The new year and last Sunday’s links post have me thinking about what motivates people, more specifically what motivates me. Why do people make New Years resolutions as opposed to, as one of my favorite people to Facebook stalk pointed out, not make March resolutions? What is it about the power of January 1 that makes people think they will accomplish things they’ve failed do throughout 2011, or even throughout their whole lives?
I always make New Years resolutions. And I almost always keep them. This isn’t because of my superior willpower. Instead, I attribute it to my ability to choose either very doable, common sense resolutions or a resolution so vague you have to try not to keep it. To give you an idea of where I’m going… 2005 = answering my cell more. 2009 = drink more water. 2011 = floss and never look back.
When I get specific and think about what I really want to accomplish, whether it be in a year, a month or a weekend, I tend to over promise. Basically I make a list so long that I set myself up for failure. I will write a novel, get a job, and learn to play the guitar this January, then in February… Then I don’t accomplish any of these things and feel like a total jerk.
This is part of the reason I have a really hard time with setting specific goals when it comes to reading or writing. I abysmally failed my goodreads challenge last year and have extended my “deadline” for finishing the first draft of my current writing project too many times to remember. I think originally it would be finished sometime in 2009 (I didn’t actually start typing words until October 2010).
So if tough love and deadlines don’t work, what does? If I knew, I certainly be charging you all for that information. When I wasn’t working last fall, I thought I stumbled onto this secret of all writing/weight loss goals. I only allowed myself to eat calories that corresponded to the number of words I’d written so far that day. I had to write 300 words before I could eat my cheerios. Did it work? Kind of, I wrote about 80 pages and lost 5 pounds. Was it crazy? Yes, but I felt much better about myself after reading about a writer who makes himself write 1,000 words before he goes to the bathroom every morning. Talk about motivation.
If anyone else has a good method or funny story about how to stay motivated let me know. Preferably one that doesn’t lead to you almost fainting in your Jazzercise class.