Over on Leo’s uber popular Zen Habits blog I’ve read that you should let go of having goals and just live your life! That if you create good habits you don’t need to mess with (even distract yourself with) tracking everything you do – every bite you eat, every mile you run, every book you’ve read from that long daunting list of books you want to (think you should?) read before you die.
I see the merit in this point, but Isaiah and I needed some encouragement to get back into a regular exercise routine. So I came up with the Pay Me Plan. For every week we work out 5+ times for 30+ minutes a shot, we each get $5 deposited into our imaginary Pay Me account. (Which is just a simple spreadsheet although wouldn’t a chart where we could put gold stars by our names be so much neater?)
This is our fun, spend-without-guilt-on-whatever-you-want-but-can’t-quite-justify money! Basically it’s like when a kid receives an allowance only after they do their chores. And by golly, it’s working! I have more energy to get to my workouts and a solid feeling of commitment. And if we ever miss a week we won’t have to beat ourselves up. We just won’t get the money and since I already have quite the wish list picked out, I know I don’t want to miss out on too many five dolla dolla bills, y’all.
We chose an amount that gives us motivation, but nothing that will break our budget. I think this kind of bribery works for us because Isaiah and I are frugal, especially since we traded two full-time salaries for a Peace Corps stipend. Other ideas include earning minutes for watching TV or checking Facebook or you could earn money to give a babysitter so you get some time to yourself!
Would it be better if we worked out consistently because we know it’s a non-optional part of a healthy lifestyle? Yes. For sure. And that knowledge does nudge us in the right direction. Hopefully someday exercising will be a no-brainer habit and we won’t need to do this tracking, but for now this is working and it’s fun!
What motivates you? Are you making any resolutions this new year?