I recently read an article by Eric Barker on TIME Magazine’s opinion blog. The article felt with motivation and why people have such a hard time staying motivated to follow through on the goals we set for ourselves.
“Why are we so good at thinking of what to do but so terrible at actually doing those things?”
A question I am sure you have asked yourself countless times as you realized that you would be 10 pounds lighter by now if you would have actually done your bootcamp workout religiously for the last three weeks as planned. Or that your garage would be clean and completely organized and you wouldn’t be squeezing in and out of your car if you would have gotten up early last weekend and followed through on your “operation garage makeover” plan. We have all done it at one time or another, some of us have created an art out of it. The making of plans and setting of goals that we know are good for us only to majorly fail on the follow through. So, WHY? Why are we so great at making the plans and so horrible at enacting them?
Barker writes that “Productivity systems rarely take emotions into account. And feelings are a fundamental and unavoidable part of why humans do what they do. We can’t ignore our emotions. Because of the way our brains are structured, when thought and feelings compete, feelings almost always win. And we can’t fight our feelings. Research shows this just makes them stronger.”
SO… how exactly are we supposed to get past the power of our feelings when they are constantly proving to get in the way of our plans, effectively killing our motivation? Barker suggests three steps to rile up our emotions so that they fall in line with out thinking and planning.
1. GET POSITIVE
“When do we procrastinate the most? When we’re in a bad mood. Meanwhile, research shows happiness increases productivity and makes you more successful.”
One great way to stay positive is to monitor your SUCCESS and the PROGRESS you are making and celebrate it! No matter how small the step forward, remember it is a STEP FORWARD and thus it is success! Keep your mind focused on the positive things and stay optimistic, even when you hit bumps, snags or even that dreaded “plateau”. Do not focus on the hang-ups, refuse to dwell on missed steps, only positive thinking here folks!
2. GET REWARDED
“Rewards feel good. Penalties feel bad. And that’s why they both can work well for motivating you.
Research shows that rewards are responsible for three-quarters of why you do things.”
Find a reward that brings your emotions into alignment with your plans. Barker suggests creating a “commitment device”. For example:
“Give your friend $100. If you get a task done by 5PM, you get your $100 back. If you don’t complete it, you lose the $100. Your to-do list just got very emotional.”
YEP! That should do it!
3. GET PEER PRESSURE
Surround yourself with people you admire and strive to emulate and it will be easier to continue down the path you want to be on. Enlist a friend or two, or three, (or however many it takes) who care about you and want the best for you. These need to be people who are not afraid of confrontation with you! Ask them to create an accountability system with you. Now map out your goals and your plan of action and then ask them to hold you accountable to the achievement of those goals. Plan to go to the gym and train together so that slapping the snooze button on the alarm clock now means letting someone other than just yourself down. Plan a garage organizing day with a friend, that way when they show up to get the work done with you, your commitment level becomes more solidified and you are less likely to drop the ball.
Do you have a plan or a goal that you have been meaning to actually achieve but you never can seem to make the motivation part stick? Try out these three steps, and remember to go into the plan knowing that your emotions will be a huge influencer on your follow-through. Plan ahead and be prepared for those emotional road blocks by refusing negative thinking, remembering to reward your successes and create an accountability system for yourself.
“You can do this. In fact, believing you can do this is actually the first step. Think of yourself as a motivated, productive person. Research shows how people feel about themselves has a huge effect on success.”
Read the full article by Barker HERE.