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. Self-management – the ability to manage oneself – 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 oneself is a major step towards maturity – and success!

From preschool through weight loss, much of our time management relies upon a system of rewards and “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.” Do you find yourself motivated best by setting up a large goal and reward after completing many tasks, do you work better breaking tasks into smaller increments with smaller rewards attached to each? Some people are visual and like to see progress charted in order to keep plodding ahead, while others have no such need.

So, think back to the last thing you accomplished all by yourself (without anyone nagging!), or even something 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 – it helps to keep me on track
    1. No way – it is stressful enough trying to succeed – 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. Does seeing a picture of a fit model spur you on in your self-improvement or dishearten you?
  7. 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 – for myself, I put a map in my office with a label for each of my clients, so that when I’m having a rough day, I can look up and remember that I AM a successful business owner (heck, I even enjoy looking on pleasant days!)

So what works for you? Your overall goal is to get motivated to market your business which, no matter how we break it down, will involve consistent effort over a period of time before you make a difference. Figure out what works best for you, and find yourself on the road to self-management . . . and success!

Stephanie Larkin
About Stephanie Larkin 5 Articles
Stephanie Larkin is the founder and president of Red Penguin Books and Web Solutions, a book and web publication company for over a decade. She is the author of Write That Book!, 365 Reasons to Celebrate! and SCORE with Social Media. Stephanie is the host of television’s Technically Speaking, an award-winning educational cable TV series airing in Queens and Long Island, as well as Between the Covers - the show for readers, and writers, and lovers of books, and a third show—The Author Corner—will be premiering on Verizon and Optimum this fall. Stephanie teaches marketing at Nassau Community College and NY Institute of Technology.