12 Mar 2012
Different people have different ways of becoming and staying motivated. There is the camp of those that need the benefit of social pressure to encourage adhering to goals. Alternatively, there are those that rely on internal mechanism to push toward such goals. I tend to fall in the latter camp. I have never had a particularly challenging problem with motivation. This may sound obvious, but I happen to believe that the key to staying motivated lies with building strength in willpower.
Motivating to do something good is frequently the corollary of staying motivated to avoid something bad. Weight loss and stop smoking programs are the best examples of avoiding bad things. But things like doing well in school can be thought of in the same way – motivating to study is similar to avoiding watching television or playing minesweeper.
I’m typically best able to stay motivated by being clear about the willpower required to meet the goal. If willpower wasn’t required, there wouldn’t really be any necessary motivation!
A good example is exercise. I’m one of those people that views exercise as a means to an end. I don’t love running, but I do run – typically because it’s very good for me. I feel good at the end of running as doing something good for myself, though the act of running feels like at least a bit of work. Staying motivated is important – and in order to carve out time to exercise, I have to forgo other things that would seemingly be more pleasure inducing. That’s where my willpower comes in. At the end of the day when I have the exercise bag next to me, I internally focus and choose to forgo something like a drink with a friend, in order to exercise.
Another example is healthy eating. I cook a lot for myself, and have to exercise a lot of willpower in order to stay on a healthy eating path. At a restaurant, I’ll have to demonstrate will power to order a healthy option. While cooking for myself, I’ll exercise willpower by using olive oil over butter, less salt than ideal, and eating to be full – not stuffed. Instead of having a full size portion of dessert, I’ll have maybe a couple of bites – demonstrating some willpower.
The good news is that by being such a willpower control freak, I have learned for the anti-negative to be pro-positive. Instead of looking at the small piece of dessert as forgoing dessert, I see it as enjoying a piece (albeit small) of something tasty. Similarly, I look at exercise as health inducing – rather than joy preventing.
Building willpower has allowed me to stay motivated and enjoy meeting my joyful goals.
DanielCheck out my latest posts here