Max Your Motivation

Photography by: Stephanie Rausser
Max Your Motivation

Mostly D’s: “The Adventurer”
Ever the thrill-seeker, you have yet to meet a challenge or risk you didn’t relish—and attack with unbridled abandon. The bonus is that you’re already motivated to change, because change is exciting. If you want to lose weight, you’ll probably do an extreme, weeklong lemonade cleanse or no-carb diet. If you’re trying to quit smoking or cut back on alcohol, your plan might be to smoke an entire carton of cigarettes or drink till you pass out—never to touch that stuff again. Your impulsivity can occasionally get you into trouble, too: “This is the sort of person who’s likely to wake up next to someone whose name she can barely remember,” says Markman. Of course, because you’re turned off by anything predictable or passé, you may grow restless while embarking on rote behavior change and simply move on to something more exciting.

Transform yourself: To keep the thrill of victory alive, break down your goal into stimulating little chunks. Each milestone should be monumental— or at least new and surprising. In many cases, this is already required in order to make significant transformations. For instance, the body quickly adapts to changes in diet and exercise, so if you’re trying to re-shape your physique, the more you switch it up, the better. When the task at hand isn’t exciting enough, you can still keep yourself motivated by creating thrilling rewards, says Anne Nedrow, M.D., director of integrative medicine for Oregon Health and Science University’s Center for Women’s Health in Portland. It has certainly worked well for Heather Hansen O’Neill, 41, of Danbury, Conn.: “I run my own business and some aspects of the job, like bookkeeping, bore me immensely. So I’ll tell myself that if I get my books in order, I can go skydiving, motorcycling, rock climbing or flying on the trapeze—all of which I’ve done!”

Max your motivation: Counterintuitive (and potentially cringe-worthy) as this may sound, you must occasionally acknowledge that achieving your goals is the ultimate thrill—and that getting there might require you to slow down and enjoy the ride. Thwart impulsivity by counting to 10 before making decisions that might threaten your success (or health in general), suggests Markman. “Usually it’s best to be in relationships with people who are going to join you on your thrilling adventures, but occasionally it might be even better to have a person nearby who errs on the side of caution and can give you a reality check,” he adds. And get some sleep now and then— if for no other reason than it will triple the extreme amounts of energy you already have.