Can you say you’ve reached maximum achievement? It’s OK to say “no”. You’re still a good person.  In this “instant gratification” culture, it’s rare to find individuals who are functioning at maximum. Yet, reaching our potential and beyond is dependent upon maximum achievement. What we do at Pici & Pici Inc is help individuals and teams to set goals and reward themselves for once they have been accomplished.   One of the practices we advise clients to embrace is delayed gratification. Unfortunately, our consumeristic society encourages us to buy whatever we want, whenever we want it, on credit if necessary. We get into debt to accumulate things we may not even need. However, those who can apply the principle of delayed gratification and reward to their lives will discover a powerful tool to boost success.

What is a reward?

According to Webster, a reward can be…

Something given or received in return for a deed or service

Positive consequence that happens to someone as a result of worthy behavior

A prize, money, certificate, or medal given for an achievement

In every part of this definition, the common denominator is that rewards are to be given after a task is completed. If you can learn not only to set goals, but also to give them a deadline and attach a reward, you’ll soon unlock new levels of success in your business and in life. Yes, goal-setting is important. But without a deadline, a goal is just a dream. Attaching a deadline AND a reward to a goal can be like igniting rocket fuel that propels you to the next level and maximum achievement. In order for this to work, you have to understand the principle of delayed gratification: the ability to resist the temptation for immediate reward and wait until the task is done. This takes self-discipline, but it is so worth it.

A millionaire’s reward

One day at a conference, I talked to a multimillionaire who makes six figures a month. I asked “How do you determine what you spend your money on?”

He replied, “I never buy anything that’s not attached to an achieved goal. For example, I wanted to buy a new pickup truck. Mind you, I could buy the whole dealership a couple of times over. But unless I hit that goal by a certain date, I wouldn’t let myself buy the truck. It had nothing on earth to do with whether I could afford it.”

For this man to pursue excellence and stay mentally hungry, he always attaches task completion to a reward. If he doesn’t achieve the task, he doesn’t get the prize. For this principle to work, it’s very important that the reward is worthy of the challenge. Conversely, the challenge must be worthy of the reward. Smaller goals can have smaller rewards, but big goals need a large reward that really motivates you. Right now I’m working toward a goal that will result in Dawn and I doing something special. It’s written down, and we’re working toward achieving it. But if we don’t hit the goal, we won’t get the reward. Rewarding non-achievement sabotages the whole principle. For maximum achievement, you must earn your reward.

Excusitis, the enemy of maximum achievement

In our modern world, too many people reward themselves before they finish their work or achieve their goal. David Schwarz’s book The Magic of Thinking Big discusses the phenomenon of “excusitis,” also called “the failure disease.” This form of self-sabotage is characterized by making excuses whenever things don’t go the way you want. It can include excusing yourself for not hitting your goal, and rewarding yourself anyway. For example, people put a vacation on their calendar without attaching it to an goal, and take the trip whether they attain it or not. Or they decide to reward themselves with a great dinner once the project is complete, but then they’ll have the dinner even if they miss the deadline.

Learning to earn your reward

There is nothing wrong with your children watching your struggle. Back in the early 90’s, Dawn and I were about to lose everything. We were deep in medical debt, the house was in foreclosure, and we didn’t have a way out. I was working a hundred hours a week at a job, and we started a part time business. At that point, we involved our kids in the process. They watched us pursue a dream, have disappointments, and struggle financially. We ate lots of beans and rice together, and the kids learned that they couldn’t have every little thing they wanted. My son didn’t like having me cut his hair with dog clippers, and my daughter learned to make things that she wanted, rather than buy them.

Our kids also learned the value of rewards by participating in our journey. For one of our big goals, we attached the reward of a trip to Disney, but only if we could pay cash for it. After we hit the goal and loaded up the car, I’ll never forget what it felt like to watch my kids trembling with excitement in the backseat as we topped that hill and saw the Disney sign. I’ll never forget the satisfaction of laying down those hundred dollar bills for our tickets, while others around me were pulling out their credit cards. The kids had that same satisfaction, because they had been a part of the struggle. Now they were being rewarded for the price they had paid – of not seeing Dad a lot, of being with babysitters, of eating a monotonous diet and foregoing the little pleasures they had wanted.

Now that they’re grown, they understand sacrifice and delayed gratification, which has helped them through their own struggles. They know how to do one of life’s hardest things: to say no to themselves. They can say, “No. I can’t go to the beach this weekend because I have a dream to pursue.” Or “No. I’m not closing the doors at five o’clock because I might have more clients.”

Pay the price for maximum achievement

For every dream, there is a price to be paid. You’ll pay a price to attain maximum achievement. When you pay it, you will feel something that no self-help book will ever give you: that deep satisfaction and fulfillment that only comes from achieving what you set out to do. The rewards you set for yourself are just as important as the goals to which they are attached. If the reward isn’t big enough, or the goal isn’t challenging enough, you’ll feel empty because it was too easy. But when the goal and its reward are substantial, they mean so much more.

What about you? Are you pursuing something challenging that will force you to go the extra mile and reach higher? Think about what you would like to have as a reward. Now set a goal in stone, and put a date on it. Consequences can be negative or positive. If you don’t achieve the goal by that date, the consequence is that you can’t earn your reward. But if you do hit that target, how sweet that prize will be!