Terry Tillman Offers a Simple, Life-Changing Lesson

It’s a seemingly simple little thing that can have a huge impact on our energy, enjoyment, enthusiasm and results. And, it could be easily missed. I didn’t learn this until later in life. It was so obvious and so simple to implement that I wondered why I didn’t get it sooner. When I did get it, and put it into practice, I received immediate and huge benefits.
During my fifteen years as a type-A, workaholic entrepreneur I didn’t take a vacation longer than an extended weekend – not one holiday. I didn’t get up in the morning enthused about the day, and I didn’t go to bed at night knowing it was a fulfilling, satisfying day. But I was going to someday. After all, isn’t that part of why I was working so hard?
But there was never an end to the work, thus no reward.
If you have ever lacked the energy to start the day, the next step, or the next project; if you have ever been listless, exhausted, had trouble getting going and then procrastinated; if you ever fail to get out of the bed in the morning anticipating a good day; if you ever go to bed at night exhausted and yet feeling that you didn’t really accomplish much: then here’s a simple little thing to do to help change that.
The simple little thing is: acknowledge and reward yourself when you finish a task or project, no matter how small or big the project.

Without this reward and acknowledgment our activities, projects and tasks are incomplete. And a part of our consciousness knows that. Some of our energy is leaking out, unconsciously, knowing there’s more to do in order to complete, and it’s not done yet.

We don’t have all our energy and focus available in the present here and now for whatever, or whomever, we are presently engaged in or with. Thus we miss the joy and power of the moment. We’re not as effective. And the result, inside as well as out, is less than our potential. The journey is the destination, after all. 
Every incompletion reduces our available energy. An amazing way to regain energy, and feel more energetic, is to reduce the number of incompletes in our environment.

One quick way is to just declare some things done: close the book and put it back on the shelf where you can always find it if you want to read it later. You can do this literally and figuratively with any of the other “open books” in your environment. 

If I’m aware and remember, some days I may acknowledge myself several times for seemingly insignificant actions: getting out of bed rather than hitting the snooze button; getting in my run even though it was cold and rainy; doing my meditation even though I have deadlines pressing; eating fresh, healthy, organic food; calling my mother; thanking my wife when I know she didn’t expect it.
The rewards for smaller completions are usually something simple that is a treat to me. It could just be desert, like a gluten-free cookie and coconut milk ice cream, a soak in the tub, a massage, watching a movie, dinner out with friends, seeing a play….
The bigger the project I finish the bigger the reward I give myself. When I finish a week-long business leadership seminar I take my staff to dinner in the nicest or most interesting restaurant we can find in whatever country or city we’re in. When I get home from a business trip of a month or more I’ll take a few days off, often a “busman’s holiday”, going to a relaxing retreat hotel. I like travel and variety in my life. And from no vacations for 15 years I now take at least a month each year, usually more.
Does this work? I found out by doing it. Try it: think about the ways you can pause, acknowledge, and reward yourself. It’s a simple little thing.

Terry Tillman lives on purpose. He is a Scout. In business, people talk about pushing the edge; in Terry’s business, he just goes there. He’s known for going the distance; that showed up in years of running marathons. And he likes to get a high altitude perspective on the issues and opportunities Life offers. He talks about this a lot in the professional and personal development seminars he designs and leads. And in the inspirational talks he gives. It makes sense that he’s also a pilot.

Visit Terry online at 227company.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Facebook Comments


  1. Apr 11, 2011
    6:35 pm

    Sheri Pacitto

    I love this Terry, What a profound learning. Thank you for posting. It’s a great reminder.

  2. Apr 12, 2011
    2:44 pm

    Caroline Sederbaum

    Just today I thought…could my life be ANY better? Maybe, but I have it pretty darn good.

    At the time I was on my motorcycle heading home. I am living 2 blocks from the beach, while my house isn’t directly on the ocean, I can hear it if I stop to listen.

    I am living in a fabulous house with a fabulous roommate, not a lover now, but I am loved and I know it.

    My work is helping people find there inner joy. What could be better than that?

    Contribution and love, I am so grateful to be alive.

    Thank you for being a part of this movie and moving the world forward.

  3. Apr 12, 2011
    4:56 pm

    Laren Bright

    I wanted to respond to this post to say I liked it. Now I’ve done it. This is me acknowledging completion & patting myself on the back :-}

  4. Apr 12, 2011
    5:13 pm

    Toni Emerson

    Simple but so effective! Thanks Terry for a great suggestion. I read it and immediately thought why don’t I too reward myself more? We never thing of it that way for ourselves.
    Great suggestion. Have any more?

  5. Apr 12, 2011
    5:22 pm


    Sometimes my life can feel like an endless list of tasks and I’m going to experiment with really acknowledging every accomplishment I make. Thanks for this insight, great article!

  6. Apr 12, 2011
    5:23 pm

    Brenda Cox

    Excellent, just what I needed to hear today.
    Thank You!

  7. Apr 12, 2011
    5:32 pm

    Jennifer Bacon

    I’m going through a stressful time at work right now. What a perfect reminder to slow down, treat myseld for all that I have accomplished, and close out some of the projects that I haven’t finished.
    This was wonderful, Terry!

  8. Apr 12, 2011
    5:42 pm

    Mark Perry

    Thanks for the reminder, Terry. I know this lesson well, yet lose track of it sometimes. It’s always great to have a familiar “voice of the universe” inviting me back on track.

    Congratulations on your participation with “Discover the Gift.” I look forward to more.

  9. Apr 12, 2011
    6:04 pm

    Barb Crowe

    Terry, I am looking forward to the movie and seeing your smiling face and what you share with all of us. Take care my friend.

  10. Apr 12, 2011
    6:10 pm

    Joe Chapon

    Reading your gift to us is just like talking with you in person. Thanks for the reminder

  11. Apr 12, 2011
    7:16 pm

    Arturo J. Bencosme

    Terry is such marvelous teacher that he manages to convey deep, complex thoughts in a straight forward manner. In this lesson “A simple little thing”, Terry explains a way to experience Joseph Campbell’s archetype “The Hero’s Journey” on a daily, let’s say, continuous basis.

    Rewarding the completion of a project -regardless of its size- is akin to celebrating the completion of one Hero`s Journey. And, as Mr. Campbell said, “A good life is one Hero´s Journey after another…” Thus entering the adventure of a new project, taking it to completion, and owning it and celebrating it through a reward, makes one a hero in everyday’s life! That journey -the project- is now really a full accomplishment and that sets the stage for going into new adventures.

    With much love and appreciation for Terry,

  12. Apr 12, 2011
    7:45 pm

    Peter Felsmann

    Terry, EXCELLENT advice. One of the ways that I acknowledge myself, andreally has worked for me is, in addition to tithing 10% and saving 10% of my income, is to splurge an additional 10% on pampering myself (massages, trips and things like this). This has completely transformed two things: my level of energy to create EVEN more and made money fun.
    Take care Terry, continue scouting the way

  13. Apr 12, 2011
    7:51 pm

    Nataliya Ignatenko

    I hope that understood the meaning of your message. I translated it in Google. The idea is to learn to reward yourself? Terry, perhaps someone to translate your article into Russian? Google does not translate well. Would simply be more people, participate in discussion

  14. Apr 12, 2011
    8:13 pm

    Dr.Ron ALexander

    Terry this is just what the doctor ordered for me to read today. I am smiling and my wish is everyone takes moment now to reward themselves just for reading the blog and enjoying the future joy of doing and not doing. thanks Terry your terrific! ron

  15. Apr 12, 2011
    8:20 pm

    Morning Star Holmes

    Thank you for sharing Terry. My father always told me to “Take time to smell the roses”. I think he meant to celebrate and take time in life, just like your “rewards” with friends and family. I appreciate your comment about finishing the “incompletes” You are right on when you mention the leaking of energy when things are left undone. Thank you for the great reminder.

  16. Apr 12, 2011
    8:44 pm

    Carole Moskovitz

    T – You’ve made a difference in my life in so many ways over the decades. I love that others will come to be touched by your life experiences and teachings. You rock!

  17. Apr 12, 2011
    11:39 pm

    Julie Piatt

    Thank you Terry. I enjoyed your blog post and will yes, reward myself for the smaller things. NIce perspective. Reading this prompted me to your site to view your videos and read about your programs which look amazing. Also, the only other speaker that I was drawn to check out was Niurka. I have never heard of her and I find her very interesting. I see you headlined an event with her in 2010. I have forwarded your info to my husband Rich Roll. Feel like family to me… Congrats and I’ll keep you in my heart.Peace.

  18. Apr 12, 2011
    11:42 pm

    Julie Piatt

    Thank you Terry! Great post… I will reward myself more often..Sound divine..Peace.

  19. Apr 13, 2011
    1:31 am

    Tom Morley

    When my nephew, Hugo, was five he would come running into the front room, slide across it in his socked feet, and exclaim “Well done Hugo!”.

    My wife and I still practice what we learned from him, daily.

    Dawn and I have developed our own way of celebrating mini-achievements. We stand facing each other, two or three feet apart, hold hands, look into each others eyes and jump up and down shouting ‘Hooray, Hooray!”, hair flying.

    This can be witnessed in hotel elevators, after clinching a deal, or at home in the kitchen, after clearing out a cupboard. It’s intuitive now – we just look at each other and say “This is a Hooray moment!”

    It’s spread to our office too. There’s a great feeling of authentic collective abandonment when six people are standing in a circle, jumping up and down like Massai Warriors, shouting ‘Hooray! Hooray!”… abandonment to JOY that is.

    So yes, blog on Mr. Tillman, the Instant Teamwork crew are with you.

    Love from Tom in London.

  20. Apr 13, 2011
    2:57 am

    Brian Nugent

    This is an excellent reminder that we should take time to value ourselves and recognise our efforts. Thanks Terry

  21. Apr 13, 2011
    5:53 am

    Winston Hampton

    Terry, I love this. It is one of those things I can do from now on that supports my greater health and well being and does not actually add another thing “to do” to my, already, busy life.
    Thank you, Winston

  22. Apr 13, 2011
    10:25 am

    erland erickson

    Terry – Good message. Wish we could have had more time to visit at the reunion. Maybe at our 60th.

    Take care – Erland

  23. Apr 13, 2011
    10:58 am

    Martine Vander Stichele, Antwerp, Belgium

    Hello Terry, believe it or not ! in exactly 18 days, I announce the ‘world’ that I stop with my business Quadrige which is truely very succesful. I work all the time (6 days a week, or more); Very soon my priors are good health, hormony between work and life ! I do not know what I shall be doing for a living next year but I know that I will find the perfect balance. Thank you Terry for all what I learnt from you ! L. and L. Martine

  24. Apr 13, 2011
    12:30 pm

    Lyaisen Karimova

    Yes, Terry, you’re right. The simple little things help to feel the inspiration in my life

  25. Apr 13, 2011
    12:39 pm

    Lyaisen Karimova

    Yes, Terry you’re right, the simple little things help to feel the inspiration in my life

  26. Apr 13, 2011
    1:49 pm

    Greg Smith

    Hey Terry, thanks for sharing one of your techniques for keeping on the right heading. I like that I can give myself credit for completing the little things since scads o those odds and ends seem to make up a typical day. As usual your information is insightful and suscinct. Thank you

  27. Apr 13, 2011
    2:25 pm

    Barry DEVINE

    The words are simple and easy to understand, yet so many of us are unable to use their wisdom in our lives. What a shame!

  28. Apr 13, 2011
    2:26 pm

    Yuliya Ruban

    Thank You,Terry!This is a simple and wonderful thing!Today Natalia Ignatenko-my coach in the business advised us this delat.uzhe when one thought,how can i reward yourself,i have increased energy!It can already now be happy!

  29. Apr 13, 2011
    3:06 pm

    Azat Husainov

    Yes, we are accustomed to demand a lot from yourself. and sometimes we did 95% of the work, or even 99% of the work does not get a result. and we criticize yourself for it. although you can praise yourself for the work, then to make it easier to bring it to the end. Thank you, Terry, for that opens our eyes to such simple things!

  30. Apr 13, 2011
    4:02 pm

    Philippe MEUNIER

    Thank you so much Terry for this “simple little thing” ! That’s all I needed today ! I think I’m gonna make a new post-it in my office, in front of my desk, saying something like “Pause / aknowledge / reward yourself”…just like a day-to-day reminder ! (I already have a few others like “Where you look is…” or “Make it easy”…. ;o) )
    I think I really need more self-patting on my back….
    Take care Terry !

  31. Apr 13, 2011
    5:28 pm

    Kathy Neuroth

    Good idea, Terry, and something few of us do. Good luck with this new project!

  32. Apr 13, 2011
    9:08 pm

    Michael Hayes

    Great reminder, great key! Thanks!

  33. Apr 14, 2011
    2:12 am

    Anastasiya Pakileva

    Terry, when we use it – it was so inspiring and gives a lot of energy! Thank you for reminding you that it’s very simple and very important!

  34. Apr 14, 2011
    12:45 pm

    Gulmira Shakanova

    Thank you, Terry! I’m impressed with your message! Today I was sick,didn’t know the way to regain my energy. It’s a really what i needed to hear today.
    You allways have simple good ideas to make people happy!

  35. Apr 14, 2011
    4:08 pm


    Thanks of Teri!!! That you open through personal experience realizing simple very valuable laws (the reason – a consequence) transfer, moreover and explain… It valuably, really very much helps to understand, realize and change in advantage for each person. Shares than that valuable means to GRANT!!! (To give in gift) means to have it, to operate it, to own it…., Huge gratitude of Teri!!!

  36. Apr 14, 2011
    11:58 pm

    Robert Waterman

    As a type B workaholic I can relate. The article focused me on wisdom I knew and wasn’t using. I decided to make a comment to practice completion. The vacation after long work trips is perfect for me. I don’t do that. Thank you.

  37. Apr 15, 2011
    2:57 am

    Richard Farr

    Spot on!!!!!

    You told me many years ago about the importance of completing the cycle of abundence with acknowledgement. I know it well!

    Yet I am tired and listless for too often, just as you explain.

    I know what to do. A very big thank you for the reminder from a friend in London!

  38. Apr 15, 2011
    8:59 am

    WC Wells

    A great reminder that “without the space between the notes music (aka: life) will only be noise”. Thank you.

  39. Apr 15, 2011
    12:53 pm

    Terry Tillman

    Thank you to all of you who took the time to read and comment. I know how busy our days can get and how much pull there can be for our attention.

    This site doesn’t allow me to reply to each comment separately, so please accept this global thank you as appreciation to you individually.

    The pauses are as important as tha action, so now I’m off to meditate…

    “Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” – Apollinaire

  40. Apr 17, 2011
    12:25 am

    Veronique Anne Sandoz

    Thank you Terry, this came as a profound and necessary reminder. Perfect timing, as usual ;-)

  41. Apr 18, 2011
    5:19 pm

    Lars Forsberg

    many years ago I participated in one of Terry’s seminars where he said “Less is more”
    which would be a nice PS to his article. It sure helped me over the years.
    Thanks Terry
    regards Lars

  42. Apr 25, 2011
    12:17 pm

    mark townsend

    Wonderful words Terry. Wise, uplifting and authentic for they were clearly learned through experience. May magic continue to flow through your work and may your work continue to evoke the magic in others.
    Blessings from across the pond,

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