Three Ways to Motivate Yourself Again (and Create What You’d Like to Have Happen)


Everybody has something they wish they would do.

Every time I go for a walk with my friend Lisa, she talks about the clutter in her living room. As she talks, she makes a plan. Sometimes she gets quite excited about her plan, but in a day or two it turns to mush.

Like Lisa, we all want to get going on our plans. We all want to follow through. But despite our desire, we don’t.

What is the quickest way to motivate yourself to follow through on a plan?

Here are three techniques I’ve used over the years.

  1. Start well.
  2. Take small actions that are easy to do.
  3. Have a rule in place.

1 – Start well.

After my bariatric surgery, I knew I would need to make dramatic changes in how I thought, felt, and lived, if I wanted my surgery to work.

One of the things I decided to do, which has served me well for more than 17 years now, is to start my day with an “Hour of Power” á la Anthony Robbins.

Mine includes a good stretch upon awakening, about 20 minutes of motivational or inspirational reading (not on an electronic device), a walk around the block while connecting with my breath and enjoying the nature around me, and a breakfast that helps me feel well and energetic. (This morning it was butternut squash soup with shredded chicken.)

I encourage you to make your “Hour of Power” your own. Be creative. What will awaken your soul? What will help you to be happy and active?

2 – Take small actions that are easy to do.

I didn’t start with a walk around the block. After my WLS, at 331 pounds, it was an effort to walk down the hallway from my bedroom to the living room. I began with the small action of putting on my sneakers every morning. I kept them by my chair in the living room, so they were easy to access.

Realizing motivation would follow my actions, I built on my sneaker ritual. After a week or so of wearing sneakers, I walked around the circle in my house. I went from the living room to the dining room, through the kitchen, into the hall, and back into the living room – once.

On a day when I didn’t feel motivated, I retreated to just putting on my sneakers. On a day when I felt super-motivated, I did the circle twice. And so it went.

This morning, Biscuit and I walked about 2 miles, effortlessly. We’ll do that again this afternoon. It’s become a way of life. A few times over the years I’ve suffered health tsunamis that thoroughly knocked me over and swept me away.

What did I do as I struggled to find my motivation? I put on my sneakers. Eventually, I began to walk the circle in my house. Then I went outdoors to walk. It’s what I do.

3 – Have a rule in place.

At my weekly meet-up with a group of wellness coaches, Kendra reports in like this: “It was a beautiful week. I walked every day.” Or “It rained Wednesday, so I walked 6 days this week.”

Can you guess her rule?

Kendra walks every day if it’s not raining. If it’s cold, she walks. If it’s windy, she walks. If it’s sunny, she walks.

And what does she do if it’s raining? Well, she’s home sipping hot tea and reading with her cats.

I like this type of rule. When I got to the point after surgery that I could walk some distance, my friend Julia and I went for daily, evening walks. Our rule was: if it’s 8 PM and we’re both free, we walk. We knew we were free most evenings at that time, because our kids were in bed by 8 PM.

Sure, occasionally, one of us couldn’t walk on a given evening, so we didn’t. (That’s when you would find me home sipping hot peppermint tea and reading a magazine.) But most of the time, we walked. And we grew strong. Our stamina improved considerably, and all that talking we did while we went walking was supportive and fun.

Eventually I moved away, but I still have a rule in place. If it’s not raining, I’m walking. And to make the walk just a little more irresistible, I adopted an energetic dog 🙂

I have other rules: Chew slowly. Always stand up when I notice I’ve been sitting awhile. Measure my cheese. If I know I need something, ask for it ASAP – before I lose my nerve or dismiss it.

In summary:

1 – Start well. Begin your day with rituals and practices that support your well-being.

2 – Take small actions that are easy to do. And build on them.

3 – Have a rule in place. Rules should begin with, “I always….”

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