Self Management and Finding Your Reward System


There’s a chapter in one of my school textbooks titled “Self Management”, and it is always a fun topic to teach in class. Self management – the ability to manage one’s self – is truly the first step in succeeding at anything, whether it be marketing a business, losing 10 pounds or learning to golf. Throughout our lives, others have “managed” us – from our kindergarten teachers up through our bosses (and perhaps even our families!), but managing one’s self is a major step towards maturity – and success!


From preschool through weight loss, much of the time management relies upon a system of rewards – or perhaps the opposite with “punishments”. Such rewards and punishments act to keep us on the straight and narrow, and the best “managers” – from nursery school teachers to regional sales managers – learn quickly what rewards and/or punishments will work best for their charges. Self management therefore begins with determining your own rewards – figuring out what will motivate you to keep going when “the going gets tough”. Whether you would find yourself motivated best by setting up a large goal and reward after completing many tasks or would work better breaking tasks into smaller increments with a small respite/reward attached to each only you can determine. Some people are visual and like to see progress charted in order to keep plodding ahead, while others gauge their progress in other ways.


So, think back to the last thing you accomplished all by yourself (without anyone nagging!), or even something accomplished that did involve another person with an eye for what gets you going, and answer the following questions:


  1. Does seeing a chart with your progress – like gold stars or other labeling – inspire you to continue or stress you out?
    1. Yes – I love seeing my progress – or areas of weakness – and it helps to keep me on track
    2. No way – it is stressful enough trying to succeed at something – I don’t need to see myself as a failure on top of that
  2. If you had something fairly unpleasant to do, would you rather get it done first and enjoy the freedom afterwards, or enjoy first to build up a tolerance to get it done?
  3. Are you best working on large tasks all at once, or smaller tasks broken up, with breaks in between?
  4. Did receiving your report card as a child inspire you to try harder or discourage you from even bothering?
  5. Would you do better on a diet that restricted you to just a few foods – and you would experience a quicker weight loss – or one that allowed most things in moderation but would take longer to see results?
  6. If you were tackling a big cleaning job – like spring cleaning or the garage – would you rather devote a huge chunk of time to the effort all at once, or break various tasks up over a series of days?
  7. Does seeing a picture of an active/fit model spur you on in your self-improvement or dishearten you?
  8. Have you ever purchased yourself a gift for a “job well done”, or would you consider that wasteful?


There are no right or wrong answers here – only learning more about yourself and what motivates you, so that you can work towards your own “self management”. We all have our individual work/rewards styles – here are a few examples:


  • My husband Kieran hates to iron, and isn’t too keen on marking test papers either (he is a high school teachers). So, when he has both unpleasant tasks to accomplish, he breaks them up – like iron one shirt, mark 3 tests, iron one shirt, mark 3 tests (I do believe the ball game is also on in the background!)
  • I have a map in my office with a pushpin and label for each of our clients, so that when I’m having a rough day, I can look up at the wall and remember that I AM a successful business owner (heck, I even enjoy looking on pleasant days!)
  • My mother was inspired to lose weight in order to have a knee replacement – she really wanted her recovery to go as smoothly as possible, and that thought kept her going – and kept the weight off!


So what works for you? Our overall goal is to get motivated to get marketing your business, which no matter how we break it down, will involve consistent effort over a period of time before we make a difference. Will the goal of more business/money keep you going over the long term, or would you rather tackle smaller projects individually, and reward yourself (either visually or tangibly) for a job well done? Figure out what works best for you, and find yourself on the road to self-management . . . and success!