To Stay Motivated, Think Like a Scientist

M.J. Ryan by M.J. Ryan | January 19th, 2009 | No Comments
topic: Personal Growth

Whatever you are working on, you will not do it perfectly. The trick is not to never goof up, but not to turn goof-ups into give-ups. In order to keep motivated and not give up when you blow it, it’s important that you use what you learn from your tracking — I said I would exercise 30 minutes every day and I haven’t done it once — as information, not as the chance for self-punishment. The more you criticize, blame, shame or guilt-trip yourself, the less well you’ll do.

People who succeed at change think like a scientist.

Scientists don’t beat themselves up for what they discover. They simply observe, track the results, and make fact-based conclusions regarding next actions on the basis of what they discovered. Emulate Thomas Edison, the creator of the light bulb and many other 20th-century inventions. As I described in my book The Power of Patience, when someone categorized his 700 attempts at the light bulb as failures, he said, “I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I eliminate all the ways that don’t work, I will find the one that will.” It took him 1,000 tries.

The experimental approach can work for you too, as long as you take what you’re learning as information that will help you do better in the future — “Oh, I thought if I tried exercising in the morning it would be easier to do. But I did it only twice this week. What if I shift to the end of the day? Let’s see how I do next week.” The more objective you can remain and the more you are willing to see your efforts as experiments, the less you will fall into the slough of perfectionism or despair that trap so many would-be resolvers and habit-changers into giving up.

To Try: Today, notice how you’ve done so far without blame or shame.

Do you need to adjust what you’re doing to create greater success?

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logoFrom the Intent online learning series Achieving Your Intent: Week 3, Staying Motivated. Just joining the learning series? Start at the beginning.


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