We love all the posts with motivational quotes, don’t we? I have a whole series of them on Instagram and then pinned on Pinterest as well. And truthfully, sometimes I really need them to be reminded of something. To get off my butt.
Another truth? They are not going to KEEP me off my butt.
If you’re looking to do something, anything that lasts more than half an hour what you truly need is COMMITMENT. Commitment is much more consistent and it is the thing that is going to make you keep going.
How to motivate yourself
That being said, starting is the most important part! You can never get anywhere if you don’t start somewhere, right? And it is kind of hard to start something if you’re not motivated to do so.
But let’s say you found your motivation. You have your goal, you have your wish, you have the energy. What next?
Make a plan and tell somebody
Once you decided the hard part is done. That is if you have a plan. A plan is your commitment, it’s what is going to keep you from quitting. We are capable of much more than we think and we can somehow manage to do the most incredible things when we have to. Wake up every half an hour because the baby is teething? Sure. Pull an all-nighter to deliver that research paper in time? No problem. Work two shifts to support yourself and save for school? Let’s do this.
Then how come we are not capable of sticking to something hard when there is no emergency? Because when there is no deadline it’s easier to postpone. When we only answer to ourselves there is no accountability. We are all that is keeping us going and the only thing we can rely on to keep going is motivation. But nobody is motivated all the time. It’s impossible and it’s exhausting.
So what do we do? We create a deadline, we create accountability.
How do we create a deadline?
Simple, by creating a plan. This is actually more than a deadline. It’s a list of things to do. It might seem trivial but having to think about what is it that we have to do is a major obstacle towards actually doing something. We quickly get overwhelmed and start thinking about skipping it altogether or we exchange a more difficult task/workout for an easier one. Having a plan made up front removes this step, the commitment is already there and the obstacle is gone. It also gives each individual step a deadline, so no rescheduling unless really really necessary.
How do we create accountability?
By telling the world. If everybody (or at least somebody) knows that you’re trying to lose weight or create a business or run your first marathon it is going to be much harder to back down. Because we usually don’t like to lose face. We don’t want to admit that we failed. When nobody knows it’s much easier to just quit and call it a day when nobody is looking.
I’m in a Facebook group for local moms of babies born January 2018. While chatting we figured out there were quite some Shaun T fans among us so we created a spinoff group just for us. It provided loads of inspiration and motivation by itself but then one of the members suggested we should post the workout we did each day for extra commitment. The first one would create a new post and the rest would comment their respective workouts under it.
Incredibly that was a game changer I think for most of us. We cheered on each other daily and everybody was eager to finish their planned workout so that they could proudly announce they did it. We would also quickly notice if there was somebody who hadn’t posted in a while, inquired about what the problem was and tried to help.
It is a really small but fantastic community and I’m really grateful we have found each other.
I thought I would include my plans and what I use to stay productive and on track towards my goals.
On my phone, I use the Wunderlist to-do app. It’s pretty easy to use, has a cute design and is available on all platforms so I can use it wherever. I just wish they added integration with Siri so I could just dictate what I want to add and when it needs to get done. Maybe they are going to add this now that iOS supports this kind of thing.
I don’t use a notebook when I work but now that I’m on maternity leave I use a notebook to track the small tasks I want to accomplish through the day. This is not for long-term plans, that is what Wunderlist is for but only the things that need to be done in the current day.
I just cross over the ones that I do. Making that line actually has a really positive psychological effect. I love crossing things off my to-do list. If you are like me and you’re having trouble starting on your task list, try adding some very simple quick tasks and do them first. Crossing them off will give you the start you need to get to the bigger ones.
Of course, it happens that I don’t manage to complete all of them on a given day but in that case, I just rewrite them on the next page and try again the next day.
The workout calendar
If you choose to do a workout program it usually comes with a calendar already and all you have to do is follow it. I finished my last program not too long ago and have since then found it very difficult to stick to a regimen. That’s because I didn’t have a plan but tried to come up with it as I went along. Big mistake! So now I create my personal programs for about two weeks in advance and have been much more successful since. The reason I have my own by the way is that I’m combining workouts from Insanity Max30 with running and yoga.
I chose to do a coaching series on the Nike+ Run Club app so this is my basic commitment. Then depending on what kind of run I have scheduled I add whatever I think I would be able to do or keep a rest day. I put this all down on paper while I figure it out but then enter the individual workouts in my regular calendar together with the rest of my appointment. You could also create a separate calendar, the important thing is that you have your workouts scheduled. I find it’s much less likely that I would move them around or skip them this way. Also since they’re on my calendar they’re also on my watch so I can quickly look it up before I start the workout.
The main takeaway from this is that when you have something scheduled, you’ve already committed to doing it. Skipping a workout would violate that commitment. And even though you’re only accountable to yourself, if you value your word, you will get up and do it. You promised yourself the day you put together that calendar. Doesn’t matter whether you’re motivated or not. A promise is a promise.