I led you astray in my last post when I titled it “I’m Saving Big Bucks!” Although I am really excited about saving more than $4,000 of our family income by not drinking alcohol this year, all that cash is already starting to burn a hole in my pocket. Sure, saving it would be great. But, in keeping a resolution as difficult as this one, I would really like to reward myself. That’s precisely what all the experts say I need to do, in order to increase my chances of success.
For example, a well-received book by Charles Duhigg is all about New Year’s Resolutions and the power of habit. Of course, at the heart of my resolution is to create a new lifelong habit of reduced alcohol consumption. Duhigg places “rewards” as the third most important factor out of 5 for creating new habits like mine.
Additionally, there are dozens of online articles that also stress the link between rewards and resolution success. Among these, I find this Top 10 Tips to New Year’s Resolution Success particularly awesome, because I didn’t do steps 1 through 4. One is to “be realistic”; 2 is to “plan ahead”; 3 is to “outline your plan”; and 4 is to “make a pros and cons list.” I just skipped straight to 5, which is to “talk about it.” That said (no pun intended), the sixth thing on this Top 10 List is to reward yourself. This other article, makes it clear that there are different types of rewards — daily rewards, milestone rewards, and having a large great reward when the resolution is successfully completed.
In terms of daily rewards, I have already found that the routine of herbal tea with my husband in the evening is both very relaxing and enjoyable. And, also that my newfound ability to exercise in the evening (something I couldn’t do when I was drinking wine every night) is a reward both in that it makes me feel healthier and it enables me to sleep later in the morning.
I have decided to roll all the rest of the rewards that I deserve into one really big one. With my budget of over $4,000, I have an opportunity to make it really meaningful and awesome. No, it’s not paying down the mortgage, increasing contributions to my IRA, or finishing the ceiling for our basement re-model. These are all important and practical things that deserve consideration. However, the research says that my reward should be personal to me. I have decided to make it a once in a lifetime experience.
What is my reward? I’m planning an amazing 10-day vacation to Laos.
(photo: courtesy of Phoenix Tours)
There are several great benefits wrapped into this reward. First and foremost, I’ll have a chance to check-in on my step-daughter, Erin, who recently took a leave of absence from her career as a fashion designer and is traveling in Southeast Asia for the next four months. (You can follow her journey here). Being with Erin on a small part of her personal journey should be something both of us will cherish for the rest of our lives. Secondly, I’ve enlisted my old college pal, Angela, to make this trip with me. Ange and I both studied Mandarin and, back in the 90’s, traveled together in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mainland China. What a hoot it’s going to be for us to go to Bangkok and Laos on this trip twenty years later!
I’ll be a full two months into the resolution before we start our journey to Laos. This means that I will be well on my way to creating a new habit. In fact, the experts say that it only takes 28 days. And, I’m sure that the memories and experiences I’ll take back home will continue to reward me for the rest of my resolution journey.
It’s quite a reward, don’t you think?