Well, force does work. You can get others do your bidding by beating them into submission, preying on their fears of acceptance, fear of reprisal , fear of physical or emotional suffering.” And you’d be right. Rewards are not needed to get things done. But you know as well as I do that when you show a little appreciation, you get so much more sustainable cooperation. You get much more productivity. You get much more love.

Here’s what it really boils down to. You need to decide how you prefer to treat yourself.

Here’s the whip, Baby. Now beat yourself bloody until you make it happen… or… Here’s a reward, Sweetheart – keep up the good work.

Um, I want that gold star please.

Angela Loëb is into self-development… learning it, teaching it, and supporting others who do too. More at http://angelaloeb.com

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