Children are often congratulated and rewarded for their efforts. Adults also need reinforcement to continue challenging tasks in their best interest. This includes decluttering and organizing tasks.
Envision a baby learning to walk. He stands up, attempts a step, falls, and tries again. His parents cheer him on, even when he falters. This baby is determined to walk, and his parents lovingly give him positive reinforcement as he learns. Eventually, they are all quite excited when he takes those first steps. The parents do not berate him for falling; they continue to encourage him to stand up again.
At some point in our lives, we stop getting excited about our steps in the right direction and instead start focusing on the falls along the way. This focus happens for many logical reasons but is counterproductive. Try a different tactic and congratulate yourself on each decluttering step. If this feels too difficult, start with rewards instead.
Various authors have written about the importance of rewards in establishing habits or reaching goals. The beginning and middle of a decluttering project can feel like a big slog if we hold off on rewards until we reach the final goal. Why not increase motivation throughout the project by giving yourself rewards throughout the process? It will likely result in a dopamine hit that creates a cycle of craving to experience that reward again.
When picking rewards for your efforts, ensure that they:
Here are some non-food rewards to get you started:
What activity do you generally avoid because it feels too decadent? That could be a great reward to put in rotation.
Do you have any unusual or wonderfully successful rewards? Add them to the Comments section below so other readers can also give them a whirl.
Author: Judith Dold
Musings from yours truly about all things organizing.