How do you motivate yourself?

How indeed. We’ve all got different goals, whether they’re freshly made for the new year, long-term, or at least on our list for the future. And we’ve all got different ways of motivating ourselves to achieve those goals.

I personally like to see things written down. I like to track, plan, and check off accomplishments. That way, I can see my progress linearly, which motivates me to be proud of myself and keep going. Usually this is in the form of a monthly planner, or individual daily lists, but in the past that’s worked only for a while. I want something that will show my progress over a long period of time. So I made this:

My giant calendar

This is my year-long giant calendar. I’m hoping that by being able to visual a year’s worth of competition deadlines, job application deadlines, and achievements in exercise and strength training, blogging, personal research, and reading, I will muster the motivation to stick with my plan of action and get things done without procrastinating (too much). You can already see a few things written in red; these are a few composition deadlines, and some teacher certification program deadlines. I plan to go out and get some small stickers to demarcate when I  achieve my goals, long-term and short-term.

I’ve got my iphone calendar for things like when I’m working, or when concerts and shows are, and things like that. But this hand-made calendar will incorporate a few other things:

1) When I exercise. I used to be a part of a gym when I was at school, and I loved it. Living far from a gym and having a relatively low income has made me really lazy. But just yesterday I did free weights at home for an hour while watching TV and loved it! I wrote down my routine so I can do it three times a week. Each time I do it, I get a sticker. (Let me just reiterate that the sticker is a visual motivator… and not a prize for having exercised… although stickers are very, very awesome.) Additionally, I want to hit the gym with my mom at least twice a week. And finally, I want to track what I eat every day until my birthday in March.

2) When I blog. Do you know how many ideas I’ve got for blog posts? Well, you will! My goal is to blog at least once a week. I love writing. I love music, arts, and society. It only makes sense to make the time to write! Sticker for that.

3) Deadlines for composition competitions. There are a few coming up I’m hoping to make. Besides that, I’ve been encouraged many times by professors to enter competitions. If I want to get better at my craft, I have to practice it. What better way than to commit to a deadline- one that’s imposed by someone other than myself, so I can’t change it!

4) Songwriting. My dad recently commented that my sister and I should sing something and put it on youtube. I’d been considering that, but I don’t want my songs to have a visual element to them. That and I’m a perfectionist. What I put online has to be good. If you’ve seen my post about The Voice, you know what I’m talking about. I’ve written songs before, but years and years ago when I wanted to start a band (“Soda Pop”) and film my own musical version of Boys Town (but with girls, since all the kids in my family were girls). I want to write them again. It’s my goal to write and record one song a month, starting in February.

5) Composing. Deadline aren’t enough for me, especially since I’ve got so many ideas for pieces that simply don’t fit any competition restrictions. So I’m tracking how often I sit down and improvise or write. Guess who has two parents who work during school hours? Me! I’ve got the house to myself in the mornings, and when I’m not working, I want to be doing a lot of writing. I’ve had a great piece brewing since 2006. That’s getting done this year, preferably by March so I can show it to my old band directors.

I’ll post pictures of my calendar as it fills with stickers. I’m excited to be busy, successful, and feeling great about myself. That’s its own reward for me.

How do you motivate yourself?

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