“Any change, even for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.”
~Arnold Bennett~ (Famous Quotes About Change)
We’re only a couple of weeks into the new year, so hopefully motivation isn’t a big issue for most people, but it is an issue that affects us all at some point in the journey. No matter what type of change you are trying to make – lose weight, get organized, be less crazy, anything – motivation will be an issue. In the beginning you need motivation to get going. After that you have to continually renew your motivation to keep going. Even after you reach your goal you usually need motivation to maintain all the hard work you did.
Merriam-Webster’s defines motivation as:
- The act or process of motivating.
- The condition of being motivated.
- A motivating force, stimulus, or influence: incentive, drive.
Motivation is a process, a condition, a force. It’s not a thing you can stick in your pocket & voila you always have it. It is something you have to build & maintain, constantly reviewing & renewing. Maybe you have to keep rediscovering why you wanted to change in the first place, or maybe you keep finding new reasons to want to change; or both. I started with certain reasons to want to change, but as I go along I find new ones & new layers of the deeper reasons behind why I want to change.
What are my motivations? Why do I want to change? What do I get from eating healthy & exercising?
- Lose weight! That’s a big one, but why do I want to lose weight?
- Mental stability . Balanced moods; decrease in number & severity of depressive episodes & increase in HAPPINESS!
- Return to full-time employment without ending up suicidally depressed & hospitalized or self-harming.
- Decreased PCOS symptoms. Losing weight is the best way to fight PCOS & its symptoms (which includes weight gain & difficulty losing weight, among other things I won’t go into here, does that qualify as irony?).
- Increased self-esteem. This isn’t just about weight loss. Mentally I feel like a worthless loser & I would feel just as worthless if I was a size 2 right now. I’ve been going crazy since I was a size 3, & probably even earlier, so I know what I’m talking about.
- A boyfriend. As I have mentioned, I feel like a worthless loser & don’t feel I have anything to offer another person at this time. Being an anxiety riddled hermit makes it hard enough to meet people, much less speak, or even look at, them.
- A baby . Someday, yeah I would like to have kids, though I worry about passing on faulty genes. That might be nice to write about another time. Currently, due to the PCOS, I am unable to have children.
For me, increased energy & self-esteem would go a loooooong way! Both of those can be obtained by a healthy diet & regular physical activity, not just by helping keep my mind & body in balance, but by helping me feel I have taken control back from my emotions & negative thinking. These are the things I want, the things that motivate me to want to improve. I have a written list of what I want out of this year & I have this blog to keep me thinking about it, but even knowing what is I want & where I want to be, it’s still a struggle. What else helps?
Visual reminders of goals work for a lot of people. Pictures of people or things that remind you of your goals are popular & successful for a lot of people. Keep a journal of images that inspire you or make posters, or just hang them where you need a little reminder of your goals.
- Journaling. Similar to what I’m doing here. Constantly re-examining your motivation keeps it clear in your mind & helps you uncover the layers of what you really want & why.
- Keep your tools close at hand & visible. Every time you see them you’ll (hopefully) be inspired. Bonus that having your equipment ready & reachable makes it convenient to work out, whip up a home-cooked meal, or write that novel.
- Get your friends & family involved! A good support system is a wonderful way to stay motivated, because when you start to flag someone is there to cheer you back on track. And a lot of times family is one of your motivating factors.
- Surround yourself with inspiration & information. I subscribe to magazines about my goals, read books & blogs, search out things online, make friends with people with similar issues, keep pictures that represent my goals, buy cute workout clothes & shoes (I just bought a t-shirt saying “You have to believe to receive” in big, red, studded letters), relevant activities (Weight Watchers’ daily tracking & weekly meetings keeps me focused on what I eat & how much I move, plus I’m surrounded by supportive people with similar goals). Even when I’m not on track, there’s always something around to remind me of where I want to be. This helps keep me motivated mentally, even if otherwise I’m not able to stick to my plan. I also belong to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, & regularly attend our monthly local meetings.
- Rewards & consequences . Two sides of the same coin, depending on how you want to swing it. An oldie, but a goody!
- Share in others’ success. I love to read about other people who have lost 100 pounds or more, or anything more than fifty.
- Visualization. Create a strong mental picture of you at your goal & spend some time every day seeing yourself successful. This is used a lot by athletes.
There are a lot of sites out there that will help you with goal setting & motivation. Hot one right now I’ve seen mentioned in a few places is Stickk.com. The biggest draw of this site is the ability to make a commitment, then choose a charity or anti-charity & donation amount, then every week you don’t report a success they charge you & make a donation to the chosen charity. I just set-up an account to see how it all works. Fairly easy set-up, but the minimum donation amount is $5. Not bad if you don’t plan to fail, & really why would you?, but money gets tight around here & I wanted to go with $1. I went the anti-charity route & picked the George W. Bush Presidential Library, so even $1 of my money going to them is bad enough. You also assign someone to be your referee, who gets to verify your reports, & you can enroll friends as supporters. They even give you a personalized link for people to use to sign up. I used it to post on my facebook page to let people know. We’ll see how it all goes over the next twelve weeks.
I’m also test driving Mindbloom.com. Another free site for goal setting & motivation. This is set-up more like a game where you grow a little tree. You choose three areas to focus on & so your tree starts out with three little leaves. You set your goals & work to keep your leaves green by visiting your tree every day & marking things done. Progress also earns you seeds which you can use to buy upgrades & decorative features. You can invite friends & they’ll have trees in your grove. It’s pretty neat. The most motivational thing for me is the daily email to visit me tree & then getting to look over my goals & see how I did each day. So far I’m up to five leaves, three of which are green. I’m going to get those others green I swear! One of them is the exercise leaf, so hopefully my stickk.com commitment will help with that. (The other one is housework…)
Also, for a more visual motivational tool, I’ve used My Virtual Model to create images of me at different weights. Prevention.com used to have a tool where you could do a side-by-side version of this of your current weight & a goal weight, but they don’t seem to anymore.
Those are a few I’ve tried, or am trying. What sites have you tried for motivation? What things have worked for you? Motivation is a very personal thing & we all differ in what works for us. It may take a lot of trial & error, but it’s a key factor to success in meeting any goal you set for yourself.