Motivation is hard.
Exercising is hard.
Getting the motivation to exercise is like, exponentially hard.
We try all kinds of different things to try to get ourselves to do what we don’t want to do – rewards, punishments, etc. but those rarely work.
The only thing we can really do is to get ourselves to want to do it…. for ourselves!
Which means we have to find ways to make it fun, enjoyable, or at least trick ourselves into it…
Which is where the “chain calendar” comes in!
I am not usually one to trick myself into anything, but this strangely works and if you’re anything close to OCD then look out!
The chain calendar is this: a yearly calendar on which you write what it is you want to do every day, and for how long. Then every day you do it, mark it on the calendar. One day turns into a few, which (if you keep going), turns into a week, and a few weeks, and months!
It is strangely addicting seeing the “chain” of marks, and after a while you won’t want to break the chain!
The concept comes from Jerry Seinfeld, in an interview where he was discussing his success as a comedian where describes writing jokes every day, and the calendar chain:
After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.
Wii-Fit integrates the chain calendar with the body tests. You get to stamp on your virtual calendar every day that you do a body test.
Pedometer apps integrates the chain calendar into their websites by displaying monthly step views to show you when you did the best, etc.
There’s a great Android app called MyChain that lets you add more than one category to it, and uses widget to mark off every day that you do the activities with a running total showing your chain which is pretty neat!
World of Warcraft uses the daily chain system with their Daily Quests – quests which you do daily (duh) to earn something towards a greater reward some day. Sound familiar? Somehow I tried telling myself that I should think of my chores as Daily Quests but I just can’t seem to get that to work for me. Sigh.
But so the concept is out there and isn’t totally new, and it’s most effective if you actually have your own calendar, with your own goals, in front of you every day, marking it off yourself with your own hands.
You can use the in-game or in-app calendars, but if you really want to get the full effect then write up a calendar yourself on paper and hang it on your wall (or there’s pre-made yearly whiteboard calendars on Amazon) and mark them in yourself! It’s really so motivating and satisfying and feels good to look at every day!
Don’t forget your markers 😉