So I’m visual…

If our motivation relies on others we create an unstable environment for our efforts.

I have a habit of starting workout plans and not finishing. Starting better eating habits and not finishing. Starting antibiotics and not finishing…(stay with me I’m making a point). Once I start to see results I quit. I get lazy. I start skipping workouts, cheating with chocolate and cherry coke, quit taking antibiotics. I’ve tried all kinds of motivations. If I lose x pounds, I’ll get a massage. If I eat well for x number of weeks I’ll eat an entire dark chocolate cake…not really, but you get the idea. But those things didn’t motivate me.

Recently, I saw a Facebook post by my niece Katie that inspired me. Katie is trying to drink 64 oz of water every day. She had a picture of a long paper chain hanging in her house. She explained that each day she meets her goal she adds a link. If she misses a day, she has to remove the entire link and start over! This was interesting to me. Removing one link, or not adding a new one wouldn’t motivate me, but tearing down the entire chain, that seemed like punishment. Especially as the chain grew longer and longer.

imageI want to workout every day. So I worked out and started my chain.  It felt fantastic! A visual reward for my dedication. My chain grew each day and I was motivated. I worked out at 10:30 pm one night because I didn’t want to have to pull down the whole thing! Every time I walked into my pantry I saw my chain and felt pride in all those links! Then it happened…

I got home from work one evening and I was tired. I ate dinner, hung out with Big Daddy and kept saying, “I still need to work out tonight.” We imagewatched some TV and went to bed. I woke up the next morning and immediately realized that I didn’t work out the day before. I tried making excuses to myself, I tried to justify, I thought about giving myself a “pass” for my first miss, but eventually I knew I had to accept the consequences and start over.  I went to my chain and took it all down. It was now a visual reminder of my failure. But this pain was the exact reason I knew that this chain is going to work for me. This simple visual is powerful enough to motivate me to succeed.

Everyone has something that motivates them. What is it for you? Would Katie’s chain do it? Money? Satisfaction of a job well done? Affirmation from others? Admiration from others? Cupcakes? It’s important to know. If our motivation relies on others (external motivation) we create an unstable environment for our efforts. If others don’t give us what we want, our efforts stop. If we are internally motivated, positive feedback from others is just icing on the cake. (I’m mentioning cake a lot, aren’t I?) Leave me a comment and let me know what motivates you!

Be kind, be grateful, be courageous,

Jules