WHERE OH WHERE DID MY MOJO GO?
- haven't we all cried out at some time when suffering from lack of motivation?
Here's a solution - otherwise known as the carrot and no stick method.
The principal is simple, reward don't punish. Anyone who's ever tried to train a dog will already have realised that this is the only way to get our canine companions to respond. And the reason is - it works, a positive reinforcement is stronger than a negative.
Take today, my alarm goes off and I realise it is a Fibro day for me, therefore every movement has an added element of pain to it. But I have to go to the office and work - it is already 23°C and the view from my window looks like this - endless blue skies and wall to wall sunshine.
How to get motivated to shut myself up in an office all day today?
The not-so-secret secret to it - choose an appropriate reward.
For me personally, my reward today is going to be a swim in the local lake to ease all the tensions away and the gentle exercise my Fibro pain can cope with.*
Obviously not a solution for the masses, but the trick to the carrot is that it has to be a reward that gives YOU that positive boost, you choose what will make you happy. Once you know that something good is coming it is easier to do the work - whatever that may be, to claim your reward. Remember to make your carrot reward appropriate to the task you have set yourself: weed your garden - buy some new plants, finish a project - cruise Pinterest to find another, finish a book - go to the library; and so on. Make it something simple, it doesn't have to be a purchase, but something real that creates a positive emotion in you. Creating motivation is personal - so your carrot reward has to be personal.
For example: if you are struggling with a work project that just seems insurmountable, try breaking that work up into 5 bullet point items and creating a reward system for completion of each item. You could give yourself a 5 minute break to watch cat videos, or a walk around the block, play a favourite piece of music or give yourself a foot massage. Your motivation comes from inside, you just need to tempt it out with the right bait.
A word of caution - never, ever make your reward about food if you are attempting to loose weight or following any form of dietary plan. To be completely honest, in my personal opinion, food should never be used as a reward - except when training dogs.
The problem with using food as a reward is that it also tends to be what we use to reinforce negative feelings. And in food I'm including alcohol to a certain extent :
"I've been 'good' all day, I'll have a glass of wine now."
"I've stuck to my diet all day, I'll have that packet of peanuts now."
"I've walked my step count today, I can have an extra biscuit with my coffee."
- it feels like a reward, but very quickly, these thoughts can turn to guilt -
"I've been 'good' all day, why did I spoil it with a chocolate bar."
"I've walked my step count today, and ruined it with a beer."
- and it can the very quickly become -
"Oh well, there's no point in sticking to the diet now is there, I might as well...... <insert extra calories here>."
........any of that sound familiar?
In my experience food is the reward that goes sour on us the quickest.
Using food as a carrot (poor pun intended) has a tendency to create a negative response in a destructive cycle. Many diets that have points or traffic light systems try to sell you their 'snack' rewards as part of their plans, but the clue to their continued success is there - they are teaching you to snack on the one hand and then telling you that snacking is a negative practice on the other. It creates a negative, guilt, failure, try again cycle. Many of these dietary regimes and companies are incredibly successful dressing up the basic mantra of 'move more, eat less'; but they do work for some people. Just try switching out the reward to something less calorie based.
Again, it's all about personalising that reward rather than accepting a third party's idea of what motivation should be about - the NO STICK part.
So tempt that motivation back with something that gives you an immediate positive response: whether it is more plants for your garden, a quick dance to your favourite tune, or a walk in the park with your faithful canine companion, make it concrete and make sure it makes you happy.
OK, OK - my reward for going to the office is that I can wear shoes with high heels!!