The tools you need to motivate yourself
We all have things we want to achieve. Learn how holding yourself accountable can help you reap greater rewards.
Let’s face it, we’re all busy. I’m a working mum, I wear lots of different professional hats, and often my life is in overdrive.
Luckily, I have a large work threshold and a well-practised ability to sustain focus, which enables me to tackle all of these things. However, on the outside, I probably don’t always seem calm. Sometimes, people mistake my focus for stress or my purposefulness as intensity, which can impact my approachability. So cultivating the right external energy is definitely something I need to work on.
But the achievement of change or reaching a specific outcome takes commitment and hard work, as well as time and patience. So understanding how you can keep yourself motivated and on track is integral to success.
External accountability is holding yourself accountable to others in some way. It often involves a pre-negotiated reward – for example, a promotion, a pay rise, an award – which relies on us delivering a specific outcome.
While these tangible rewards are great motivators, there’s something even more powerful in helping us reach our goals – the validation, support and encouragement we receive from others. We want people to think well of us, to believe we will deliver on our promises, and so we hold ourselves to a higher standard of commitment. We also feel rewarded because we then know we’ve elevated ourselves in the eyes of another, on top of growing personally.
It’s this desire to make an impression on our peers that makes external accountability one of the most successful type of accountability. In fact, research shows, when you write down your goal and share it with someone close to you, your chances of success improve by 42%.
This is a great strategy, and we should use it to our advantage by involving family members, best friends, partners and colleagues in our goal-setting.
Personally, with my goal of projecting calmness, my confidants have also been a great support in providing candid feedback and gentle reminders. But even more importantly, they praise me when my energy levels are in the right place.
Where external accountability is making a commitment to others, internal accountability is making a commitment to yourself. Sadly, it’s usually the less successful of the two. But why exactly does it fail us?
Personally, I believe we should be placing the same value on promises to ourselves as we do when we make them to other people. At the end of the day, my word is my word – no matter who I’m giving it to. But the reality is, we tend to demote our own goals and commitments to the bottom of the list or make excuses to ourselves that just wouldn’t fly with our boss or friends.
So, if you know your self-accountability is low, try drawing on some of the motivating forces we know exist with external accountability to improve your self-drive.
Reward yourself for trying
Up the ante on the rewards side by treating yourself whenever you feel you’ve earned it – not just once you actually reach your goal. Celebrating effort and progress is vital to maintaining momentum. For me, projecting calmness remains a work in progress, but I’ve been sure to reward myself while on this journey towards creating a better habit. I focus on rewards that complement my ultimate goal, such as massages, a quiet daytime walk outside, or a night at the movies with girlfriends. Not only do these reinforce the progress I’ve made, but they’re also good ways to relax and replenish my soul.
Revisit the commitment regularly
Learn to be your own cheerleader by flooding yourself with positive encouragement in the same way your peers would. A great technique is to write your commitment down and make diary notes of all the ways you’re working towards achieving it. Try to do this regularly, so you can look back and see how far you’ve come – or, so you can find a few reminders when you need to try again. Keep telling yourself “Hang in there, it will be worth it.” Change takes time, so think of your efforts as an ongoing journey and cheerlead yourself accordingly.
Recognise value in the journey
Above all, think about self-improvement and personal growth as rewards in themselves. We do need to keep pushing outside our comfort zones, so praise the process of change and enjoy working towards the best version of yourself.
The feeling of self-satisfaction you discover along the way – and the snowball effect this has on your confidence, self-efficacy and optimism – is exceptionally powerful. And that in itself makes it all worth it.
Originally published on www.onelife.aiavitality.com.au on October 29, 2018.
Alisa Camplin is an Olympic Gold Medalist, in-demand Keynote Speaker, Corporate Ambassador, and Human Performance Consultant who delivers results-driven Resilience and Human Performance Training and Development Programs. Connect with Alisa.