Thomas D. Yarnell, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist
In SELF-MOTIVATION (Part 1) I talked about using "Visual Goals" and "Written Contracts" to help you keep yourself motivated.  I know, life should be fun so you wouldn't have to play mind games with yourself to keep yourself motivated. Unfortunately, it just isn't that way much or even most of the time. Here are two more techniques you can use to help keep your battery charged.

Everyone likes to be rewarded for doing a good job. We also like being rewarded for just completing something we needed or wanted to do. Unfortunately, there are many times when there is noone else around to pat us on the back for the job we completed. Pats on the back, "good job", "nice work", "thank you" are all essential to being a motivated, productive person. There are many people in positions of authority who do not realize this or who don't care. If this is what's happening to you, you probably already feel discouraged. While rewarding yourself is not as potent as having the reward come from someone else, it can still help you stay motivated, productive and happier than if you received no reinforcement at all.
To make the reward system really work, you must pick rewards that you really want. Large or small, expensive or cheap, if it isn't something you want, it isn't a reward.
The size of the reward should also fit the size of the project. Buying a new car because you cleaned the garage is out of the question - if you know what I mean.  Taking an hour to sit and read your favorite mystery novel after completing the task seems more in line. 

PUT IT IN WRITING. Review the section on written contracts in Part 1.  Make a contract with yourself to reward yourself with "X" when you complete whatever project you are working on. How often you reward yourself will depend on how unmotivated you are.  If you are feeling unmotivated to do a project, you may contract with yourself to give yourself a reward after eact step of the project or after every hour you've worked.  If you are motivated to do something, you may wait until it's totally completed before rewarding yourself.

Finally, if you promise yourself a reward, you must give it to yourself and you must take it. Our mind is a fascinating device and it has a hugh memory. Make a contract with yourself for a special reward, complete the task but then, don't take the reward. The next time, your mind will recall the broken promise and the contract for a reward will not have the same motivating results as if you had taken and received the reward the last time.

This technique also holds true when you are trying to motivate someone else (spouse, child, friend, employee). Use all the same procedures and you will be able to produce some motivation for the other person. Just make sure the reward is something they want and not something you want.
Many of us have heard the phrase "Smile and things will get better." The psychological truth is that this is true. If you wake up feeling rotten, hating the world, put a smile on your face and some bounce in your step and pretty soon, you will start feeling better. Most people know that our body language tells a lot about our mood. What most people don't know is that, because of this relationship, you can use your body language to change your mood and how you feel about yourself. If you start acting confident (stand straight, head high, shoulders back, a smile on your face and walk crisply) even though you feel discouraged, your discouragement will begin to disolve. You will begin to feel more confident and sure of yourself. As this begins to happen, you will become more energized and motivated which, in turn, will make you feel even better about yourself.
In the beginning, you will be aware that you are just "faking it". With practice, it will become more natural and will become a genuine part of your personality. You can now start to transform your personality so you will be the type of person you want to be. It will take time and persistence but it does work.
Copyright 1999 - 2008 Thomas D. Yarnell, Ph.D.  All Rights Rserved
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