"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. -Jim Ryun
My coaching client, Jeff, had a goal to exercise three times per week. He said that when he works out he feels better, has more energy and feels more fulfilled throughout the day. The problem was that Jeff was not working out! His job as a financial planner took up much of his time and he always seemed to have an excuse for not making it to the health club. I could sense the frustration in his voice during our coaching sessions whenever he told me that another week went by without a workout.
I first asked Jeff the reasons he wanted to work out. He gave me a list of all the reasons and benefits and then he said, "I just don’t seem to have the discipline in the moment. When I have the chance to go to the gym, I usually find something else to do, like call a couple clients or organize my office."
I then asked him, "What association or organization has a mission that you just don’t believe in?" Somewhat curious, he told me that he didn’t support the mission of a certain organization. Then came the challenge. I said, "Okay Jeff, let’s set up a fine. If you don’t get three workouts in by next week’s coaching session, will you mail a check to that organization for $500?" There was silence on the other end of the phone. He knew what I was doing. He knew this was not only a test to see how committed he was to exercising, but also a way to challenge him to take action on a goal that had been eluding him for months.
Finally, Jeff said, "Yes, I accept that challenge." The next week he came to his coaching call excited and inspired. He got in three great workouts and he felt energized! The challenge worked. He asked to keep the same challenge going for the next week, and then the next week and so on. The fine was just the push Jeff needed. The momentum he created by developing the habit of three workouts per week continued, and after a few weeks he didn’t even need the fine anymore (though he chose to keep it just in case).
How could you use a challenge like this in your life? What is an activity that would benefit you, but you keep putting it off? Use the challenge of a fine with one of your success partners and watch how action and momentum are created.