Keeping focused on healthy eating, working out and being fit is very important to me. It’s both a long term and a short term goal. I know that staying focused and motivated will lead to bigger successes and reaching my goals.
Some days however, I’m just not feeling it, so I have some mental tricks I use. One of the tricks is something I call “Little Rewards” that use tools to finish something to get on to the next thing. It’s like playing a little game with myself.
Maybe everyone does this and it is nothing new or earth shaking. But if not, I thought I’d share what goes in my head when I’m trying to motivate myself. These Little Rewards flip some switch in my brain.
1) Baby Steps: I find it easier to tackle something I don’t want to do by breaking it down into steps. Then after each one of the steps, providing myself a little reward.
Rewards need to match the step. If it’s a big project with lots of steps I don’t particularly enjoy (let’s say doing taxes), I give myself a little reward for each little step. Gathering papers. Printing out reports. Finding a file. Gathering the forms. Making an appointment. I guess it all depends on the task you are doing.
Here are some of the little rewards I might use are: have a cup of coffee after I complete the step, or put on lavender hand cream. or take a 20 minute walk and listen to a podcast, or call a friend to chat. Sometimes the reward is taking a selfie photo of myself after a run or bike ride. Sometimes listening to a favorite song does the trick.
2) Timer: I will set the timer at the kitchen stove or on my phone so that I can reward myself after I complete 20 minutes of something I have been putting off. It’s funny how much I can actually accomplish if take 20 minutes and just focus on that one thing. Procrastination often blows the project into a big thing in my mind, I find that if I set a timer and promise myself that I can stop when the timer goes off, I will get it done!
For the timer to work for me, I have to concentrate on the thing I don’t want to do. Maybe it is cutting up all the vegetables for food prep for the day. It’s not that I don’t like cutting vegetables… I do! But I also tend to procrastinate because I don’t need them right now. Then when I do need them, I’m in a rush and wish I had them ready. Setting a timer helps! Twenty minutes of vegetable chopping goes pretty quickly. I put them into containers in the bottom of the fridge and it’s amazing how much more often vegetables get added to something I’m cooking. Or I find I turn to them when I’m looking for a snack.
3) Gold Star: Although I don’t have the little stickers, I make a star on the pocket calendar that I use to track my various workouts. Two stars is an especially good workout. It’s funny that at my age, the stars still have a little power over me and acts as an incentive.
It must be a hold over from childhood and getting a star on a school paper, because now just a little hand drawn star, somehow feels like a great little reward. (I also remember getting pins with little gold star in Girl Scouts to represent each year of scouting – but I think those were considered awards, not rewards!
Either way, a gold sticker or a hand drawn star — it provides an Atta Girl and there is some switch in my brain that gives me the little oomph that I need to get something done.
Having the timer go off or coveting a little star may seem silly or pointless, but I’m still motivated by it. Looking back at old photos of biking or running activities is definitely motivational for me. Big rewards like a medal after a race are certainly motivating, but it’s the tiny things each day that helps me to make up a daily healthy and fit life.
What tools do you use to get yourself going? Please share below or send me an email at Chris@becomingelli.com. Or leave a voicemail at 330-970-6662.