Incremental Motivation.

Many parts of life can seem such a chore or a burden at times. Granted, most of the outcomes that follow a struggle or draining of time and resources are totally worth the effort put in. That thought alone however is sometimes not enough to pull ourselves through, and some other tactics need to be employed to give us that boost, or at least make the journey to achievement less daunting.

I’m an optimist. I think I always have been, but even believing things are going to be great and things will head in the right direction for me doesn’t usually result in plain sailing. We all have to cross seas of torment, struggle, set-backs and metaphorical rough tides. The issue mostly derives from perceiving our goals as a whole, as opposed to a collection of tasks that collectively equate to a big reward.

Without trying to be over-simplistic, a process that I’ve adopted over the past year or so, is to break down these goals into minor tasks. Segmenting the big goal, into a list of less-daunting little tasks. I find this method can be applied to many commitments in life, whoever you are. Some will find it easy, others may find the application harder. It’s worked for me however. Laziness can inhibit a great deal of potential, and people can become masters of finding excuses to not do something, or try to justify their reasoning of avoidance. With this in mind, I find breaking things down, can really aid your ability to envisage success, one step at a time. I believe we can equally become masters of finding those reasons TO do something.

For example, I’ve stared going to the gym over the past few months. I’m not overweight, far from it. My motives are simply to promote and practise self-discpline, and to demonstrate that I can mould my mindset to my own benefit. If I can tone up a little in doing so, then even better. I try to head to the gym every other day. The gym is close to where I work, so I try to go after every other shift. I start off with cardio, try to aim for fifteen minutes of running on the treadmill. I run at a fast speed, so fifteen minutes can definitely be challenge, some days more than others. I’ll be honest, music is a big motivator when running, and I don’t think I’d run as much without it. The other aid is time management. Time management meaning to break down those minutes, to achieve the full fifteen incrementally. Without music and just focusing on the time slowly crawling up to fifteen minutes would not be the best approach, at least not for me. By focusing on the music, I try to keep running until the next drop or chorus, and keep repeating this. Using each part of the track as a mini checkpoint. I find I can run even farther if my running matches the beat of the rhythm or the drums. Aside from focusing on the music like this, I like to think of my current running time relative to the full fifteen minutes I aim for, but framed positively. For example, ‘five minutes in’ becomes ‘a third of the way’, not ‘still ten minutes to go’. Seven and a half becomes ‘half-way’. The seconds pass quicker than the minutes, so I find focusing on a minute at a time, along with the aid of music is so much effective than focusing on five minutes at a time. Sometimes I will push myself beyond fifteen minutes, by pushing myself a little further, believing that an extra minute is now only 1/15th of what I’ve already done. If a new song starts, pushing myself to the end of that uplifting or motivating track can easily add on four minutes. When I’m fatigued at around ten minutes of running, it’s so tempting to think ten minutes is enough for today. Little thoughts or reasons to stop come racing to my mind, for example, ‘well you have had a long day at work’, or ‘you can lift more weights instead’. It’s a rewarding feeling to finally hit STOP after fifteen minutes of running, knowing I didn’t succumb to the temptation of giving up with excuses, and knowing that I reached my target using reasons to carry on and reach those mini checkpoints. Breaking those final five minutes down into two lots of two and a half, or five one minute segments (which seem so relatively minuscule) is such a beneficial mindset. It really makes the whole process less daunting and more rewarding.

I feel like utilising and practicing this mindset during exercise can make it a lot easier to apply to other areas of life. It can become a habit you can automatically resort to, and only for the best. The same can be applied to other aspects of not only the gym, but your personal goals too; it’s so transferable. How you perceive your goals, no matter how big or small, can really influence how you perceive your ability of achieving them. I wish I developed this ‘Incremental Motivation’ mindset whilst I was at university. Changing that ‘Finish formative assignment’, or ‘Finish cognitive essay’ on my ‘To-Do’ list into several smaller components would have really served me well.

All big goals comprise of smaller parts. Gaining that promotion is not a one-step process. World leaders’ checklists are not solely consisting of ‘become a representative of my country’. Career ladders, raising children, travelling the world, losing weight, changing diets, graduating college/university, starting businesses or even goals as small as finishing a book are not overnight accomplishments.

Break down your goals, take things one step at a time. Enjoy YOUR journey of achieving the bigger picture, one accomplishment at a time. You can do it.

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