Every year at the start of the New Year I make promises to myself, not resolutions but new goals. Short term and long term ambitions for my health, career and personal development. This year, I have made an intentions list. An intentions list is something new for me, but it’s a list of things I believe I deserve for my own personal growth. Things like “I will spend more time laughing” or “I will spend more of my time seeking adventure” (both inclusions on the list). For me, if I write things down on a list, and see them every day, I tend to stick to them. For me, this is the easiest way, and it works. However, for most people who attempt a New Years Resolution, like quit smoking, eat better or exercise more, fail. So why is it? Why can some people say they want to make a change, but they just can’t?
I recently listened to a Rich Roll podcast with top selling author Gretchin Rubin where they discussed exactly this, what motivates people. Gretchin describes how she believes our motivation comes from how we respond to expectations. She describes expectations as being either outer expectations (like showing up for team practice or work deadlines) and inner expectations (keeping New Years resolutions or simply making time for yourself). In Gretchins book “the Four Tendencies” she elaborates on this idea of responding to expectations and categorises the response into four categories. She explains that once you understand which tendency you are, it will help you work out exactly how to motivate yourself to achieve your own goals. She even has a quiz you can take which can help determine what tendency you are! I took the quiz, turns out I’m an “Upholder” I respond well to both inner and outer expectations.
If Gretchins’ theory is correct, then I should be able to find my own motivation to do things. However, I do find it hard to get back into a rhythm, especially when the New Year comes around. We’re supposed to come back feeling refreshed and energised, yet most of us come back feeling sluggish and unmotivated. Getting back into the gym is painful (just when you thought you’d seen the end of full body DOMS), every day at work feels like a drag and the thought of meal prep… do Christmas leftovers still count? When you understand what motivates you, you can make the process a little easier. Here are some tips I like to use to help keep me motivated
I’m a list person. I write down everything, from my goals, my intentions even a daily To-Do list. Maybe it’s old fashioned, but for me it helps keep me accountable to my inner expectations. During these struggle times, I make the list realistic, with small daily tasks, that way at the end of the day I will feel as though I have achieved something (even if it was something as small as tidying my work desk).
Let’s think about outer expectations, if someone is relying on you showing up, you’re more likely to show up… correct? It’s because you’re accountable for your actions. If you’re finding it difficult to get back into the gym, book in times with a personal trainer, that way you have a financial and a time commitment locked in. I see a personal trainer twice a week, to make sure I maintain my weekly strength sessions. Or make a time with a friend to go for a walk, that way you can catch up on all the holiday gossip while you exercise!
Try Something New
The New Year is a great time to make promises to yourself and others, but the hard part is keeping them. Always thought about taking a pottery class? Time to sign up and commit! Thinking about getting back into sport? Find a club and join! Want to see more of the land you live in? Turn of the Netflix and turn on your car, get out there and see something you haven’t before! My intentions list is all about doing things for myself, things I want more of in my life, a lot of the list includes things I’ve never done before. Open up a book, draw a picture, pick up a racket, swim in a new ocean. Every new thing you do expands your learning and stimulates your brain, and who knows, it could be just the inspiration you need to make a change for good.
Motivation is something that is complex, these tips work well for me, but they may not be the right fit for you. Remember we all respond to expectations differently, and we are all motivated by different drivers, so take the time to think about what you want to be motivated for. You can also take Gretchin Rubins’ quiz and find out which tendency you are and start working on achieving your goals today https://quiz.gretchenrubin.com/