How Are You Gonna Keep Up the Momentum?

Each of us sustains motivation differently. So one of the keys to creating a lasting change in ourselves is to understand what will get us out of bed to do what we promised ourselves and how to keep that motivation alive for as long as needed.

My sister is, as my mother used to say, “a social butterfly.” It’s easy for her to exercise when she has someone to do it with because of her desire to connect to others. Dolores is achievement-oriented. These people need very challenging goals that are strictly measured and constantly revised upward as each goal is met. If she’s trying to exercise regularly, she needs to keep upping the ante on herself somehow to stay motivated. Like do a 5K race. Then a 10K. Then a triathlon. Ana is motivated by the desire to win. You can get her to learn or do anything by making it a contest in which she can beat someone else.

But those aren’t the only momentum creators on the planet. My friend Drew went from a 95-pound weakling type to a buffed-out stud because “I wanted to prove to myself and others that I could.” Robin keeps to her diet and exercise plan by “remembering how good eating right and working out makes me feel.”

As for me, I keep myself going through my desire for personal integrity. I’ve developed positive attitudes as well as the habit of exercise because I promised myself I would and I don’t want to break my word. For folks like me, making vows or commitments can be highly effective.

Do you know what works for you to keep your momentum? Knowing what’s true for you is crucial. Otherwise, you may end up following someone else’s idea of what should work and not finding much success. Here’s an example: one of the standard suggestions for keeping momentum is to reward yourself along the way. I personally am not motivated by rewards at all (nor would pasting pictures of skinny models in bikinis on the refrigerator do anything for me except make me depressed). There are no “one size fits all” solutions.

To Try: What helps you keep going? If you’re not sure, experiment. Try one of the methods I suggested today. If that holds no interest, try another. Ask a friend what works for her. But remember that just because it works for her doesn’t mean it will for you. Your job is to discover your most effective momentum creator.

In this monthlong learning series, M.J. Ryan, author of the best-selling book This Year I Will…: How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True, will take you through four steps, each lasting one week, to help you figure out what your most important intentions are and give you the tools to make each a reality. Just joining the learning series? Go here to start at the beginning. provides content and community for who you aspire to be–personally, socially and globally.


ANA MARIJA R4 years ago

Thank you for the article.

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Harriett M.
Harriett M6 years ago

makes sense!

Estella Ameigh
Estella Ameigh8 years ago


Loretta K.
Loretta K8 years ago

Rewards along the way to keep myself focused works best for me.

Ellen Cope
Ellen Cope8 years ago

Thanks! I feel like I'm a mix of a few motivators..

Vural K.
Past Member 8 years ago


Mothers Vibe
Mothers Vibe9 years ago

You can find the lack of focus in complete silence of nature:)

Theresa P.
Theresa Parrish9 years ago

I need to constantly remind myself of my intention by having books, magazine articles, etc. nearby, refreshing my brain constantly of what I am doing and why. It also helps to talk about what I'm doing with others.