Life’s Rewards

Life is “supposed” to be fun. Or at least rewarding. Or perhaps satisfying. Fun is quite subjective, and in whatever form you enjoy, serves to make life a little better.


I will start by talking about things that are not fun. You might find some of these things fun which in that case, great! These are things that are not so fun for me.



  • Studying
  • Memorizing things
  • Math
  • Filling in excel spreadsheets
  • Budgeting
  • Staying on budget
  • Saying “No” to fun things because they are not in the budget


You might have a lot of other things on that list, that really might not be any fun. You might be dealing with difficult life situations, sickness, disease. These are really not fun and I don’t mean to minimize any of these things. As a physical therapist, I help people deal with major life transitions- sometimes there’s no easy answer. It’s still important to know what your values are, so you can learn to find things that can uplift your spirits and make life a little more bearable.


When I was a student, I did a lot of things that weren’t fun. The work came so hard and fast I didn’t know which way was up. It’s not to say I didn’t have fun- I went out and did fun things, but in general I had to balance it with the responsibilities of grad school. I ended up feeling a little rebellious for lack of fulfillment of my best, most favoritist passion of all, traveling.


Travel is a major passion of mine.


So here’s what I did- I very steadily took out a little extra money each semester for my student loans, with the end goal of going on a round-the-world trip when I graduated. (Disclaimer! This is not the best strategy for someone trying to save as much as possible. This is where I made a decision based on my values. I urge you to go through the worksheet on values if you haven’t already and use your own values to make decisions like these.)


I got a job as a personal trainer, which helped with expenses.


I then found myself spending hours looking up travel blogs, researching travel plans, and generally procrastinating on school work as I dreamed my way out of the reality of assignments, tests and group projects. It was marvelous. I even made some excel spreadsheets to help track my plans- amazing how some not-so-fun activities can become fun when done for planning fun!


What would make your not-so-fun days more bearable?


Use your values* to decide- what is going to be your big reward? Or do you even need one? Maybe you can make do with smaller rewards once a semester. Or a medium-sized reward once a year. What’s on your bucket list?


Are you family-oriented? Perhaps it would be most fulfilling to plan a family reunion. Perhaps you have an interest in cars, sports, or going to DisneyWorld. What is your wildest dream?


Now plan for it. First, what would it take? A plane ticket? Time off work? Getting other people to get time off work and buy a plane ticket? What ever it is, create a list of what it would take. Then attach either a dollar number or an action step next to it. If you need to coordinate with other people, list their names. If it’s a flight, look up fares for the departure city to destination during that time of year. Write down the dates.


Then organize your notes into action steps to be taken first. And start acting.


If you want to fly somewhere, you might be able to benefit from opening a credit card and earning bonus miles. Those miles might also pay for hotels.


Once you know the approximate amount of money you’ll need, open a high-interest savings account and set up a plan to fund this trip.


This is your chance to design your life- if you have a dream, a heart’s desire, it probably won’t just fall into your lap. Start with the dream, create a list of steps it will take to get there, then follow the plan. The time will pass whether you like it or not, and if you have a reward set up that you’ve planned well for, it will be more rewarding than you know, and will set you up for a lifetime of empowering yourself to do more and more.


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