How to Stay Motivated & Achieve Your Goals (Part 2: Rewards!)

6U8A2279We are already into part 2 of our series on how to get yourself motivated and complete all your awesome goals. Hopefully you are feeling much more driven to actually achieve your dreams after Emma shared the motivational trick of list-making that works for her, but if that wasn't a method that speaks to you, it's totally OK! We still have two more methods to share with you, and Sarah is going to guide you through her rewards-based method today. Maybe this will be the one for you! Tips for using rewards to motivate you to achieve goals (click through for more!)Hey guys, Sarah here! I read once that it takes 30 days of doing something consistently to develop a habit. Sometimes even attempting to develop small habits (like cleaning your house for 15 minutes a day, or going for a walk every day) feels like a major lifestyle change. If you're like me, then making a major lifestyle change can be pretty daunting and nearly impossible without a reward system in place! But hang on, it might not even be that easy. Rewards can cover so many things! You might be one of those blessed personality types that just completing your goal is the reward. Oh, bless you very much. Others of you might be motivated by a movie night, a new jacket, or a lovely cheese pizza just for you. But maybe you haven't found a reward system that works. 

I think the real key to setting a motivational plan is to not listen to what other people are putting in place as their rewards, and instead, to ask the person who knows you best (you!) what rewards would motivate you. Here's my basic thought process:

1. What would you like to receive as a gift?

I've tried so many reward systems on myself that I'd given up believing that rewards could work, and then I had a real "duh" moment. Laura and I were talking about gift giving and what gifts we like receiving. I thought pretty hard about it when I realized my favorite gifts are just gift cards! It sounds really dumb, but it's like someone is giving me the gift of guilt-free shopping. I love shopping, but I'm usually shopping for things for the home, or for our daughter (baby girl stuff is impossible to resist. Resistance is completely futile). So, it's a pretty special gift when I get to just shop for myself. 

Oh and here comes the "no doy" moment! What if my reward was just money to spend on myself? 

And then the motivation began flowing through my veins. I sat down and devised a three-month plan to reach my next health goal. I made mini goals along the way, so that with each completed mini goal, I'm accruing for myself a little more shopping money—but I'm not allowing myself to cash out until my three months are complete. Make sense? I've never been more motivated, and I've already completed two of my mini goals! So what would be your favorite (realistic!!) present you could receive right now? 

2. When will you get to collect your reward? 
Are you the type of person who would work longer and harder towards a big long term reward, or do you think you'd like a constant small reward for working hard weekly/daily? Nobody knows you better than yourself! You can try both—I would start with setting a long term goal/reward system, and if you find yourself slipping, you might try rewarding yourself each week to keep up the motivation. :) 

3. How much can you budget for your reward? 

Earlier I stressed the word realistic because, you know, we all would love a whole new wardrobe from Madewell or Anthropologie right? (Just me?) But finding that in our checking account is a whole other story. You might be able to budget $10-20 a week to put towards your big reward, but you might only be able to budget $1-5, or nothing at all! And that is totally fine, because the best things in life are free, correct? Here are a few ideas that I would consider rewards for myself that fall under several different budgets.

-Take a half day off work and go thrifting!
-Have an evening at home alone with Netflix or a good movie/book. (If you're on the introverted side, "time alone" can be a huge reward!)
-Make something you normally wouldn't make, such as cookie dough without eggs so you can just eat it. :) 
-Plan a day trip—find an interesting place in a 2-3 hour radius that you could drive to one weekend, explore, and then come home all in a day.
-Allow yourself 1 hour of guilt-free treats! Get a donut, order a large latte. No judgies.
-If you're a parent, time alone or time with your significant other would be a huge treat. Plan something super special as a reward! 
-Sometimes a new pair of shoes is a great reward.
-If you're on a larger budget (total budget would be accruing over $100-200), then plan how you're going to use that money to redecorate a room, or buy new bedding, or go craigslisting for a new accent chair. Something that's an investment in our living space always feels like such a reward for me.
-Just for once, skip the cheap coffee for your home brew and buy a bag of really great quality coffee. It's the reward that keeps on giving for like a week! 
-Buy a new book—one that you know will be positive and motivational. 
-Plan a movie night, invite friends over, and celebrate reaching your goal together! Or better yet —make it a dessert night and everyone has to bring pie. And please invite me to that one. 🙂
-Is there anything you've been wanting to do for a long time? For instance, I've always wanted to learn screen printing, so a good reward for me would be to take a screen printing class, or a pottery class, or an upholstery class, etc. You can always check your local community colleges for classes you can audit at night. 
-If a long term reward doesn't work as well to motivate you, try a weekly reward for meeting your goals each week! It could be something small like an ice cream during lunch breaks on Fridays, or going to a matinee and getting popcorn every Saturday, or going on a latte run before work one day a week. Clearly, I am driven by food and coffee—but you get the idea.
Tips for using rewards to motivate you to achieve goals (click through for more!)   Tips for using rewards to motivate you to achieve goals (click through for more!)   Guys, setting goals and making them happen is so much harder than it sounds, but I know you can do it! Have friends alongside you that are cheering you on! Even if it's just a goal to keep your house cleaner, or to pay your bills on time every month—it's all worth celebrating if you are making strides to make it happen. And have fun with it! 🙂 xo. Sarah
Credits// Author: Sarah Rhodes, Photography: Sarah Rhodes and Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.
  • This was incredibly helpful, I haven’t thought about using little rewards like that before, and I think that might be more effective! Thank you Sarah!!

  • My problem is I might have ADD. I tend to lose lists or, if it is on a white board (or something similar), I look at it for a day or two and then ignore it because I already know what it says. I’m currently working on this but I want to use these methods to help me stay focused on my goals.

  • Hi Laura! You can find it here: 🙂 -Jacki

  • Oh Cat, I totally agree! I already use food as a reward and it’s not doing me any favors atm! I wonder if we’d ever be able to reward ourselves with a salad or something one day? Haha, no way.

    I LOVE the gift cards as rewards idea. I love getting gift cards as gifts, I already ask for them for my bday and christmas! I can see this working so well with my blog and business goals. *scurries off to implement new goal system*

    Elise //

  • I’m going to save this post because I love it so much! Currently my method is the list-making one, but I think I’m going to start combining with this one you just showed us! I love that you included rewards for someone who is on a budget (like the evening at home alone with a good movie/book) 😀

    ps: You look lovely on those photos! <3 xx
    (and sorry if I wrote anything wrong… English is not my first language!)

  • I ‘m always looking for something, anything, that helps me reaching my goals!! I’m sooooo lazy!! But this system and having money to buy something just for me (I have two little daughters and you are so right… Resist to baby shopping is impossible!!) could be the key! I’ll let you know!

  • I’m so loving this feature! Although Emma’s method totally speaks to me, it’s so much fun to see other methods too. And I always feel like nobody in the blogging world is as hyped up about goals as you guys. And look how much you’ve all accomplished! It’s incredible! Keep on rockin’!

  • I have a terrible time sticking to a house cleaning schedule and once the house gets to be a mess, I just throw my hands up and live in the filth. But I found this app called “ChoreMonster” where you list out the chores you have to get done, give each one a set point value and once you complete it, you earn points that you can then redeem for a reward that you chose for yourself [mine is taking myself on a coffee and reading date] – my almost-four-year-old daughter loves it, too! She’s been so motivated to do her “chores” each day – things like cleaning up her own room, putting away her folded laundry, making sure our cat has food, etc. She’s cashed in her points for special trips to the park, a new doll, video game time with Daddy. It’s pretty rad! Rewards are awesome!

  • Sarah I love reading your posts, your writing voice always sounds just like my own internal monologue! A lovely cheese pizza…. just for me. Keep the posts coming, ya filthy animal! 🙂

  • I need extra motivations for my daily projects because with 1 kid and a baby girl it is imposible to get anything done : (

  • Thank you Natalia – you are totally worth it! L’Oreal was correct! 😉 I love this system, too – I’ll have to give it a try. Milkshakes all around! xo-Sarah

  • I LOVED this post. It’s so positive and fun! You made working for something, fun!

    I usually reward myself with a chocolate milkshake if I’ve had a particularly good day. Out of the blue. Because I’m worth it. *L’Oreal twist*

  • I think she’s talking about
    That’s the one I use!


  • oh man! You are too kind – made my day! Hah but admittedly I only do my hair if I know I’m gonna be in photos. 😉 The rest of my life is ponytails and bobby pins! xo – Sarah

  • Hah! Ivy thank you for sharing that – I love it!! Ready to fight against my inner pig dog! 😉 New life motto! xo-Sarah

  • i think my new goal is to have hair that looks as cute as yours does in this post, sarah. and that would be a reward in and of itself! 😉

  • Oh getting motivated is sooo hard :((
    At the moment i have to learn the whole day for my A-levels, and
    i definitely have to try this out 😉
    In Germany we have a expression for getting motivated
    “den inneren Schweinehund besiegen” in english it means to fight against your
    inner pig-dog , hahaha it makes no sense 😀

  • Aw Stephanie thank you! It’s definitely scary switching sides of the lens. 🙂 xo – Sarah

  • ummm, this is totally genius and right up my alley!

    love, arielle
    a simple elegance

  • Stacia, I love that idea. I’m going to start it straight away. Love the original post too – great ideas. It’s hard to stay motivated when you are a freelancer working on your own with a home and family to take care of too. We deserve rewards for what we achieve. Too often we are last on the list when it comes to rewards and treats. x

  • i love the idea of taking a half day off work and going thrifting. such a great list. thanks, sarah!
    xx nikki

  • Hi Jennifer! You can find it here: 🙂 -Jacki

  • Hi Molly! You can find it here: 🙂 -Jacki

  • Hi Alexis! You can find it here: 🙂 -Jacki

  • Very nice. Would love it if you could also check out my luxury brand giveaway worth £150
    Kisses xo | GIVEAWAY 

  • Thank you for that great post. I’m really happy reading it..I kind of forgot about rewards;)…

    …off topic: where is that huge calendar from? that is the size I need;).

    all the best with your goal setting and rewardsI

  • What a clever idea, Stacia! I am going to try this instead of putting of all the harder things & doing all the fun things first ….

  • Oh, yes. I am motivated by rewards. I just started a new fitness regimen yesterday (turning it slowly on; right now it’s no junk food, mandatory breakfast time (I’m horrible at eating breakfast), and at least ten minutes of exercise every other day) and reading this made me realize that taking $10 a week to either spend now or save for a bigger thrifting trip later is a HUGE motivator. I’d love to have a little bundle of cash to spend however I wanted to spend. It’s a luxury these days to have guilt-free money!
    Thank you for this post, Sarah! I really needed it today to figure out a good way to keep on track with fitness and getting motivated to not fall off the wagon!

    P.S. You are GORGEOUS by the way!


  • So glad I’m not the only one that has to bribe myself with things in order to check off everything on my list! It’s usually snacks or a few hours of binge watching something on Netflix. Who says reward systems are just for kids?!

    Also, side note. I love how your nail polish and lipstick match your shirt. You’re flippin’ adorable!

  • Thanks for this Sarah, I’ve never been good at keeping up with lists, the ticking off just doesn’t thrill me like it does some people, but I think this rewards method could really change the way I motivate myself. Looking forward to part three! Thanks again.

  • Who makes that wall calendar you pictured in the photo? I’m looking for something similar. Thanks!

  • Great post and the colours on your photos just pop off the page!
    I need some motivation at the moment…thank you! x

  • The most useful post we have seen today, thanks a lot!

  • i really hope that the “cheese pizza just for you” comment is a home alone reference. haha.

  • This is not at all a criticism at all of the original poster, but it’s interesting how your post mentioned health goals and we assume it’s about weight. I honestly did too. It’s just the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions health goals. Awesome reminder that health doesn’t always equal weight. Good for you on reaching your goals!

  • I like the idea of rewarding myself for a reached goal. Sometimes, when I have to read long texts for my classes, I put a piece of chocolate on every third or fifth page to help me stay motivated 😉
    But especially after a phase with a lot of work, I like to reward myself with an evening off, watching a movie, meet some friends – and not thinking about classes, exams, houshold tasks etc.

  • Love the post, Sarah!! thank you for sharing all of your ideas. I always have a hard time thinking of a reward system that doesn’t include money or food. I found some good ideas in your list and I think I may incorporate them on my rewards list.
    thank you for the inspiration and motivation.
    p.s. I am fascinated by your complexion- and I absolutely love red hair. You are a stunner 🙂

  • This is actually a pretty good idea and a great way to stay motivated. I actually see no reason why this reward goal setting and list making cannot be used hand in hand to really get stuff done!

    rae of love from berlin

  • It’s really hard to balance all of that without rewards! You know what they say about all work and no play. 😉 -Sarah

  • I have days like that for sure where I know that sweet treats are going to leave me in a world of regret! Haha. 🙂 Shopping is pretty much my go-to reward! Well, that and coffee, but I do drink a ton of coffee regardless. 😉 Thanks for reading Cat! -Sarah

  • I use a reward system, too. Instead of monetary rewards I put all my “to dos” for the day in two columns. One column for fun things and one column for harder things (that can still be fun, just more challenging). I then pair the fun things with the harder things so each time I accomplish a hard thing, I get to do a fun thing. It gets all of my to dos for the day done, and keeps a feeling of work and play.

  • Oh man! Feel free to share what game that is, that sounds awesome! xo-Sarah

  • Hi Sarah! Yes a Target trip is definitely a great motivator for me too! My goals aren’t really weight related, they’re more health related as in eating better to control my asthma and allergies, which are really affected by sugar. (And I LOVE sugar.) But it’s probably along the same lines as it technically is a diet! 🙂 So far seems to be working. Good luck in your goal setting and claiming those rewards! 🙂 xo – Sarah

  • Ohhh Sarah. You are such a natural beauty! The colors of that plaid shirt suit you so well and yeah, you’re just really pretty. Loved this post, too 🙂

  • I love this system! I have a daunting to-do list: freelance projects, running my etsy shop, and trying to keep my place clean, and this seems like the perfect system to use! Thanks for the inspiration, Sarah!


  • That’s such a great motivator!

    IPAD MINI GIVEWAY & Christmas gift guide for him and her

  • I really like the idea of letting the monetary rewards accumulate over time. Target is my weakness, so earning $5 towards a Target shopping spree once I reach a big goal sounds like a great motivator. Plus, I think it’s so easy to focus on weight decreasing (and this can have a negative effect when it’s not happening!) so flipping that expectation around to the Target budget INCREASING is super cool!

    I would love to hear more about your weight loss goals in the future if you ever wanted to share, or check back in with us on how this system worked for you 🙂

  • For me, I try and make sure to not use food goals, because the next thing I know, I’m rewarding myself for a rough day with a batch of brownies (I’m such a glutton)! A bubble bath or a new pair of shoes is a little bit safer in my world, haha.


  • I set a lot of goals but I rarely think about the reward. These are all great ideas. Thanks for sharing.

  • Totally off topic, but I definitely read that last line as “keep your housecleaner,” as if we were a bunch of Emily Gilmores.

  • Not to get totally off topic, but is there going to be a book club in the month of December?

  • We absolutely use the reward system here! And we found this awesome productivity game online that basically is a combo of making lists, getting coins for accomplishing things on your list, and then turning in your coins for rewards. So awesome! We get about 3x as much done every day now that we’re playing for more coins to use on our next reward! Hilarious.

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