Staying Motivated

Today is Day #18 of my 100 Day Self-Improvement Challenge and I am happy to report that it’s going really well, even better than I expected.

I haven’t been 100% compliant with all of my daily goals (missed maybe 3 total things over the time thus far), but the goal has always been improvement, not perfection.

Even in this short amount of time, I have noticed many positive changes such as:

  • Better sleep
  • More definition in my arms (thank you, push ups)
  • Recalibration of my food intake (truly humbling experience to document – honestly! – my dietary choices)
  • Better food choices (eat this, not that)
  • Genuine happiness via daily connections with different friends

Potential negatives:

  • Occasional enthusiastic proselytizing 
  • Lack of sufficient rest time to recover from exercising. I didn’t adequately calculate for days off in my plan.

Since I’ll be a quarter finished by the end of next week, I also thought it would be prudent to think now about strategies for staying motivated until the end.

Some tips I gathered in my research about ongoing motivation:

  1. Set a concrete goal and work toward it. It could take the form of a specific date or an event, like a race you sign up to complete or a vacation you plan to take. A great example would be getting in shape for a trip in October to hike the Grand Canyon. This would be a date and an event.
  2. Make a commitment. Specifically, a financial one. I am so, so nervous about the marathon I am running in a few weeks, but I went forward with gusto and booked a non-refundable suite at my favorite hotel during race weekend for some pre- and post-race R&R. I can’t let that opportunity go to waste.
  3. Tell people. Openly committing to something gets others excited for you. Having people ask about your progress provides external accountability.
  4. Think about the WOW factor. This could take the form of visualizing how great it would feel to see the Grand Canyon from top to bottom when you reach your goal or perhaps the feeling you’d get if friends who haven’t seen you in a while would be awed by your physical transformation through weight loss and/or exercise. Or how wowed you would be to slide right into smaller jeans in the dressing room.
  5. Build on the power of momentum. Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion. Capitalize on your successes so far. I also find on days that I don’t feel like exercising, I tell myself that I’ll just do 20 minutes. It almost unfailingly turns into double that or more. Showing up is half the battle.
  6. Consider everything an experience builder. Not all workouts are going to be great. Not everything you try will stick. Consider everything an experiment to gain experience, and the more you try, the more you will learn.
  7. Reward yourself. Use smaller awards along the way and a bigger one when you reach a major goal or milestone. The goal itself may be the reward, like a vacation.
  8. Spread the energy! I half-jokingly said that I am prone to compulsive proselytizing these days, but talking about the project ends up motivating ME and keeps my momentum tank full.
  9. Make it fun. My friend S. is an ultra-marathoner and just completed a 100 mile race last weekend. When we’ve run races together in the past, I’ve been amazed to hear her talk about stopping to take photos along the way (she is much, much faster than I am so I hear about it in the aftermath). I usually figure that if I stop, I won’t start again, and my usual strategy is to forge ahead. I envy her ability to enjoy the moment, literally stop at times to smell the roses, and I can guarantee she has a lot more fun during races than I do.
  10. You may not be ready yet, but don’t take yourself out of the game. Change takes commitment. People who study change know that before it’s going to happen, there is a time of contemplation before action. A half-hearted attempt will likely fail. In my own experience, I can say that I’ve had an app to track my food intake for, oh, at least 2 years, but it wasn’t until this project that I started to religiously (and honestly) use it. I’d make small attempts before that were quickly abandoned when I didn’t feel like seeing those two glasses of wine, two slices of pizza, and handfuls of M&Ms staring at me, so I simply didn’t use the tracker. You may not be ready for action right this minute, but surround yourself with the tools you need so that when you reach the tipping point, that app (or those running shoes, or that gym membership) is waiting right there for you. Keep the barriers to change low.

 Keep on keepin’ on, my friends!

 

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