The ultimate reward, that takes up most of our imagination during job search, is a job. Returning to the workforce and making a contribution – and, of course, receiving compensation for the efforts we put in. Hurrah, strike up the band when we achieve this reward. But what about in the meantime?
Perhaps there are those whose personality types allow for incremental reward systems (of course there are those who allow too much latitude for reward) but many in this situation seem to feel that no reward is permissible until the ultimate goal is reached. Let’s think about that for a minute.
There are sayings about the punishment fitting the crime, but we don’t have much to go on regarding right-sizing a reward to any gain. Years ago when I was first promoted to Manager, a coworker suggested that I reward myself. I needed a new watch, so I bought one and she promptly told me that was not a reward because I didn’t spend much plus I needed a watch. Hmmm, to me this was a treat because I would have made do with the watch that I had that was losing time and was scratched. I paid a sensible amount for the watch, on sale, but I hadn’t budgeted for it.
Rewards mean very different things to different people, I know this but it is something that I often forget. (As a manager, one should keep this closer to mind – how do your direct reports define a reward or a treat?) What deserves a reward? What is an appropriate reward for a small, medium or large achievement?
My mom related a story about my grandma during an impressionable time of my teen years so it has stuck with me all this time. My grandma got married and was raising children during the depression so money was hard to come by and very dear. But grandma believed in the value of self-rewarding. She taught my mom that it could be something as small as a lipstick – just enough to have something to look forward to, to perk up your day, but a rare occasion so that it is meaningful.
Back to you and your job search – plenty of the aspects of the search are grueling, you don’t want to make it more so by withholding all treats until you are employed again. Clearly balancing the cost of a reward against your resources is in order, and prudent. But I imagine that there is some little something that could bring a smile and ease your day when you have a small triumph.
This will also help you to recognize your small triumphs on the way to that ultimate reward.
Beth Anne Reed has a background in Customer Relations, Process & Project Management and a deep interest in Written Communications.
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