Operation Motivation: How to Move Toward Our Goals

What gets you moving?

Deadlines work for me. I don’t like letting others down and will do my utmost to fulfill my obligations, shoulder my responsibilities, and get the job done on time.

But what happens when no one’s waiting for me to finish a project or task?

My motivation falters, and my productivity drops.

Five weeks ago I received my osteoporosis diagnosis. I knew I could no longer sit idly by as my bones became less dense. I needed to take action.

I did. I joined Curves and began working out three days a week and walking on the others.

It takes 21 days to form a habit, so I was motivated by the goal of not missing a single day of exercise for the first three weeks on my new regimen.

Day 22 arrived. I’d met my goal. Suddenly working out didn’t seem quite as exciting. I walked into the gym, got into position on the first machine, and thought about going through the circuit week after week for the rest of my life. Suddenly something I’d been enjoying threatened to become drudgery.


I had an intermediate goal of showing improvement on the bone scan scheduled for November 2012, a long-term goal of arresting or even reversing my osteoporosis, and a somewhat nebulous goal of getting stronger. But I lacked a short-term goal.

I needed something to serve as motivation, and I found my answer in the Curves Smart program. What it entails is the use of a computer to monitor a member’s progress on each of the machines on the circuit. Once a participant is programmed into the system, she gets ongoing feedback on each machine as she operates it, including range of motion and energy expended. Green lights appear when a goal is being met, and yellow when it’s not. At the end of the workout, a member gets a report.

Upon learning of the program, I knew I’d found what I needed to spur me on. I signed up, got my cute little avatar, and set about working out.

I’d love to tell you that everything was wonderful from the outset, but I don’t like to tell tales. Well, I do like to write stories, but you get my point.

The first workout after signing up for Curves Smart was brutal. I was tripping over my tongue after completing only half of the first of two trips around the circuit. In the past I’d been able to dance jigs on the recovery boards stationed between each machine. That day I struggled to walk in place.

But I had a goal. Each time I got into position on a new machine, I knew I’d see those green or yellow lights, and I wanted to see green. Actually I wanted to see blinking green lights, which is what appears when I’ve exceeded my goal.

Once again I have a short-term goal and am motivated.

My intermediate goals have become twofold. When I reach the step machine with its heart rate monitor I don’t want to see red, which tells me I’m exceeding my target rate. At the end of my workout, when I go to the computer, I want all the dots on my cute little avatar lady (who looks as young as I feel =) to glow green, telling me I’ve met my goals for each muscle group indicated.

One week into Curves Smart I reached that milestone, and the entire room knew it because I let out a rather impressive squeal for a person my size. Now I go for green each time I workout. Having goals serves as motivation.

• • •

What motivates you?

Do you find that having goals gets you moving?

Are you a fan of setting short-, intermediate-, and long-term goals?


About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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17 Responses to Operation Motivation: How to Move Toward Our Goals

  1. I love hearing about Curves:) I found one nearby but haven’t decided to do it yet. But it is still in my mind. I need short term goals as well. I usually set my own and that does it but lately I haven’t.

  2. Goals definitely motivate me! So do deadlines!

  3. Suzanne Hartmann says:

    Excellent advice, Keli, and advice good for much more than just working out. I’ve been struggling with motivating myself to continue writing for a couple of years. Now that I’ve got a contract and my editor wants 2 sequels, I have an intermediate goal, but after reading this, I see that I’m still missing immediate goals. I’m not sure what will motivate me, but I just added to my prayer list that God would open my eyes to what will work for me.

  4. I’m definitely a goal setter. I hate to miss them. It’s why I work well on deadlines. I set goals to finish a ms. Not daily word counts but a total word count goal due on ________. I work my can off to meet that goal, and sometimes I compete with myself and try to accomplish my task ahead of schedule. When I have zero time frames, I fall short!

    We didn’t have green lights when I did Curves! I would have liked that! Keep us posted. 🙂

  5. Great point about hitting a wall on day 22. It’s good to hear the green program has boosted your motivation too. I like deadlines to help motivate me. This post helps me as I’m in the middle of establishing goals for 2012. It’s a balance of several goals and just like those green dots, I need some measures to make my plan for 2012 keep me motivated.

  6. Deadlines are great. Even if no one else sets them for me, I set them for myself, regarding my WIP. Then I tell a bunch of people so I have to be held to that goal. I have a friend who is also writing, so we keep each other accountable in our personal writing goals. That helps a lot. 🙂

  7. Wendy says:

    Yes, I love goals and set them often. I adjust my expectations when needed but setting them truly helps.
    ~ Wendy

  8. Donna Pyle says:

    Goals and deadlines – I definitely need them or I’d be wandering along the Seine River, eating French bread, and scribbling random thoughts into a journal. You know, the idealistic writer’s life. Short term goals serve as great motivation for me, as well. Congratulations on sticking with your commitment and goal to work out. Awesome!

  9. Keli, you are talking to a compulsive/obsessive personality … Type A list-maker and boy to I love my short and long term goals, broken down into interium measurable objectives 🙂 I write into my food journal to stay the course on my health program. I post notes on the bulletin board in front of the computer for my WIP and even have a “writing goals” document in my Word files to plan future writing projects. Goal setting motivates and moves my work along, it keeps me going to the pool to stay fit, it keeps me on track with pesky errands or the boring tasks I must do each week … and I would be lost without them. Set goals, write objectives and then remember to read the list and stick to the program.

    Congrats on your great progress at Curves. I can only tell you that it does not get easier, but one day you will wake and find you “need” to be there as badly as you used to need to veg-out 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Florence, I like your last thought. My hubby tells me I’ll reach a point where I can’t imagine not getting my daily exercise. While exercising each day has become a habit, it’s still a new one, and I’ve yet to attain such a deeply ingrained desire to workout. I look forward to the day that happens.

  10. Definitely a fan of all three, Keli! Today, however, I’m focused on the short term goal of some holiday prep. Sometimes, I just need the immediate satisfaction that comes from accomplishing some small mission, too.

    Congratulations on staying the course at Curves!

  11. the writ and the wrote says:

    I am a huge fan of goal setting. I like knowing where I’m going and what’s going to happen next. This post was a good reminder for me to revisit my 2012 goals and see what’s happening.

  12. Sherrinda says:

    I struggle with self-imposed goals. I seem to need accountability. And forget long-term goals…like you the thought of exercising every day for the rest of my life sounds like a never-ending nightmare!

    I will need to rethink my short term goals and somehow get some accountability.

  13. Loree Huebner says:

    Goals do motivate me too. Getting motivated is the hard part. Congrats on sticking to your new routine and reaching those goals.

  14. What a cool system, Keli! I agree…I need some sort of short-term motivation to keep at it.

  15. i always look forward to your curves stories. pictures are awesome. your avatar has got nothing on you. 🙂

  16. bethkvogt says:

    How fun is this, Keli?!
    Wow, now to work this into a writing program of some sort … key it into my keyboard and have a little avatar-me on my screen when I hit my word count or write adverb-free or cliche-free prose.

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