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How to find your motivation

Whether it's committing to an evening workout, flossing twice a day or even making your bed in the morning, developing healthy habits or behaviours can help increase a sense of wellbeing and happiness. Still, in these cold, dreary months, it's often hard to find the motivation to complete a task or turn a new activity into a regular practice.
 
Dr. Neil Levitsky, Psychiatrist, North York General Hospital
 
Dr. Neil Levitsky, Psychiatrist, North York General Hospital
 
The Pulse spoke with Dr. Neil Levitsky, a psychiatrist at North York General Hospital, on how to rev your motivation into high gear:

  1. Set up reminders. Whether it is post-it notes on your mirror or a new app on your iPhone, a visual cue can be the spark to the flame. “It's a signal to your brain to act,” says Dr. Levitsky. “At the very least, a reminder triggers an awareness of what needs to be done.”

  2. Schedule tasks. Planning your day in advance helps to ensure tasks get done. “Have an idea of what you'd like to accomplish each day and allot a certain time to complete this task,” says Dr. Levitsky. “A daily schedule can also help you feel more organized and less anxious.”

  3. Set up a reward. Humans respond to the carrot instead of the stick. “You're more likely to complete a task if a reward follows the action,” says Dr. Levitsky. For instance, if you're having a hard time making your bed in the morning, following the action with your morning cup of coffee as a reward is a strong motivator.

  4. Have a five-minute rule. Anything is manageable for five minutes, according to Dr. Levitsky. It's actually starting the task that is the most daunting. “Once you take action, often you feel like doing it more,” he says.

  5. Let go of perfection. Perfectionism is a motivation killer; putting pressure on yourself is a surefire way to ensure you'll avoid the task. “Go easy on yourself and you'll find it easier to complete tasks,” says Dr. Levitsky. “Without an expectation of perfection, you may even enjoy the task at hand.”

A visual reminder triggers an awareness of what needs to be done.


December 7, 2016

This article first appeared in the
December 2016-January 2017 issue of The Pulse, North York General Hospital's community newsletter. Subscribe to receive 10 issues per year.

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