We are a culture of water bugs. We zip across life’s surface, zooming here and there, navigating the turns, and trying not to stop for fear of sinking. And all this zipping and zooming is supposed to make us feel good; we’re busy, we’re getting things done, and everyone tells us this is it – this go-go-go pace is the thing to do. Congratulations, you’re “successful,” you’re keeping up, you’re an achiever, you’re doing it “right.”
The issue is, many of us don’t feel like we’re doing it right. We feel worn down, burn out, and discouraged because even though we’re doing all the “right” things (according to everyone else), those things are leaving us empty inside. On the outside, there’s money, a better title, and the ability to have nicer things, but on the inside we’re lost and feel separated, from others, and most of all, from ourselves. This is why it’s so important as water bugs to not fear the sinking; sinking on purpose allows us to take a break from our zip and zoom patterns and experience the intrinsic rewards which can help us get back in touch with feelings of contentment, satisfaction, and connection.
Intrinsic rewards cannot be seen or touched, but are the feelings of contentment you get when you do something
By shifting your perspective from focusing on extrinsic rewards to intrinsic rewards you notice little things such as how you feel when:
• you take a few extra minutes to comfort a friend
• you’re genuinely complimented by a colleague
• you simply connect with what you’re doing because it aligns with your values
Intrinsic rewards are also one of the only things in your life and career that you can control. While others get to decide how much your bonus may be or whether or not to give you a certain title, they don’t get to decide how awesome and supremely satisfied you feel about what you’re doing with your time and energy.
So the next time you’re feeling worn out by your daily trip around the pond, coast on over to the side and allow yourself to sink into a comfortable place where you can think about all the intrinsic rewards you’ve received that day. Ask the following to get started:
• What is the most intrinsically rewarding part of your job?
• What feelings do you associate with the most rewarding part of your job?
• How can you seek out more situations that allow you to experience those feelings at work and at home?
• How can you let intrinsic rewards guide you in making better decisions around how you spend your time and energy?
• How can you integrate the concept of intrinsic rewards into your definition of success?