Choose Rewards Wisely: Succeed or Struggle

09 Jun Choose Rewards Wisely: Succeed or Struggle


‘Rewards can be the difference between achieving success and struggling through yet another year in which you talk a big game but never make any real changes. Use your rewards to step on the gas and get moving. (Level Up Your Life by Steve Kamb)

In his book Level Up You Life, Steve Kamb shows us ‘how to unlock adventure and happiness by becoming the hero of our own story’.


Be Your Own Superhero


Video games are addictive and Kamb believes we can apply this same psychology to our personal quests. Imagine being blissfully addicted to your goals.  ‘Zone in, grow, flow.’

Humans are happiest making progress.

Think of the times you’ve lost your way. No zone…no grow…no flow…no forward momentum. There we sit, spinning our wheels, stuck in the mud, treading water, maybe even howling as we sit on a cactus feeling too tired to move.




Stuck. Too tired to move

Stuck. Immobilized. Going Nowhere Fast. 

Then comes the dreaded sense of defeat. Why? Because more than anything, we thrive on finding solutions for our day-to-day circumstances. This makes us feel productive and successful. How? Small improvements release dopamine and once our brains get a hit of that happiness chemical, we crave more.



We like making progress more than reaching the goal. Believe it. It is not that pot of gold at the end of a rainbow that brings us happiness.

The Power of Rewards

Rewards serve a powerful purpose along the way. They motivate us.  Reaching a weight loss goal, nailing a personal best in a race, finishing the first draft of our novel—all of these feel good. Thinking about the


reward supports our intrinsic motivation, spurs us on to victory. It is important to reward ourselves for following through with the healthier or productive behaviour we have set for ourselves. Take time to pause, reflect, and celebrate. Reward yourself. But how?

Immediate or Long-Term Gratification 

Rewards make an enormous difference between achieving success and struggling. The type of reward you choose matters, a lot.

  • ‘I run to eat.’
  • ‘When I finish this workout I’m going

    Rewards Work

    for a burger, fries, and beer.’

Do rewards like this have a place in your quest? I hope not.  This sort of immediate gratification can be extremely detrimental. It sets us back, or the very least keeps us where we are, not moving forward.

(Note to self: Perfect time to reread that Big Purpose you put in writing. Remind yourself of what you want to achieve. Reacquaint yourself with why you are on this quest in the first place.)

Unfortunately the tug of these immediate gratification rewards can be irresistible and hard to ignore. We easily convince ourselves that we deserve a special treat. Kamb advises:

Choose wisely and move forward OR Choose poorly and struggle.

How about these instead?

  • Get yourself those new running shoes you’ve been eyeing
  • Some snazzy gym apparel or an up-to-date outfit for the office might be just the thing
  • Finishing the rough draft of your book’s first chapter likely warrants buying the latest editing software

Like a Video Game

What do all serious gamers want? To get to the next level, and the next and the next. Do they want a fast food or a ‘feet-up-from-now-on’ reward? NO! Nothing excites them more than earning another tool, a better weapon, a new strategy to put into their arsenal before setting out on their next quest (likely to slay a bigger dragon). When you reach your goal you too will need to collect a well-deserved reward. Choose a reward that will add to your arsenal. Reward yourself with something that will be useful (and enjoyable) as you advance to the next level to–Level Up Your Life. Seeing yourself as a superhero might just work when obstacles look invincible. What would Jason Bourne do? What will you do?

Fill Your Treasure Chest 

treasure_chest‘Instead of rewarding ourselves with crap that doesn’t help us in the long run,  reward ourselves with things that contribute meaningfully toward helping us achieve our overarching goals. Call these rewards your ‘treasure chests’. As you’re building your reward system around the quest you’re currently working on, see if there’s a way you can reward yourself with a treasure chest that has lasting impact on or benefit to your game.’

steve_kamb_bookSteve Kamb is a big fan of goal setting and completing ‘missions’, yet he reminds us to take time to appreciate the things we accomplish.

And remember…every day you wake up is a good day to be alive. Second, remember that the experiences we have along the way are the things that give us happiness. Good luck with your Hero’s Journey.

How do you reward yourself? Share your comments and help others with your ideas.

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