Monday, August 11, 2008

Motivation Monday

It's Monday. The day we promise we'll start over again. The day we plan to start our diet, our exercise program, our proper skin regimen, or any of a dozen other routines we know will be good for us, but haven't had the motivation to keep up.

Well, I have some news for you: Motivation only gets you started. It might last a couple of weeks, but then what do you have to keep you going? You can't stay feeling motivated for weeks or months at a time. What has to happen to keep you going is that you have to establish new habits.

Easier said than done, but think of all the habits you have now. Even if you have bad ones, like biting your nails or smoking cigarettes, those took time to establish in the beginning--but you stuck with it! And there are other activities we perform each day, that we may not think of as habits: brushing your teeth in the morning and at bedtime; checking to see that the doors are locked before you retire for the evening; putting your car keys in the same place each time you come home so you'll find them the next time you look for them.

These are habits you took the time to learn and follow through with at one point in time, when you realized they were very helpful in the long run. If you don't floss, you'll pay for it at your six-month dental cleaning; if you don't take your make-up off before you go to bed, your eyes will be sore the next day or your skin might break out. There is always a habit established when we can easily see the benefit.

So what habit do you want to start, and what is the benefit?

For example, what good will come of you committing to take a walk each morning? Is there a payoff for you?

If you can't figure out what it is, you're not likely to stick with it. You'll start with the feeling that you are motivated, and soon you'll find it easy to talk yourself out of it: The little devil on your left shoulder says, "it's pretty humid out" and "I'd be much better off, really, with another 30 minutes of sleep"; and the angel defers and says, "you're right; let's hit the snooze button and get up later".

Think about the habits you'd like to have in the future, and work on figuring out how you can fit them--the exercise, the breakfast, the sunscreen--into your daily routine. Most importantly, know what the payoff is, and frequently remind yourself of that end result you want, when the little devil in you tries to talk the angel out of it.

The next time your arm reaches out to hit the snooze button, listen to the angel talking: "I'm going to feel so great after the walk--it's such a refreshing way to start the day, it's good exercise, and I know I can develop this life-long habit that will help me stay fit and healthy"!

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