Building in Rewards and Accountability

Building in Rewards and Accountability

Let’s talk about some specific tactics you can use to build your momentum.

Momentum Tactic #1

Build in daily, weekly and monthly rewards.

An effective strategy is to create an incentive system whereby you set targets along the way and reward yourself as you hit each goal. This is a very important tactic because if you hold off too long on rewarding yourself, you may lose faith or burn out before you reach your ultimate objective, the new job.

Your rewards can be monetary, time-based or activity-based. They should be deliberately fun and pleasurable rather than just a break from the work. And they should happen on a daily, weekly and
monthly basis. Some examples include:

  • When I finish these five cover letters, I’ll take a break and read for an hour.
  • After I make these three calls to contacts, I’ll go get a coffee.
  • Every Friday afternoon I’ll take a break from the search and go to the beach.

Momentum Tactic #2

Set up formal accountability measures.

The flip side of rewarding yourself is holding yourself accountable for achieving your goals. This tactic helps you overcome the difficulty of pushing yourself to take action, especially on something you don’t like to do.

Ways of holding yourself accountable can include setting daily goals and asking a trusted friend to check in with you to see how you’ve done, e-mailing your reinvention group with a weekly status update, hiring a coach … or all three! The key to accountability is that it works best when you arrange something outside of yourself. By setting up ways to hold yourself accountable, you’ll find that you make more consistent progress over time.

Momentum Tactic #3

Set up your tracking system.

You will need to create a system to manage the details of your career reinvention. As you launch yourself you’ll be introduced to new contacts, come across organizations you’d like to investigate, or hear intriguing ideas you’d like to explore. If you don’t have a way to track all these details, you may get overwhelmed!

Your system doesn’t have to be complicated—in fact the easier, the better! Some people prefer to establish an electronic tracking system; others write everything in a notebook or keep things in a folder. The idea is to create a “home” for all your career reinvention information.

Momentum Tactic #4

Do one thing every week that challenges you.

The one essential truth of reinventing your career is that the life you want to live lies just outside your comfort zone. This means that in order to achieve your goals you have to be willing to go beyond your usual methods and take actions that may make you uncomfortable.

To overcome a natural reluctance to push yourself, commit to taking one action each week that challenges you. This challenge may take the form of making a phone call to a new contact, asking people to become a part of your reinvention team, or writing a pitch letter to your “dream” company. Doing one thing each week that challenges you pushes you to do, be and have more.

And the more you get used to going beyond your boundaries, the more opportunities open up to you!


Take action every day.

Many people often talk about the actions they intend to take, mistaking the talking
itself for action. Here is the thing to understand: TALKING IS NOT ACTION—DOING IS
ACTION! So how do you add action to your already hectic schedule? Here are some

1. Make it manageable: Break it into 15-minute increments (e.g., “I will spend 15 minutes surfing job-board sites”). If it’s something you don’t particularly like doing but must (such as drafting a cover letter), use a timer and give yourself permission to quit when it goes off. Where can you find 15 minutes? Turn off that Law & Order rerun early—you already know how it ends! Tell your friend you can’t talk for too long because you have something to do. Decide that you’re only going to surf your favorite blogs for 30 minutes. Search out other time stealers in your day and cut back.
2. Make it consistent: Small steps taken on a regular basis are better than overloading yourself. You may feel ambitious, but if you put too much pressure on yourself you can burn out. For example, don’t try to rewrite your résumé in one 15-minute period!
3. Make it realistic: Don’t tackle the “big picture” every day (e.g., “I’ll get a job”)— you’ll feel overwhelmed. Instead, pace yourself. Setting your sights on smaller tasks (“I’ll respond to this job posting”), will increase your chances of accomplishing them. And each one counts!
4. Make it possible: Keep your tools handy; don’t sabotage yourself by making it difficult to complete a task.
5. Make it fun: Find a way to do your tasks in a way that you enjoy, or give yourself a reward for each accomplishment. Positive reinforcement always works!
6. Make it optional: If the pressure is killing your initiative, give yourself an “out-clause.” For example, decide you will take action toward your target career for a month, and then revisit whether you want to continue.

Coaching Action Steps

Step 1: Take a moment to brainstorm how you plan to reward yourself during your
reinvention launch and what milestones you must hit to earn the rewards.

Step 2: Take a moment to come up with some ways to hold yourself accountable.

Step 3. Take a moment to decide what actions you plan to take to get things going.