Top 20 Motivation Hacks – #7

Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on twitter or identica.

Quick intro: I first intended this Top 20 list to be in a single post, but I decided that breaking them into separate posts would allow me to concentrate on each a little more. So, I present my list of the Top 20 Motivation Hacks.

A number of people have commented that I must be dedicated to achieve some of the goals I’m going for: exercise, frugality, organization, healthy eating, etc. Well, I don’t believe in someone being naturally “dedicated” … it’s all a matter of motivation. You can achieve anything if you motivate yourself enough.

Motivation Hack #7: Become aware of your urges to quit, and be prepared for them.

One of the things I discovered as I was quitting smoking was that when I had an urge to smoke a cigarette, I didn’t really think about it. I wasn’t aware of the urge on a conscious level. And so I would automatically start justifying the urge, without realizing I was doing it.

And so I discovered that one of the most powerful things I could do was to start being more conscious of those urges. A good exercise is to go through the day with a little piece of paper and put a tally mark for each time you get an urge. It simply makes you aware of the urges.

This can work for any goal, because with any goal, we get urges to quit, at least for that moment. We might not feel like running today, so we automatically begin justifying it to ourselves. We might feel a lag in motivation about spending (and spending urges are strong!) or about dieting or anything else really. Become aware of those urges, those moments of crisis that are mostly unconscious.

The next step is to have a plan for when those urges hit. Plan for it beforehand, and write down your plan, because once those urges hit, you will not feel like coming up with a plan. It will be too late, usually. The plan could include such tactics found in the other motivation hacks here on this site, such as “just get started” or “remind yourself of your powerful reasons”. My strategy for quitting smoking was to take deep breaths and drink water, and never have a cigarette without goiing on the quit smoking forum and posting about my urges first. Then, if that didn’t work, I would first enlist the help of my supporters (my wife and mom). I made it very difficult to have that cigarette. And that worked for me. I suggest you have a similar plan, with a series of obstacles to get in your way.

First be aware of those urges. We all have them, and it’s no shame to get them. Just know that they are happening. And have a plan to conquer them. They are strong, but not unbeatable.

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