Successful performance at just about anything requires that you be able to keep yourself motivated.  Discouragement and lack of motivation hits everyone at some time or another.  The more techniques we have to help us restart our engine or to keep it going when things get tough or boring, the more successful we will be.
Thomas D. Yarnell, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist
Techniques To Build Self-Motivation
Everyone expects to get something  for the time and effort they put in doing whatever job they do.  Maybe your goal is a new house, a car, a vacation or just a new piece of clothing.  Whatever it is that you are working for, make it visual.  Cut out pictures that show your goal or that represent your goal in some way.

Tape these pictures to a sheet of poster board and hang it in your home or at work or anyplace you can so you will see it often.  Carry a picture with you so you can look at what you are working towards every time you become discouraged or feel like slacking off. 

This technique works well for goals that are things we want and also goals that represent physical changes such as losing weight.  You can post and carry pictures of the car you want or pictures of Hawaii to represent the vacation you want.  You can also post and carry pictures of you when you were slim or at least slimmer than you are.  Some of my clients who don't remember ever being slim found that they could cut out pictures from a magazine of someone else who was slim and then paste their face over the face in the picture.  After the initial laugh about how silly that looked, they became used to it and found that it worked just as well as the others who had slim pictures of themself.

The more visual and more real you can make the goal, the better it will work at keeping you motivated.  One person I know was saving money for a very specific and expensive sports car.  He knew it would take awhile before he had the money and he became discouraged often even though he had pictures of the car scattered all over his house and in the car he drove then.  To make it more real to him, he and his wife went to the car dealer and took his picture sitting behind the wheel, looking in the trunk and standing next to the car.  After posting these pictures, he related that it made it so much more real and much easier to stay on task when he became discouraged.

Motivational research shows that people who write out what they are going to do are far more successful than people who only tell themselves they will do something.  Putting something in writing makes it psychologically more powerful.  This is one reason why making written lists helps us stay more organized than just having a mental list.  Our society favors written contracts and most of us have grown up knowing that you are supposed to honor written contracts.  We can take advantage of this psychological conditioning to help us stay motivated.  We can make a contract with ourself. 

In the contract, state what you will do, when you will complete the task and what your reward will be once the contract is fulfilled.  Read your contract over every morning and every evening before going to bed.  If your goals are too small or too large, revise them. You can rewrite your contract as needed but don't make it so easy that it becomes useless as a motivator.

Copyright 1999 - 2008  Thomas D. Yarnell, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.
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