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Stay Motivated for Improved Health

September 2012

Karen Ensle EdD, RD, FADA, CFCS
Family & Community Health Sciences Educator
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County

What are the secrets of getting and staying motivated? Have you ever wondered how people that you admire stay enthusiastic about their life, stimulated to make positive health changes, and pumped up to improve their diet and lifestyle? Invest in yourself by seeking ways to renew your spirit, expand your knowledge base, and make positive behavior changes to benefit yourself and others.

Don’t know how to get started? Try the following ideas to stay motivated to achieve your goals. Remember that every step you take, no matter how small, will make a positive difference.

Invest in Yourself. Build your personal value by taking the time to get a degree or training that will help you climb the ladder of success. Go to seminars, listen to tapes, and read books that give you tools to put into practice what you have learned.

Set Specific Goals. Give yourself something to achieve. Start with simple goals and then progress to longer range goals. This will help you get to the finish line without exhausting yourself. Achieving goals will help you feel accomplished and positive.

Reward Yourself. Right from the beginning, agree on some deliverables which will justify yourself getting rewarded. As soon as you get one of the planned results, take time to reward yourself in some way. Take a few minutes to savor the good feelings that come from achieving your goals. This type of internal reward can help you make a long-term commitment to continue to reach out to plan new health goals.

Postpone Laziness. Every time you put something off for later, you move one step down from your goal. Therefore, it is important to stop making excuses and “go for it.” Life is a journey and it can be tough; setbacks are bound to happen, but take a long term view. Be patient. Embrace the struggle. Perseverance matters.

Don't Give Up. You can't control all things about your life. If you experience a little lull in your motivation levels, don't give up. You still have a big goal that remains to be achieved. Don't lose sight of the long-term goal and how badly you want to achieve it. Motivation, like learning, never ceases and is a lot of hard work.

Make it Fun. When it comes to motivation, attitude is everything. Different people may have completely opposite feelings towards the same task: some will hate it, others will love it. Find ways to make it interesting; have fun and the positive environment will lead to better results.

Take Responsibility for your Own Results. How can we stay motivated if our success (or failure) is outside of our control? When things are within our control, we have power over the situation. And when we feel we have power, we can stay motivated.

Love What You Do. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm! Practice it on a daily basis and get excited about your life! Just remember that motivation comes from within, and only you can determine what is to become of your life.

Finally, a thought to ponder about successful people: "Success doesn't come to you - you go to it." -- Marva Collins