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Who is giving you your reward? - part 1 of 2

Pick one of the many skills you have. On a scale of one to ten, how good do you think you are at that specific skill?

Have you ever received feedback on that skill? On a scale of one to ten, how did the others rate you on that specific skill?

What is the gap between your rating and others’?

What does this gap make you think?

Believe it or not, we have been conditioned since our childhood into thinking that for us to feel good, somebody has to say out loud that we have done a good job.

This conditioning happened over years of repetition and with so much repetition, we have unconsciously created the habit of seeking approval from others to validate our perception of how good we are. You know what else about habit? Habit is a cycle that our brain seeks to complete, where a state of non-completion will cause distress.

Scientists have concluded that there are 4 elements in the habit cycle: cue, routine, reward, and craving. Cue is a trigger for the habit, let’s say it is a new million-euro project you are assigned to manage. The routine is all the activities that you are doing to complete your project successfully. The reward is what you get in return for your achievement. It can vary from the verbal appreciation of your success by the executive committee to a promotion, a financial reward like a bonus, or anything in between. Craving is how our brain registers that reward as an emotion. It can be excitement, confidence, fulfillment, or any other feeling you may be associating with that reward. 

This and many other habit cycles are running in your brain every single day as part of your daily life. The more they are repeated, the stronger the cravings and your emotions are getting and the cycle keeps on going.

The upside here is that our brain does its work and saves us lots of energy by being efficient and helps us acting without thinking. When there is a cue, our brain starts the saved habit cycle, and the rest of the cycle happens automatically until we get the reward.

There is a downside, too, and it is when the reward is supposed to be given from external resources, which you do not have control over, and the external sources decide not to give you the reward after your routine, say the successful completion of the million-euro project. When your habit cycle is not complete, you feel disappointment and confusion. You will be disappointed by not getting what you believe you deserve to get. This leads to a lack of motivation and when you will be offered another opportunity of great accomplishment in the future, you will not be willing to take it. You will play it low, lose your interest in your job, which may eventually result in the reversal of your career progression, a burn-out, or a bore-out.

These are some of the possible consequences of building your habit cycles on other people’s rewards. You will be depending on their actions.

The obvious alternative would be to make the conscious decision to build your habit cycles with your own rewards. And how?

To be continued…

Let me know your thoughts on this in the comment section below and share this post with people you believe they will benefit from.

Have a great day!

Ferruh Tumer

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