Monday, October 7, 2013

The Key to staying motivated: Knowing what drives you.

A couple of years ago, I worked with a life coach.  I've wanted to work with one for years and finally the decision to go for it.  It was an interesting experience, to say the least.  Because I was already on a personal growth journey long before my first session, much of what he told me I knew already.

There's one thing I learned about myself that really struck me.  He told me, after doing an assessment, that I was much more motivated by pain rather than pleasure.  Meaning that I'm more likely to take action to avoid pain than to move towards something good.  When I thought about it, I realized that he was completely accurate.  Whenever things are "bad" or getting bad, I will muster up everything within me to change the situation.  In essence, my actions are motivated by the fact that I want to change the current situation.

But when the situation is going "well,"  suddenly I feel less motivated to keep going. My actions begin to decline, gradually the situation turns for the worst, and soon, a burst of motivation overcomes me to create a different outcome.  It becomes a viscous cycle.  Worst of all this way of doing things keeps me from reaching higher levels of accomplishments.

For the sake of illustration, let's talk about my fitness journey.  I get all motivated because I've added a few pounds or lost muscle tone.  Then I make a decision to get back in the gym (avoiding the pain of being uncomfortable with my body & energy levels).  After a few weeks of intense training things change and I'm enjoying the results (experiencing pleasure).  Then, I miss a few days which turn into a few weeks....and soon I'm back to square one.



I started thinking of other means of motivating myself staying motivated besides avoiding a negative outcome. After a little reflection, I remembered that I have yet another motivator aside from pain avoidance.  I'm also highly motivated by immediate results.  I will keep doing something as long as I see impact of my actions.  Then I came across this idea of rewarding yourself for every time you take an action.  Each time you do something, you see the impact of that action. The more you do it the greater the impact.  Hence, the workout jar.

I thought this was a great idea and decided to put it into practice right away.  I love this system because:
  •  The reward mechanism is very visual.  I see the impact of my past actions every time I glance at my jar. 
  • The jar helps develop my weak area which is "pleasure motivation".  I want the jar to grow, and I want to reach a certain dollar amount by the end of the year.  This is pleasure motivation at its finest.  
I have every intention of creating a similar process for other areas where I struggle to stay consistent (like drinking water, daily meditation, etc).  Maybe I use marbles instead of dollars. Maybe I'll keep using currency.  One thing I notice, after doing this for a few days, is how much I want to put a dollar in the jar.  I have no issues with having to work out for at least 30 minutes as long as I get to put a dollar in that jar.  I live for it!  

Best of all, I'm amassing a small fortune and one day, I will put that money towards something cool.  Then I will have "something cool" and a fit body.  It's a win-win.  
  1. You and I both Nadege. Maybe I'll give the jar a shot.
    Abbi of http://belowthawaist.blogspot.jp/

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