Sparking to a Better You

Have you ever found yourself lacking the motivation to succeed at something you really need to excel? For example, working out, eating healthy, or just motivation to do something good in your life. One way to motivate one is to reward you in some manner.

On SparkPeople (a free weight-loss website) there exists a SparkTeam called Pennies for Pampering. What it encourages is setting a daily goal for one week and rewarding yourself with a penny for each goal met. The end result is to be funds to reward you with some form of pampering, whether it is a manicure/pedicure, facial, or getting hair done.

Sparkpeople in itself is a reward based system using points. You earn points just for logging on everyday. You earn points for logging food or exercise. You earn points for posting a status update. You earn points for just doing. And, you can earn awards for spark streaks, such as logging in daily for a month, achieving a number of fitness minutes a month, or just drinking 8 ounces of water a day.

To me, it seems like a great concept in how it sparks a goal (no pun intended) for one to achieve and put a tangible reward at the end of the goal period. I don't know about you, but I am motivated more by a reward system than a disciplinary system. A disciplinary system just leaves me feeling more depressed and pushes me further into a black hole.

For me, as a sufferer of bipolar disorder, the act of just getting out of bed in the morning is goal I need to achieve and seek motivation. You'd think the goal of keeping my job or getting paid would be enough, but there are days where the depression is so set in that getting out of bed is the most torturous thing that could happen. But it is rewarding that I can accomplish many things in the day if I just can get myself out of bed. Of course, many of you that don't struggle with depression may find that the cooler mornings are torturous to get out of bed alone.

So, for me, I'm setting a goal for myself. $1 for each day I get out of bed on time (not hitting that snooze bar for an hour) and $1 for each day that I put in a full 8 hour day at work. And finally, end the week by awarding myself $20 at the end of the week for achieving all of the above for a full 5 day week of good behavior. At the end of the month, I can reward myself using those funds earned throughout the month with some sort of pampering, a trip somewhere, or a gift to myself. Things like a trip to a cozy little town with unique shops for a weekend, a new comforter to dress up my bed and entice a good night's rest, or an experience of some sort like rock climbing.

I've even gone as far as thinking about buying a calendar and posting gold stars on days I achieve my goals, just like those we used to receive when we were in grade school. I really loved those gold stars! I would do just about anything to receive those little, shiny, tin foil stickers! (I've always been a sucker for bling! LOL!) Just the thought of a calendar full of those stars makes me feel giddy inside!

Whatever the motivation or the reason for the motivation, the reward at the end that matters most is achieving a positive change in lifestyle. Whether it be working out 30 minutes a day for a month, eating within your calorie range for a full month, or for those like me, just getting out of bed in the morning for a full month. They say it takes 28 days to make a habit. Why not take those 28 days to make it a healthy habit.