Maintaining Interest

Are we alike? Sometimes I feel energetic and enthusiastic when trying out a new behavior (substitute exercise or change in eating habits) but lose steam after a while. How about getting involved with a project but abandoning it before it’s finished? Though I understand the importance of what I am doing, laziness or lack of willpower creep in to drain my enthusiasm. This makes me feel as if what I’m doing is a burden, and I am even less likely to complete the task or adhere to the new program.

Let me give you an example. I was out of town for a couple of weeks. Before that time, I was routinely at the gym three times a week, rain or snow, heat or cold. A 5:00 wake up was just fine. I rolled ut of bed, ready to go. Didn’t matter if it was dark outside or bright sunshine. I was up and ready to move.

Fast forward to my return from my trip. 5:00 a.m. came and went, and all I did was lift one eyelid and check the time. Didn’t even feel guilty about still being cozy in my bed. Sure, I got up to walk the dog around 6:00, but that didn’t help my lack of enthusiasm for a good workout.

Then, I began to remember all of the benefits of my workout. When the rowing machine was my friend, my back didn’t hurt when I was on the computer. I had more energy and felt better after going to the gym. I was also proud of myself for sticking to my schedule. And most of all, I remembered that if I got up early in the morning, my brain was still asleep. I could get to the gym, and by the time I finished my brain was just beginning to wake. (Works every time). I was back on track.

We all know that everything in life takes a bit of work, time and effort to complete. Short spurts of enthusiasm won’t see us through to the end. But what to do when interest and attention and focus wanes?

  • Set your intention. Decide that whatever you want to achieve is a top priority for you, that you will focus on its Make out a schedule that will work for you. In my case, it was getting to the gym before the day began. (No excuses).
  • Celebrate the little victories. There was a time when I was a couch potato. Cholesterol levels went through the roof and pants were very tight as I gained weight. The turning point was when my doctor recommended Lipitor. A quarter mile hill next to the house beckoned, and I began to walk. That first climb was a 60-minute struggle, with four long pauses as I went up the hill. And I decided that anything less than an hour was a victory. The next day, I celebrated 59 minutes. That was 11-12 years ago, and now the Duff and I take a morning constitutional of about 3 miles. I’m on a roll.
  • Once you decide on a goal, go with it. Even after you lose enthusiasm, keep your eye on the prize. Want to go on a 20-mile hike? Start small, then work up to it. Even if you don’t feel focused on a given day, the positive will carry you through until the end.
  • Remind yourself of the benefits. Decided to enjoy nature more? Reflect on how beautiful the scenery is as you revel in the changing seasons. Want to finish clearing out the storage unit before the snow flies? Keep the end result in mind, and you will continue to be enthused and motivated. Your goal will be accomplished in no time at all.

I’m curious: how do you awaken your enthusiasm? Leave your comments below.

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