Forget everything you know about motivation.   It seems all of the strategies we’ve used to motivate ourselves to eat healthy, workout or to simply achieve a goal are wrong.  They won’t actually motivate us but rather backfire.  New studies show what does motivate us is the opposite of what we think will motivate us. Dr. David Gard, professor at San Francisco State University, along with a few colleagues has figured out what will actually motivate us. A few of his approaches may not seem plausible although scientifically proven.

Rewards for Healthy Behavior

We’ve all done it; told ourselves we will buy that dress or a new shade of lipstick if we lose 10lbs, or commit to working out every day, or skip dessert each night for a month. Treating ourselves after reaching a goal or sticking with a new routine has always been seen as a great motivation. While it seems like the right thing to do, it actually focuses our attention on the prize, not on the process that gets to the prize. If we give up the little gifts to ourselves and focus on the results of a new routine, we will come to appreciate the extra energy and the smaller waist we get from doing the work.  Appreciating the results is the real motivator, teasing ourselves with trinkets only zaps you of motivation.

Skip Plan B

Oh, the many ways we barter with ourselves for motivation.  Who hasn’t said to themselves it’s ok to miss a Body Combat class because there’s always yoga on Saturday?  Rather than commit to the Body Combat class, we allow ourselves to settle for Plan B. Plan B is too enticing and serves as an easy excuse to skip a session.  Stop it! Commit to your class and workout schedule without having a fall back option. You will be more likely to stick to it.

Don’t Share Your Plans

We’ve all heard how important it is to share with a friend what our intentions are in an effort to keep us accountable.  It seems telling our friends don’t really keep us accountable or serve as valid motivation. Simply telling your social media following you will attend a Spin class is as good as actually taking the class.  It doesn’t actually make you accountable. Instead, don’t tell anyone of your intentions, just go do it. If you must post to social media about your workout, commit to posting a photo of yourself post workout to keep yourself accountable.

Next time you are looking for ways to motivate yourself, remember it’s not about Plan B, gifts or informing your friends of your workout. It’s about getting out there and doing the work. Let the results serve as your motivation.