Staying Motivated To Reach New Goals
It’s often easy to find motivation when you first start something, but extremely hard to keep it when the stresses of life get in the way. It’s especially hard now to keep the motivation alive when our “normal” lives have been turned upside down.
Below are 2 strategies that I find to be very helpful ways to stay motivated and follow through on your most challenging tasks.
1. Artificial Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is a principle of human behavior that says that a behavior is more likely to happen & will continue to happen, when it’s followed by something enjoyable or rewarding.
Suppose you want to stick to a goal of running two times a week for one month. Each time you accomplish your run, give yourself a small reward-like 15 minutes of reading time, a piece of dark chocolate, or your favorite smoothie or juice from a local juice bar. Each time you complete your run, reward yourself in a small & healthy way.
At the end of the month-think of a larger reward to give yourself for reaching the goal of completing the entire month, like a new outfit for the summer or a pedicure. (Ok, for now that pedicure might have to be done on your own, but you could include a bath & make it extra relaxing!)
I know we usually think of this reward system as something for kids, but you know it works for them-so try it for yourself and see what happens!
2. The Ulysses Pact
This pact is named after the hero of the Trojan war & is a technique for holding yourself accountable to stick with a goal, even when it is hard.
The key in this pact is that we make a choice in the present that binds us to perform an action in the future.
Suppose you want to stick to a plan of making a healthy dinner for your family 5 nights a week. Or, you make a decision to workout with a buddy 3 times each week. You could write your good friend or even your child a series of checks for $20 each and instruct them to cash one of these checks and use the money however they want, if you skip out on meeting for a workout or don’t meet your 5th dinner for your family for that week.
The Ulysses Pact helps you maintain a high level of motivation when things get tough by locking in a future behavior ahead of time.