beautiful latte in coffee cupRecently, I’ve discovered the joy of completing things for myself. After my accountability partner recommended a book, The Four Tendencies, by Gretchen Rubin, I have been on a mission to create external accountability in my life. What is external accountability? It’s simply making yourself accountable to someone else. Silly, right? I thought so too, but after reading the book and understanding that my true nature is that of being an obliger, my perspective around supporting myself has completely changed!

I have always been one to complete anything and everything that I start, especially in a work environment or for someone else. In January, my focus was on completing things for my business and for me. I discovered that if I did something for me to start my day vs for someone else, ie family, a client or a friend, I felt much better and was super happy to have put me first. As part of putting me first, I agreed to a new set of exercise goals for myself.

Originally I agreed to do my 20 minutes of yoga and stretching every day along with three 20 minute cardio workouts during the week. As the weekend approached, I realized that I was dreading my morning exercise on the weekend and that I really didn’t want to ‘have’ to do something every day. So, I changed my agreement to stretching and yoga 5 days a week instead of 7 and the freedom I needed was there! Then, my accountability partner gently asked if I was going to reward myself. My first reaction was ‘No, this is just what I need to do.’ Yet, after noticing my quick thought and reaction, I knew I needed to reconsider. Anytime we have a quick thought and strong reaction, it’s usually something that we need to take a look at! I spent the day thinking about it and decided that I would reward myself with a coffee at our local coffee shop. The reward was to start Monday morning with coffee at the coffee shop with no computer and no work and no checking my phone. The intent was to honor myself and allow myself time to acknowledge my accomplishment in taking care of myself and not be so quickly focused on having to ‘do’ something.

I completed my exercise and even got my family out to bike with me on Sunday to get my last cardio workout in. As Monday morning approached, I realized that I was not looking forward to my reward. In fact, I was starting to get anxious and not want to take time for me because I felt that I had to get moving on other things that needed done. Hmm… Another reaction. Another moment to look at. I knew I had to go have the coffee whether I wanted to or not. Once I made the decision to go, I then realized that I don’t even like rewarding myself! Well, that’s mostly true. I’m happy to reward myself with a treat when I’m stressed, but I’m not too keen on rewarding myself for my own accomplishments! How silly is that! As I’ve pondered this over coffee, I’ve realized that I need to practice this. Reward and acknowledgement for ourselves when we do amazing things is a form of self-love. As someone who is very focused on taking care of my family and friends, I am now even more aware that I must also take care of me, specifically around acknowledging myself. It’s not that I don’t take time for myself. I do. I meditate and spend time alone every morning to start my day. It is my sanity! The aspect that I’m talking about here is the simple act of acknowledging myself with a small but purposeful reward for an accomplishment! I can only imagine that when I accept and allow this, it will be much easier to do the same with others! As the saying goes, we must start with ourselves before we can act and do differently with others.

Questions to Ponder

  • Do you reward yourself? If so, is it for accomplishments or for escape?
  • How do you reward yourself? What are your favorite ways to reward yourself?
  • How do you reward others?