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101 Ways to Reward Yourself - Why Self-Flagellation is Not the Solution to Procrastination, Mistakes and Even Failure

Updated on May 31, 2012

It happened again. You set a goal but didn't meet it. Maybe you didn't even try.

A hypothetical: You know you need to exercise and you've been planning on starting a regular routine for months. You fully intended to go on that walk after work, but instead you wound up in front of the TV again. Now, that familiar refrain begins playing in your mind: "What's wrong with me?" "I'm such a loser." "Why can't I get it together?"

The thoughts bring with them disappointment that turns to self-loathing, possibly followed by depression and a sense of resignation. "I'll never change. What's the use anyhow?"

The term self-fulfilling prophecy comes to mind. In this dejected frame of mind, is there really much of a chance you'll take that walk tomorrow?

Instead of beating yourself up for failing to meet your goal, why not try a new approach for once? Ask yourself why you didn't do it. Were you tired after work? Were the day's stresses still weighing on you? Were you wanting comfort, and a TV show and bowl of popcorn seemed more comforting than a vigorous walk? Or do you just flat hate to exercise?

None of these reasons, or any other reasons you come up with, are wrong. They just are what they are. You're not a bad person for disliking exercise or letting your job take up your energy even after the workday is done. It may not be the healthiest way to live, but it's not uncommon.

So, what's to be done? How do you break this cycle of self-sabotage? Not by beating yourself up. Give positive reinforcement a try instead.

For example, if it's fatigue from work that's getting in the way of your evening walk, first give yourself a reward for making it through the day. Then, lower the bar as far as the walk goes. If your ideal is to walk 45 minutes five times a week, that's great, but it might be too much at first, especially if you're having a hard time getting started.

Instead, set a goal that will be much easier to achieve. Try walking 10 to 15 minutes, just for today. Then, reward yourself for meeting that goal. Try this for a few days and if it's working, increase the length of the walk, and keep rewarding yourself.

Set manageable goals and then reward yourself for what you've done instead of focusing on what's left to do. If you hate to clean your house, divide the chore into multiple small tasks throughout the week. For example, clean the counter tops in the kitchen, and reward yourself for completing that task. Don't worry about mopping or sweeping the floor for now. Take care of that bit later. Once you do, another reward.

All this rewarding may seem a bit over the top and even silly, but is it really? Not as long as it's helping you achieve goals you've otherwise neglected. What's better, to get the counter tops clean and get a reward in the process, and leave the floor, or to keep the dirty counter tops, along with the dirty floor, and get no reward at all?

Once you get the hang of the reward system play around with it. Save up and cash in for a big reward. For example, meet your walking goals for a solid week or two weeks, and give yourself a bigger reward than you would for one walk: Attending a concert versus listening to a CD, for example.

If you're scratching your head over how to reward yourself for accomplishing goals or completing difficult tasks, here's a lengthy list of ideas.


101 Rewards

1) Read a can't-put-it-down novel.

2) Take a hot bath. Infuse the bathwater with calming lavender oil or any oil that has a pleasing scent and effect.

3) Fly a kite. Seriously. If the weather is right, and there's enough open space and little chance of the kite getting entangled in trees or power lines, go for it. See if you don't feel better.

4) Paint your nails.

5) Get a massage.

6) Visit a pick-your-own farm or orchard and harvest sunflowers, strawberries, apples and other homegrown treats.

7) Watch bloopers and funny videos on You Tube.

8) Create a personal sanctuary - patio, sun room, or a designated room in the home - where you go to relax.

9) Brighten up your home or workspace with fresh flowers.

10) Play with a child.

Enjoy a quick reward by watching this video of news anchors Robert Jordan and Jackie Bange at WGN News in Chicago having fun during a commercial break:

11) Buy yourself a pretty scarf and wear it.

12) Go for a swim. If you really deserve a reward, go swimming in the moonlight.

13) Listen to music that inspires, energizes or relaxes you.

14) Dance, at home to the above-mentioned music, or in a club.

15) Treat yourself to a facial, homemade or at a spa.

16) Wear a scent that pleases you.

17) Do a crossword puzzle or word search.

18) Take a day trip to an interesting and fun attraction in your area, like an aquarium, zoo or theme park.

19) Spend the afternoon getting lost in a bookstore.

20) Shop sales racks for discounted clothes and accessories.

21) Attend a play, concert or other artistic performance.

22) Attend a sporting event.

23) Go for a bike ride.

24) Play a sport.

25) Host a game night and play such oldies but goodies as Pictionary, Twister and Charades with friends.

26) Find a peaceful place to sit and do nothing for a while, soaking up the sun or feeling the gentle breeze.

27) Take a nap.

28) See a movie.

29) Watch the sunrise or sunset.

30) Go for a leisurely walk through nature.


31) Get a manicure and/or pedicure.

32) Go bowling with friends.

33) Play a Wii game.

34) Take part in a flash mob. Be sure to verify the legitamacy of the event and that it's in a safe location and take a friend.

35) Enjoy the blooms at a botanical garden.

36) Engage in a little gardening yourself.

37) Go to a museum.

38) Take a road trip, even if it's just over a long weekend to a destination a few hours away. Explore a new place.

39) Go to the park.

40) Have coffee or tea with a friend.

You Have to Smile While Watching This Flash Mob in Seattle - Imagine Being a Part of It! (Permission to use video granted by producers.)

41) Lie in a hammock.

42) Buy and hang a bird feeder and sit and watch the birds enjoy.

43) Make a smoothie with your favorite ingredients and slowly savor every sip.

44) Listen to a relaxation CD.

45) Have a picnic.

46) Play a musical instrument.

47) Read a magazine.

48) Watch a favorite TV show or rent a whole series on DVD.

49) Sing karaoke.

50) Tell someone, 'I love you,' and mean it. Love is the greatest gift of all. To love is just as rewarding as being loved.

51) Now tell yourself, 'I love you,' and mean it. Or pretend you mean it. Just for a little while, whether it's 30 minutes or a few hours, reject negative thoughts about yourself and practice self-compassion related to what you perceive as shortcomings.

52) Draw or paint.

53) Make pottery or go to a paint your own pottery or ceramics shop.

54) Knit, crochet,cross stitch, embroider or sew.

55) Play pool.

56) Play poker or another card game with friends.Caution: Losing money might not feel very rewarding!

57) Take a yoga class.

58) Do an exercise you enjoy.

59) Meditate.

60) Go rollerskating, rollerblading or ice skating.


61) Volunteer at a local non-profit organization to help those in need. Giving can be very rewarding.

62) Play with a pet.

63) Visit your local dollar store. There are plenty of affordable treats here, from glitter pens to candles to candy. The savings is a reward in and of itself!

64) Take photos of something beautiful, of someone you love, of anything that piques your interest, sparks inspiration or stirs your heart.

65) Give someone an unexpected gift - a bouquet of flowers, a home-cooked meal, an item he or she collects. Genuine gratitude from a loved one is a great reward.

66) Take a riverboat or sailboat ride.

67) Take a mini-vacation. Take one or two days off work and do whatever you need and want to do with your time.

68) Practice creative writing.

69) Work on a craft project that you enjoy. Search Pinterest and other websites that focus on do-it-yourself projects for ideas.

70) Have a worry-free day. When worries and fears about the future threaten your peace of mind, simply take a deep breath and blow out, imagining blowing your worries away to a distant cloud, and turn your attention to the present. Don't worry, you can pick them up again tomorrow!

71) Put together a puzzle.

72) Go camping.

73) Browse an antique or thrift store.

74) Go canoeing, paddle boarding, kayaking or surfing.

75) Eat at your favorite restaurant.

76) Go horseback riding.

77) Play Frisbee.

78) Go star gazing. Often, local astronomy clubs host events that are open to the public. Or, visit a nearby planetarium.

79) Relax in a hot tub/jacuzzi.

80) Have a bonfire, roast marshmellows and tell stories with friends.


81) Take a short break during the workday. Even a ten minute reprieve can be rejuvenating.

82) Call a friend or family member who makes you smile.

83) Surf the web.

84) Sit on a porch swing. Or, swing, period. Adults are allowed to play too!

85) Visit a winery, take a tour and sample the product.

86) Find a rooftop where you can gaze out over the city skyline. (Don't trespass!)

87) Go to a carnival, festival or arts and crafts show.

88) Browse a flea market for treasures.

89) Buy yourself a nice journal to write reflections, emotions, goals, dreams.

90) Go to the beach or lake..

91) Designate a lazy day and do nothing that falls under the heading of work or responsibility all day.

92) Build a fire and enjoy its meditative blaze and comforting warmth.

93) Attend a drag show. This would be the time to pull out the neon pink wig and feather boa!

94) In times of emotional stress, you deserve to cry, hit a pillow, and do whatever you need to honor your feelings. Allow yourself that courtesy. It may not seem like a reward, but aligning with emotions and true self is indeed rewarding, even when it hurts. Ignoring or squelching these feelings can be very damaging.

95) Following the release of emotion, do something comforting for yourself, whether calling someone for support, hugging the pillow you hit earlier, or giving yourself any of the other rewards listed here.

96) Wear something pretty or sexy or unique, something that makes you feel confident.

97) Catch up with friends on Facebook or Twitter or another social media outlet.

98) Accept a compliment. Don't discount it. Accept it and allow yourself to feel good about it, just for a few minutes.

99) Light candles. Candlelight somehow makes an ordinary room seem magical.

100) That thing you've been wanting to do for a while, but keep putting off? Do it. Or start it. "Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectivness. The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

101) Don't delay in pursuing your goals and dreams. Give yourself the reward of living life to the fullest extent possible now. The present is all there is. Don't wait either, until you achieve your goals or complete a task perfectly to allow yourself one of these rewards. "Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it." - Salvador Dali

© 2012 Crystal Tatum


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    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 9 months ago from London, UK

      I enjoyed reading this Hub. Lots of creative ideas.


    • profile image

      Me 24 months ago

      You had an idea on here that helped me alot. I was wondering how I could reward myself but was having trouble because every time I want something I get it anyway. So I was like nothing will really work but then the part about getting someone else a gift was just what I needed! When I reach my goals I will do some wonderful things for the people I care about! Thank you. This was the only list I came across that even mentioned that!

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you Millionaire Tips - that's the idea for sure. I tend to be more motivated by rewards than punishment.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 3 years ago from USA

      This is a great idea to reward yourself instead of punishing yourself for procrastinating. That certainly gives you more motivation to actually do the thing you have been putting off. Great list of rewards you can give yourself for accomplishing your task.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 4 years ago from Georgia

      Glad you liked it DrivingPeace! The news anchor bit has to make you smile, no matter how many times you watch it!

    • DrivingPeace profile image

      Greg Weber 4 years ago from Montana

      OH. MY. GAWD! I am so bookmarking this Hub for future use, and that video of the news anchors is SO going on Facebook right NOW!

      This is most fun I've ever had on HubPages! :-)

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 5 years ago from Georgia

      Awesome Winsome! Flash mobs are the coolest!

    • Winsome profile image

      Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Crystal what a fun list. I feel rewarded just reading it. It's so inspiring I think I'll start a flash mob of one right now. "Don't stop believing..." =:)

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 5 years ago from Georgia

      Great! Thanks so much jellygator! I'll be happy to return the favor. I find that it helps me to reward myself, even when I don't think I deserve it. I definitely have self-defeating tendencies and rewarding myself for making the effort can provide me with needed motivation.

    • jellygator profile image

      jellygator 5 years ago from USA

      What great suggestions! I'm adding a link to this on one of my hubs about self-defeating personality.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 5 years ago from Georgia

      So glad you liked the suggestions, Redberry Sky. I hope you find a beautiful scarf!

    • Redberry Sky profile image

      Redberry Sky 5 years ago

      Love these, going to try some of the suggestions - particularly the 'pamper yourself' ones (I have my eye on a new scarf!). Couldn't do number 42 though, the cats in my garden would have a field day!

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 5 years ago from Georgia

      Richawriter, getting lost in a bookshop is one of my favorites too! I understand the convenience of a cyber-space bookshop, but I really hope the real-world ones stay around for a long time! Where else can you find so much knowledge and entertainment? Thanks for reading!

    • Richawriter profile image

      Richard J ONeill 5 years ago from Bangkok, Thailand


      I agree with Billy. That's a long list and a great one too! I especially like number 19 - Get lost in a bookshop! I also love getting lost in cyber-space bookshops too because there are so many more books right there at the press of a button. Nothing beats real books though.

      Yes, you are right. Beating yourself up time and time again isn't the answer.

      It's great to set big goals and proves you have faith in yourself, however, as you say, one shouldn't go overboard and try to do too much too quickly. I tend to think that way when writing for hubpages.

      Good stuff!

      Peace. Richie

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 5 years ago from Georgia

      Billy, you're sweet. It really wasn't that difficult. Now I just need to practice what I preach and start rewarding myself more often;)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Wow! You thought up 101 things on your own? I was just thinking there is no way I could come up with a list this long and each one a great suggestion. Well done young lady.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 5 years ago from Georgia

      Glad you liked the hub kjrzeek1. Thanks for reading!

    • kjrzeek1 profile image

      kjrzeek1 5 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      Being able to reward yourself is such a big part of having a healthy mind.. Good Hub!

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 5 years ago from Georgia

      Awesome slackermom! Laundry and dishes is a lot! Hope you enjoyed your reward.

    • slackermom profile image

      Lisa Palmer 5 years ago from Attapulgus GA

      Great hub. You have provided many good ideas here. Since I've already done the laundry and dishes today, I might just go ahead and reward myself before I even start on the floor. I was going to wait until I finished it all but why wait. Voted up. Now I'm off to do something for me.