Motivating Yourself to Stay on Track
By Linda Sapadin, Ph.D
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You may be quite pleased with yourself, yet recognize that you’ve got a way to go to be the person you want to be. I’m not talking about aiming for perfection; I’m just talking about making changes that will enhance your life, your career, your health and/or your relationships.
You may have initiated such a change only to find that before long you reverted back to your old ways. So, is it possible to actually make yourself change?
Yes, but it’s not done by giving yourself self-imposed orders, threats and punishments .The key to a lasting transformation lies in motivating yourself to want to change, so that you gravitate toward the desired behavior much like a flower turns to the sun for nourishment.
Here are a few ways to inspire yourself to stay on track, even when you feel like giving up:
- Remind Yourself Why You Want to Change.
The beginning of change is easy. You’re upset with yourself. You’ve had it. You want to do better. So, you decide to change. In contrast, the middle of the change process is hard. You’re no longer revved up. It just feels arduous, burdensome. Who needs this?
Now is the time to remind yourself why you initiated this change. Perhaps you have goals that won’t be actualized unless you change your behavior. Perhaps you want to avoid negative consequences that will likely occur if you fall off track. Perhaps you have a perception of yourself that will never be realized unless you continue the change process.
- Make Your Mantra “I Will Not Give Up.”
You want to make a change but a part of you also doesn’t want to change (i.e. it’s too hard, takes too much effort.) When your mantra is “I Will Not Give Up,” you keep challenging yourself to move ahead despite resistance and fear.
For example, let’s suppose that you want to ask a VIP for career advice but hesitate to do so because you’re just too intimidated by her. Instead of letting your fear triumph, remember your mantra. You will not give up. You feel the fear and do it anyway. By doing so, you build up your self-muscle. You become more courageous and competent. If it turns out that the person won’t talk to you or is nasty to you, cross her off your list. But remember your mantra. Do not give up. Find someone else who can help you with what you want to accomplish.
- Learn from Criticism.
If you’ve received harsh criticism in life, told that you are lazy, stupid, crazy and would never amount to anything, it’s understandable that you don’t want to hear one more bit of criticism - ever. Yet, constructive criticism can be potentially useful feedback. You can discover what’s working and what’s not. What triggers resentment and what causes confusion.
If you are used to receiving demeaning criticism, you will be extra sensitive to other people’s feedback.Yet, you need to try hard to consider their words non-defensively. It will be easier to do this if you can ignore negative reflections on your character (i.e. “What’s wrong with you?”) and instead focus on specific criticisms that relate to your behavior (i.e. “You were late three times this week.” )
- Reward Yourself for Progress.
Some people find it much easier to criticize themselves than to praise themselves. I hope you’re not one of them. It’s always a good idea to pat yourself on the back for staying on track and for doing the job you set out to do.
It’s also a good idea to set up an ongoing reward system for yourself, much like some businesses do.Continue your exercise program for two months, reward yourself with a massage. Keep your anger in check for three months, treat yourself to a mini-vacation.
Here’s to your continuing success in staying on track and becoming the person you want to be!
Linda Sapadin is a psychologist and personal coach in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior. For more information about her work, contact her by email or visit her website at PsychWisdom.