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Thursday, October 13, 2011

How can I plan to sustain my motivation to change ?

Many people think motivation magically arrives and is sustained by itself. The truth is that the more thought and planning we put into a new goal, the greater the possibilities of it's achievement are.

It makes good sense to commit to the techniques of sustaining motivation. Click here for a worksheet on Planning for Sustaining Motivation.  Download the sheet and take notes as you read this.

One Goal: Many of us take on too much at once. The best way to make a lasting change is to focus on one goal at a time. Put all of your change energy on this one goal, until it becomes more of a habit. Focus on one goal at a time.

Inspiration: To be inspired means to feel mentally or emotionally stimulated to do something. The more stimulated you feel, the stronger your chances of success. Many of us go to motivational speakers or read stories of successful people to nurture our inspiration.  Stock up on sources of inspirational material to keep you going as you pursue your goal. Use this as your bedtime reading as you continue to work on your goal.

Passion & Excitement: This is a tad different than inspiration. Once stimulated to make a change, we also have to create enough energy to continue with it. One very good way is to visualize success, visualize as often as possible, make a vision board, talk to others who are excited for you. Find a way to keep this energy going. See it, smell it, feel it, hear it.

Anticipation: Looking forward to the day you start working on the goal will help build energy and motivation.  How do you feel when looking forward to a party, or a trip, or a nice dinner out?  You can generate this same feeling of anticipation when planning to start a new wellness goal. Mark a date a week, or two, in advance and spend that time preparing for the big day.  Make sure you plan all aspects of implementing your new goal.

Advertise: Post your goal. Make a simple sign of only a few words, and put it all over your house or office where you will be reminded of your focus. Get creative. Use pictures, words, email reminders, anything will do as long as it helps build your excitement.

Public Commitment: Hold yourself accountable by making public statements to friends, family, community. It's much harder to back down knowing others are cheering you on. Find or even create your own support group.

Daily Thought:  Find a way to remind yourself daily of your goal. Do one small thing everyday towards your goal. Send yourself email messages.  Get friends to take turns phoning or texting you.

Support: It's much more diffucult achieving a goal alone. Make sure you have people you can call on if you're feeling discouraged or unmotivated. Make these arrangements ahead of time. It's best to find a support group or system to help you sustain your motivation.

Ebb and flow: It's normal for motivation to come and go. Don't give up if feeling discouraged. All of the planning you are doing will help sustain you during the times of ebb.

Benefits: The painful or uncomfortable aspects of  change are much easier to think about than the benefits. Train yourself to focus on benefits. Post lists of the benefits throughout your home or office. Create some way to help you remember the reason why you are wanting this change.

Positive Thinking:  Watch your thoughts and notice if you are going towards negative thinking.  Take the negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. Affirmations can help. Post-its can help. Snapping rubber bands on your wrists can help. Be creative. Have fun.

Start Small: When setting your goal make sure it is small enough to be manageable. Your coach will make sure your goal is well articulated using the SMART system. It's too easy to get overwhelmed by lofty goals, and then just give up completely.

I know some of the above points can be overlapping, but it makes sense to tease out every aspect of your new goal, so that should the going get have backup already prepared.

There is nothing wrong with finetuning your plans as you go. You may have new ideas,  find better ways of support, or need to rethink the goal. Remember there's always a Plan A, and a Plan B, and a Plan C.

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