Every single day we choose how we spend what few hours we have. Yet, despite the constant warnings to chase after what we believe, we often fall victim to procrastination and a fear of even just starting.
For myself, and the 95% of the American population who admit to falling prey to procrastination or even total avoidance of the things we want to do in our lives, ‘time management’ only goes so far. And when it comes to looking at why we fail to start, there are larger emotional and psychological reasons at play.
I’m convinced that creating goals or resolutions is hardwired into us, because we can’t stop making them. Unfortunately, we’re not as equipped for making the goals come true, and the pattern most of us have seen is that we start a goal with optimism, only to be disappointed when we haven’t done much after the first week or so.
I’d like to suggest that you try creating rules that will make your goals happen.
This was the most helpful way I formed the habit of flossing. On odd numbered days I have to floss. It helped me (and my formerly tender gums) ease into the routine and made it easier to jump back into the routine if I skip a day. Once my gums got healthier I wanted to floss on even days too.
There are myriad psychology models and theories on what motivates us to do the things we do: how we respond to incentives, achievement theories, and so on.
I look at motivation as excitement. So how can you remain motivated in a simple way that works every single day? Here are 10 ways.
A related tip, from a great book on science writing (Ideas Into Words by Elise Hancock) is to not talk about the great new thing you learned, or the great interview you just had, until you write it down. You’ll be excited the first time you tell the story, and you want that excitement on the page instead of wasted on telling your friend over coffee. You can still tell them, just wait until after you write it down.
My New Years resolutions?
- Less injuries. I had two – broke ribs, and ~6 months later something to my leg that stopped me from running for a month. I’d taken that for granted until now.
- Less triathlons. In 2015, I did 9 of them (only missed one, or it’d have been 10). It’s not a matter of cost – I did early bird registration for all of them – but training. Racing with no training meant diminished returns as the season went on. 5 races maximum this year.
Gimmicky diets, flavor fakery, and sham sweets all try to bamboozle the brain out of wanting sugary treats and calorie-packed happy hour drinks. But scientists may have found an all-natural way to simply switch off those corrupting cravings.
I am always nervous about hormone treatments, as we usually do not know all the side effects of the hormone treatments, as the body is a series of complex chemical interactions driven in part by hormones. I am even more nervous about chemical treatments than hormone treatments, as they are not usually natural to the body and can throw things out of whack leaving the body no natural way to overcome the chemical imbalance. So I am cautiously optimistic that this is a better treatment path than existing medicines, as the hormone occurs naturally in the body, appears to be directly involved in doing what they want it to do already, and hopefully the body has some built in methods to handle additional amounts of the hormone with fewer serious side effects.
In Siberia, under the auspices of a strange new public weight-loss program, a woman named Yelena Salnikova has been rewarded for losing weight with the wonderful gift of coal. This is not a weird kind of Santa-goes-to-Siberia punishment, but a resource to warm her home through the incredibly cold Russian winter. Motivation comes in all forms, you know?
Seriously – it’s Siberia. This is a generous program. Having lived in desolate areas, bring someone a couple cords of wood…
Remember the excitement you felt when you launched headfirst into your latest project? Every door was open and the opportunities were endless. But then, if you’re like most people, you start to stumble near the finish line. And all that momentum and drive that got you to that spot seems to just disappear.
A couple of years back I met someone who told me about a swim meet where they swam so hard, they were so exhausted that they could not get themselves out of the pool. They were embarrassed that they had to get help to get out. I disagreed – getting out of the pool wasn’t part of the competition, so I’d much prefer to finish knowing that I really did try my best.
On a similar note, I was in my first significant distance cycling event. I will never forget how I lost started to power down when I saw the signs counting down the distance to the finish line. The closer I got, the worse it got. I’m more experienced now, know myself better and train better now so it’s not an issue.
Maybe you’ve been talking about taking that professional development class for months now, or you’ve really been meaning to update your retirement savings plan. It would really help you manage your stress if only you could get yourself to go to the gym. Setting goals is easy, but actually accomplishing them tends to be a lot harder.
New research in Psychological Science suggests that we may be more likely to actually follow through with our professional goals if we start on a Monday rather than a Thursday.
I wonder how much of this is due to culture. I’d think it to be the case for those whose week starts on Monday. Or consider those on shift work… What about those who don’t use the Gregorian calendar?
I was going to skip my daily swim the other morning. I had already walked three miles with a friend and taken my dog to the park for his exercise. I was really tired, my back was sore, I had a column to write and lots to do around the house.
But I knew from past experience that I would feel much better after 40 minutes of swimming laps. So in I went. And, yes, I did feel better — not just refreshed, but more energetic, clearheaded and better prepared than I would have been otherwise to tackle the day’s essentials.
The article makes recommendations similar to what a study recently suggested about what to do for long term weight loss.
I’m often reminding myself that I (almost) never regret a workout, but I often regret skipping one. Like a friend of mine, I like starting my day by cycling. It throws off my routine and day in general; the cycling wakes me up. And if it’s not one activity, there’s another – sometimes I change things up to go for a run instead, or swim if possible. Doing the three disciplines of triathlon doesn’t mean I (or anyone else) has to race – it’s just cross training until you put on the swim cap and line up for the start 😉
More than 3,300 people signed up for the 30-Day Learning Challenge (wow!), and some of you might be finding a dip in your motivation for learning.
That’s OK. We all go through dips in motivation sometimes. The key is to figure out a better motivator, and adjust your plan.
Today I’d like to talk about a few common motivations that don’t work that well, and then share what I’ve found to be the best motivations for learning — ones that keep you going strong even after a month or two.
I don’t know about curiosity – that will get you in the door, but likely to wear off quickly. Especially if you don’t have any skill, aptitude, or just a good experience. Having someone to do things with has always been a recommendation – someone to suffer with, as well as compete/motivate each other… But seeing improvement/results/rewards for your effort is a positive feedback loop.
Whatever it is that works, mind that it can/will plateau. Which is fine, there’s ways to deal with that.
“I’ve ruined my diet” is a motivation-crushing phrase. We like to think that we’re a pretty trustworthy analyst of our own fitness lives, but we’re often wrong—and making our own bleak analysis can actually cause a bad outcome.
A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that causes itself to become true. These are dangerous in fitness, where mindset is often the determinant of success. Here are three of the most common, and how you can overcome them.
- “Ruining your diet”? Know that there’s benefit in failing on your diet.
- Training won’t always be good. I certainly have off days, and days that are certainly better than others. Make the most of it, when you can. And I know lots who’ve recorded themselves on their Garmin/etc, thinking they had a bad day only to find out it was a good one. So there’s something to be said for having technology to give you more insight.
With a little knowledge and self-compassion…