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zen habits: Top 20 Motivation Hacks - An Overview

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Top 20 Motivation Hacks - An Overview


For the last two weeks I've been posting the Top 20 Motivation Hacks, one by one. These are the tips and tricks that, if used in combination, are a nearly sure way to achieve your goals.

Achieving goals is not a matter of having "discipline". It's a matter of motivating yourself, and keeping your focus on your goal. Follow these hacks, or any combination of them that works for you, and you should have the motivation and focus you need.

Here they are, in reverse order (links take you to more on each):

#20: Chart Your Progress. Recently I posted about how I created a chart to track my progress with each of my goals. This chart is not just for information purposes, for me to look back and see how I'm doing. It's to motivate me to keep up with my goals. If I'm diligent about checking my chart every day, and marking dots or "x"s, then I will want to make sure I fill it with dots. I will think to myself, "I better do this today if I want to mark a dot." Well, that's a small motivation, but it helps, trust me. Some people prefer to use gold stars. Others have a training log, which works just as well. Or try Joe's Goals. However you do it, track your progress, and allow yourself a bit of pride each time you give yourself a good mark.

Now, you will have some bad marks on your chart. That's OK. Don't let a few bad marks stop you from continuing. Strive instead to get the good marks next time.

#19: Hold Yourself Back. When I start with a new exercise program, or any new goal really, I am rarin' to go. I am full of excitement, and my enthusiasm knows no boundaries. Nor does my sense of self-limitation. I think I can do anything. It's not long before I learn that I do have limitations, and my enthusiasm begins to wane.

Well, a great motivator that I've learned is that when you have so much energy at the beginning of a program, and want to go all out -- HOLD BACK. Don't let yourself do everything you want to do. Only let yourself do 50-75 percent of what you want to do. And plan out a course of action where you slowly increase over time. For example, if I want to go running, I might think I can run 3 miles at first. But instead of letting myself do that, I start by only running a mile. When I'm doing that mile, I'll be telling myself that I can do more! But I don't let myself. After that workout, I'll be looking forward to the next workout, when I'll let myself do 1.5 miles. I keep that energy reined in, harness it, so that I can ride it even further.

#18: Join an online (or off-line) group to help keep you focused and motivated. When I started to run, more than a year ago, I joined a few different forums, at different times, on different sites, such as Men's Health (the Belly-Off Runner's Club), Runner's World, Cool Running, and the running group at About.com. I did the same when I was quitting smoking.

Each time I joined a forum, it helped keep me on track. Not only did I meet a bunch of other people who were either going through what I was going through or who had already been through it, I would report my progress (and failures) as I went along. They were there for great advice, for moral support, to help keep me going when I wanted to stop.

#17: Post a picture of your goal someplace visible -- near your desk or on your refrigerator, for example. Visualizing your goal, exactly how you think it will be when you've achieved it, whether it's financial goals like traveling to Rome or building a dream house, or physical goals like finishing a marathon or getting a flat stomach, is a great motivator and one of the best ways of actualizing your goals.

Find a magazine photo or a picture online and post it somewhere where you can see it not only daily, but hourly if possible. Put it as your desktop photo, or your home page. Use the power of your visual sense to keep you focused on your goal. Because that focus is what will keep you motivated over the long term -- once you lose focus, you lose motivation, so having something to keep bringing your focus back to your goal will help keep that motivation.

#16: Get a workout partner or goal buddy. Staying motivated on your own is tough. But if you find someone with similar goals (running, dieting, finances, etc.), see if they'd like to partner with you. Or partner with your spouse, sibling or best friend on whatever goals they're trying to achieve. You don't have to be going after the same goals -- as long as you are both pushing and encouraging each other to succeed.

#15: Just get started. There are some days when you don't feel like heading out the door for a run, or figuring out your budget, or whatever it is you're supposed to do that day for your goal. Well, instead of thinking about how hard it is, and how long it will take, tell yourself that you just have to start.

I have a rule (not an original one) that I just have to put on my running shoes and close the door behind me. After that, it all flows naturally. It's when you're sitting in your house, thinking about running and feeling tired, that it seems hard. Once you start, it is never as hard as you thought it would be. This tip works for me every time.

#14: Make it a pleasure. One reason we might put off something that will help us achieve our goal, such as exercise for example, is because it seems like hard work. Well, this might be true, but the key is to find a way to make it fun or pleasurable. If your goal activity becomes a treat, you actually look forward to it. And that's a good thing.

#13: Give it time, be patient. I know, this is easier said than done. But the problem with many of us is that we expect quick results. When you think about your goals, think long term. If you want to lose weight, you may see some quick initial losses, but it will take a long time to lose the rest. If you want to run a marathon, you won't be able to do it overnight. If you don't see the results you want soon, don't give up ... give it time. In the meantime, be happy with your progress so far, and with your ability to stick with your goals. The results will come if you give it time.

#12: Break it into smaller, mini goals. Sometimes large or longer-term goals can be overwhelming. After a couple weeks, we may lose motivation, because we still have several months or a year or more left to accomplish the goal. It's hard to maintain motivation for a single goal for such a long time. Solution: have smaller goals along the way.

#11: Reward yourself. Often. And not just for longer-term goals, either. In Hack #12, I talked about breaking larger goals into smaller, mini goals. Well, each of those mini goals should have a reward attached to it. Make a list of your goals, with mini goals, and next to each, write down an appropriate reward. By appropriate, I mean 1) it's proportionate to the size of the goal (don't reward going on a 1-mile run with a luxury cruise in the Bahamas); and 2) it doesn't ruin your goal -- if you are trying to lose weight, don't reward a day of healthy eating with a dessert binge. It's self-defeating.

#10: Find inspiration, on a daily basis. Inspiration is one of the best motivators, and it can be found everywhere. Every day, seek inspiration, and it will help sustain motivation over the long term. Sources of inspiration can include: blogs, online success stories, forums, friends and family, magazines, books, quotes, music, photos, people you meet.

#9:
Get a coach or take a class. These will motivate you to at least show up, and to take action. It can be applied to any goal. This might be one of the more expensive ways of motivating yourself, but it works. And if you do some research, you might find some cheap classes in your area, or you might know a friend who will provide coaching or counseling for free.

#8: Have powerful reasons. Write them down. Know your reasons. Give them some thought ... and write them down. If you have loved ones, and you are doing it for them, that is more powerful than just doing it for self-interest. Doing it for yourself is good too, but you should do it for something that you REALLY REALLY want to happen, for really good reasons.

#7: Become aware of your urges to quit, and be prepared for them.
We all have urges to stop, but they are mostly unconscious. One of the most powerful things you can do is to start being more conscious of those urges. A good exercise is to go through the day with a little piece of paper and put a tally mark for each time you get an urge. It simply makes you aware of the urges. Then have a plan for when those urges hit, and plan for it beforehand, and write down your plan, because once those urges hit, you will not feel like coming up with a plan.

#6: Make it a rule never to skip two days in a row.This rule takes into account our natural tendency to miss days now and then. We are not perfect. So, you missed one day ... now the second day is upon you and you are feeling lazy ... tell yourself NO! You will not miss two days in a row! Zen Habits says so! And just get started. You'll thank yourself later.

#5: Visualize your goal clearly, on a daily basis, for at least 5-10 minutes. Visualize your successful outcome in great detail. Close your eyes, and think about exactly how your successful outcome will look, will feel, will smell and taste and sound like. Where are you when you become successful? How do you look? What are you wearing? Form as clear a mental picture as possible. Now here's the next key: do it every day. For at least a few minutes each day. This is the only way to keep that motivation going over a long period of time.

#4: Keep a daily journal of your goal. If you are consistent about keeping a journal, it can be a great motivator. A journal should have not only what you did for the day, but your thoughts about how it went, how you felt, what mistakes you made, what you could do to improve. To be consistent about keeping a journal, do it right after you do your goal task each day. Make keeping a journal a sensory pleasure.

#3: Create a friendly, mutually-supportive competition.We are all competitive in nature, at least a little. Some more than others. Take advantage of this part of our human nature by using it to fuel your goals. If you have a workout partner or goal buddy, you've got all you need for a friendly competition. See who can log more miles, or save more dollars, each week or month. See who can do more pushups or pullups. See who can lose the most weight or have the best abs or lose the most inches on their waist. Make sure the goals are weighted so that the competition is fairly equal. And mutually support each other in your goals.

#2: Make a big public commitment. Be fully committed. This will do the trick every time. Create a blog and announce to the world that you are going to achieve a certain goal by a certain date. Commit yourself to the hilt.

#1: Always think positive. Squash all negative thoughts. Monitor your thoughts. Be aware of your self-talk. We all talk to ourselves, a lot, but we are not always aware of these thoughts. Start listening. If you hear negative thoughts, stop them, push them out, and replace them with positive thoughts. Positive thinking can be amazingly powerful.

See also:

10 comments:

Alex Shalman said...

Hey Leo,

I'm surprised I haven't run into you blog earlier. This post sums up a lot of useful information, I like.

I think you may find my personal development blog of interest. You're welcome to visit at www.alexshalman.com/blog

Leo said...

Hi Alex ... thanks for the comment. I'm glad you enjoy the site. I looked at your blog briefly and will mention it in my Nifty Links for today. Thanks!

WrightHandBlogger said...

Leo,
These are PRICELESS!

I'm thankful that one of your readers and one of my friends named Bill Vick brought this to our attention -

Love what you're doing with your motivation hacks, Leo.

Thanks!

Leo said...

@writehand: thanks for the nice comment. I'm glad you're enjoying the site. If I've been helpful in motivating someone to achieve their goal, I am a happy person.

sportcrazy said...

Leo, great post. I'm a fantastic procrastinator and need to take these onboard. I'll start tomorrow!

Leo said...

@sportscrazy: lol. I hope you really do! Thanks for the nice comment.

rbm411 said...

Leo:

Great post. I run too and your rules, just start and never miss two days in a row are crucial to continuing to run day in and day out. Excellent advice.

Andrew "Duff" said...

Leo,

Great post! It gave me a little of #3, because
I recently got some mild del.icio.us fame for my GTD Mastery 100 checklist and I'm considering blogging about the exact stuff you are--but now I'll have to step it up and figure out how to compete!

Thanks for raising the bar,
~Duff

Leo said...

Hi Duff ... I'm glad if this post has inspired you to new heights! I liked your post on GTD Mastery (I linked to it about a month ago) ... you should definitely write more along those lines. Keep up the great work!

Coping With Grief said...

The 10 commandments to the law of attraction (I wanted to share this with your audience)

The Law of Attraction operates positively only if you put it to use. This means that you can gain negativity in your life until you decide to make changes. It can be just one small change to your life that can determine a positive future. However, some people require several changes because of the extent of the negative vibes in their lives.I would like to discuss 10 things that are a requirement of the Law of Attraction to bring positive things toward you. A law is recognized as a rule and is mandatory in certain situations in order to work.

The rule of thumb here is that your actions have to be calculating in order to follow the specific commandments of the Law of Attraction. To make it clearer, you must target certain areas of your life to get you to where you want to go.

1. Purpose
What is your purpose in this life? Do you know what your gifts and talents are? Are you fulfilling your God-given purpose to help, encourage or contribute to the universe or society? Or are you living your life just tagging along? Search and examine yourself because without purpose, you will not attract success. Success does not just come along to someone who is not prepared or who don't have any idea where they are going. Therefore, to make the law of attraction work, you need to evaluate your life and see where you are, where you want to be, and what are the talents you have to get there.

2. Visualize
Now that you have a clue of what your purpose is, you need to visualize and see yourself already there. Do whatever it takes to keep these pictures in your mind at all times. Make a scrapbook or keep a journal to remind yourself that you are on a mission to get to a place of purpose.

3. Passion
Create a passion for your purpose because it is your passion that will attract the tenacity to keep you going and possibly bring people to you that can help you to fulfill your dream.

4. Perseverance
Don't ever give up. There will be times when you feel like nothing is happening, but you have to be patient and in the meantime, do things that will contribute to your dream while you wait for the manifestation.

5. Courage
Have no fear of the unknown. Fear stifles your dream. Doubt will kill your purpose. Fear attracts failure, so encourage yourself if you have to and don't let anyone discourage you.

6. Desire
Desire and passion work hand in hand. However, desire is what you have determined that you want to happen. Passion is the excitement of what is about to happen, so don't confuse the two. Continue to maintain your desire by speaking it out aloud to yourself. Even if it looks crazy, do it. I find that a spoken word is more effective than just a thought.

7. Goals
Set realistic goals for yourself and write them down. Start with your short-term goals first. You will be able to identify with a shorter plan and see the results quicker. When you write down your goals, you attract people who will see your organization skills and want to help you to get your goals accomplished. Keep focused on your purpose. Never lose sight of the path that you want to take and let that be your motivation to continue to move toward your purpose and fulfill the law of attraction.

8. Change
Don't be afraid of change. Change is good. It shows that you are on your way to self-improvement. It gives you a sense of hope and attracts new friends who will identify with the change in you and want to be your friend.

9. Relationships
Your new friends will help you to stimulate good relationships and it is through your new relationships that you will get to your destined purpose. After you leave your old friends behind, you attract a new future with new people who may make a better impact on your life. Sometimes we get stuck where we are because of the friends we keep; friends who don't want to change or who don't have a sense of purpose, so forming new and worthwhile friendships is another key element in following the rules of the law of attraction.

10. Gratitude
Lastly, but more importantly, is gratitude. Be thankful for where you are and where you are going. There is a spiritual entity at work in fulfilling the law of attraction, so connect with your spirituality and make it known that you understand the importance of remaining humble and being grateful for the gifts, talents and opportunities that have been afforded you because without these, you would never be able to fulfill the rules of engagement. The law of attraction cannot function without these ten principles. You have to be in touch with your humanity and your spirituality to make it all happen for you.


Cheryline Lawson is a passionate author of online books and owner of http://www.thelawofattractinganything.com/ and provides informative articles and information about the law of attraction. Go visit her website today at http://www.thelawofattractinganything.com to see it for yourself. You are welcome to use or reprint this article, but it must be in its entirety with this resource box intact.