Saturday, December 15, 2007

Material rewards

My brother informed me that if he made a B in Honors Calculus III he was going to buy Super Mario Galaxy for his Wii. He made the B, but then he made B's in two other classes as well. He's not sure whether he's going to get the game since he no longer feels he deserves a reward.

I've toyed with the idea of buying myself something moderately priced and coveted as a reward for a semester well-spent. There were a few very painful months, and I did my best to take my advisor's suggestion of throwing myself into school to soothe heartache. It didn't really help, but it was still good advice. I worked hard even when I felt lousy, and that will do me good in the long run. In the short run, it'd be nice to have some more tangible payoff.

Thanks to the research grant, I've got a sizable amount of money coming in in a month. I'm tempted to set aside some amount, say 1% of the extra pay from the grant, to blow on silly, impractical, meaningless, fun stuff. Some of the rest will go to provide a bit of extra wiggle room in my monthly budget since I probably won't be tutoring next semester, and there'd still be a sizable chunk left for savings. There really isn't a pressing financial reason not to blow a bit of money.

On the other hand, it feels decadent. Isn't hard work supposed to be its own reward? Shouldn't I take more satisfaction in my accomplishments than in having stuff? It sets a bad precedent to allow myself to use the, "You work hard and deserve nice things," line of reasoning.


Ms. MiniDucky said...

I've often been stymied by this as well. Accomplishment should be the reward for hard work, and getting yourself something nice seems to feed the idea that consumerism and materialism are appropriate rewards.

I think that one way to think about it is that getting yourself something reasonably nice that you'll enjoy will refresh your brain, body or emotional state so that you can then continue to work hard. Perhaps that makes more sense than the blanket statement that you work hard, therefore you deserve nice things. After all, it's not that you don't appreciate your accomplishments, it's just that people can't exist on accomplishment alone. You've got to live life, too!

That One Caveman said...

It's kinda like they say you should eat when you're hungry, not when you're starving. If you starve yourself of rewards for too long, your natural sense of entitlement to your gains will get too strong and you'll be tempted to over-spend. At the same time, though, you have to keep your more-frequent rewards small or it will completely offset your other gains. 1% may not seem like much right now, but it's funny how it can add up, too. Only you can decide for yourself what an appropriate reward would be.

Corrin said...

I dont see anything wrong with a little reward for a job well done.

how about instead of buying something you do something? a mani and pedi? a weekend away?