Carrot on a StickThe best companies to work for see their employees as the truly important assets they are and take care of them accordingly. Such care tends to include generous benefits like paid holidays and vacation, on-site day care or exercise facilities, a break room stocked with great snacks, transit passes, profit sharing or annual bonuses, etc. – not to mention sick leave and health insurance.

That care also includes rewards for performance when goals are met or exceeded, innovations in work-flow or the company’s services or products, securing new clients or increasing business in some way, and so forth.

As your own boss and HR department, what is the benefits package and incentive program you offer yourself? How do you take care of yourself and how do you reward your own best work? Do you have systems in place to provide for your health and work/life balance? And do you have systems in place to acknowledge your successes?

In other words, do you set goals with measurable outcomes so you know when to reward yourself? And do you know what those rewards are?

Lately, like a horse pulling a cart, I’ve been using such carrots to keeping me moving forward – especially when shifting a pattern of behavior or finishing tasks that are necessary but less enjoyable. And I find the rewards don’t have to be huge to be effective – a 99-cent iTunes song turns out to be pretty motivating. But, of course, bigger accomplishments deserve bigger rewards (wouldn’t you feel shortchanged by a boss that gave you an MP3 for developing a new service or landing a big client?). Sticking with my exercise regimen for a full month garners a massage, cleaning up the last of my piles earns tickets to a concert, developing new workshops wins a weekend getaway, etc. The idea is not to reward yourself beyond your financial means, but your carrots do need to be something of an indulgence to be effective (maybe carrot cake would be a better metaphor!). [side note: In my opinion, benefits and incentives should be among the expenses you account for in determining your fees – they are a legit and necessary portion of your overhead.]

As self-employed business owners, we tend to focus so much on what isn’t done (yet), that it’s very easy to overlook what we’ve accomplished. So review your goals or to-do list, determine a few measurable outcomes (if I do this consistently, if I finish that by then), and decide how you’d like to honor yourself for meeting them.

Be your own best boss. Take care of yourself by creating incentives, acknowledging your achievements and rewarding them.


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Third Hand Works

from overwhelmed to ready for anything | organization and time management for people in their "right" minds | administrative guidance for independent creative professionals [more info]



© 2008 Cairene MacDonald, Third Hand Works. All Rights Reserved.

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