When I was reading The Happiness Project, a comment that Gretchen made several times caught my attention. She said that she likes to receive gold stars. That is to say, when she does something, she likes to receive some sort of feedback or at the very least acknowledgment, perhaps something as simple as hearing “great job!” after cleaning the kitchen. I chuckled when I read this as I was able to completely relate. I’m guessing that many of us can as well. There’s no denying that it’s often nice to get a pat on the back for our accomplishments.
This idea can be applied to our goals and resolutions as well. Giving yourself some manner of reinforcement can provide the necessary motivation to keep making progress. For me, something as simple as keeping a log of what I’m doing is enough to motivate me. I love to ride my bicycle in the summer and in the past, I typically managed it two or three times a week. But since I began keeping track of my mileage, I noticed that I was riding more – almost every day in fact. Seeing a notebook full of my mileage statistics seemed to give me extra motivation. The same thing worked for me when I quit smoking. I literally put a gold star on the calendar for each day that I went without a cigarette (I changed it to smiley faces after I ran out of stars). Even though it was silly reinforcement, it was reinforcement nonetheless. I find that without reinforcement, we tend to give up.
This can be applied to hobbies as well. I have an iPhone app called “Level Me Up!” which I use for my harp practice. I set the timer whenever I sit down at my harp — the eventual goal being 10,000 hours of practice (the idea is that if you do anything for 10,000 hours, you will inevitably become an expert at it). After each increment of 20 or so hours, you move up to the next level – and receive a round of applause when you do. It’s a cute little app but effective. It makes me want to attain that milestone of 10,000 hours so I keep going. I love the feeling of moving closer to that goal, level by level, applause by applause.
Why not give it a try? Start keeping track of your progress and your milestones. See how it changes your motivation. Those little gold stars just might help you to keep your New Year Resolutions.
Photo courtesy of stevendepolo