By Miranda Massie on January 11, 2018
January has arrived and we are back to greet another new year at UBC.
Despite missing my morning sleep-ins and binge-watching true crime dramas on Netflix, I derive a certain satisfaction from returning to a routine. I feel more productive and organized, and I notice an immediate improvement to both my sleeping and eating habits. I even started writing in my Five Minute Journal. (It remains to be seen how long this will last, but I’m cautiously optimistic!)
We are primed for all things new and renewed at this time of year and often start out feeling strong and motivated. But is this sustainable? How long do our resolutions really last? Can our intentions stand the test of time, and should they? How do we avoid feeling like we have failed if things don’t go as planned?
When it comes to changing habits or taking action, I truly believe that the most important factor is a deep understanding of the self. “Sticking with it” or having a “can-do attitude” doesn’t work for me personally. I have learned that in order to avoid feeling like a failure, a specific set of factors must be in place if I’m to be successful. It starts with an examination of what gets me excited, what keeps me going and what can derail my good intentions. My musings might help guide your New Year intentions.
If it’s not right in front of me, I won’t do it.
I easily forget (or intentionally avoid) tasks, even when I chose them. For my 2018 workout plan, I wrote it out calendar-style, with colourful markers and check boxes. It will sit on my kitchen table to ensure that I follow it. It makes for a messier home, but also keeps me accountable. Check out some of my inspiration from Pinterest.
I get bored easily.
Times like these I wish I was a runner. I envy people who like to run: it’s so simple and accessible, but I can’t think of anything I’d rather do less. In order to stay interested and involved in my fitness routine, I need to change things up. I incorporate apps and different types of workouts including yoga, and I’m hoping to take up swimming again in our beautiful UBC Aquatic Centre.
I like a challenge.
The competitive streak in me shines when a challenge is thrown down, even when it is with myself. I like to win and want to win, so I turn my resolutions into mini competitions with myself or others. I’ll be joining the UBC Walkabout this month as a way of increasing and tracking my daily steps, and I use the Carrot app to get rewards for my walking because who doesn’t want more Aeroplan or Scene points?
I need a deadline.
The best way for me to fail at a new habit or resolution is to have it last forever. I am fundamentally unmotivated by anything that does not have an end in sight. My New Year fitness plan is currently set for 10 weeks. Once I complete that, I will celebrate, take a few weeks off and then re-assess what I want to do next. I also make sure to write out a list of rules (guidelines or criteria if you prefer) to keep me accountable, one that includes minimum time limits and what types of activity count.
Setting the stage for change has become just as or even more important than what my ultimate goals are. In being more intentional at the start, I find that I’m much more likely to have all the pieces in place to feel successful.
This month, I invite you to leave some room for self-compassion, inspiration and success in whatever form your resolutions might take. Find ways to manage your New Year energy, investigate ways to keep motivated and perhaps even step out of your comfort zone like Professor Ono.
Wishing you a wonderful start to 2018!
All my best,
Photo credit: Miranda Massie
By Miranda Massie on January 11, 2018
Bring those fitness-based New Year’s resolutions back to life with these great tips and tricks for staying on track and building strong and lasting habits.
Week 1 and 2:
We often look to the end results when determining the progress and achievements of our fitness goals. By focusing on goal setting and measurement at the start, we can set ourselves up for long-term success.
Sometimes it can be difficult to stay motivated if we are not enjoying our activities. The best way to resuscitate your fitness plan is to make it fun! If you don’t enjoy running, don’t make this a resolution. Try UBC Recreation’s Free Week to discover what gets you excited and raring to work out.
Week 3: Go high tech
With the number of apps, YouTube videos and open-sourced fitness classes available, there are countless low and no-cost ways to stay active. Try one of Fitness Blender’s new workouts, like this “Pain in the Abs” core workout:
Or download a fresh new app like Aaptiv that offers personalized and narrated training programs that you can do indoor or outdoor, including walking, running, elliptical, biking, yoga and more. Please note that Aaptiv requires in-app purchases. For free workout options, try the Nike Training App or Sworkit.
Week 4: Stay motivated
The Greatist.com offers tips on the best ways to stick to your fitness resolutions. They are more fun and interesting than you think!
By Miranda Massie on January 10, 2017
The New Year has arrived and it is typically a time for reflection, resolutions and action. This month, discover ways to stay active and stick to those resolutions by weaving activity throughout your day.
Week 1: Join The Walkabout Challenge
Stay motivated to reach your fitness and step goals by joining the UBC Walkabout Challenge. Walk your way to better social and physical health in just nine weeks!
Week 2: Pedometer 101
Before you head out the door, make sure that you understand your step-tracking device. Learn more about how pedometers work.
Week 3: Indoor Home Walking Workout
Feeling deterred by the weather? Watch this video to get in your steps without going outside.
Week 4: Tips To Stay On Track
Check out this list of easy to-dos to help you keep your fitness on track well beyond January 31!
For more even fitness tips and inspiration, visit our Fitting in Fitness page.
By Miranda Massie on January 12, 2016
I rarely set New Year’s resolutions. While I find that a new year is a great time to re-evaluate and reset my health behaviours, I am jaded by many years of watching my resolutions fall lonely by the wayside as the weeks move on.
Human motivation is an interesting phenomenon. Our behavior is commonly described as the result of internal (intrinsic) or external (extrinsic) factors that push and pull us towards a desired outcome. We are motivated to act based on elements such as rationality, drive, incentives, self-control, cognition and reinforcement, but are often passive participants – acting or not acting without taking the time to understand why.
This year, instead of making the New Year about resolutions or goals, I am making it about my motivations to achieve these goals. My hope is that by focusing my attention on how and why I am motivated to reach my goals, instead of on the goals themselves, that I might actually create some long term changes.
- My goal: complete a one-month workout plan
- My motivations: more energy; diversify my current (and boring) workouts
- My focus: feeling stronger; increasing my daily energy levels; boosting my self-esteem
- My goal: eat out 2x per week or less
- My motivations: save money; eat less processed foods; try new recipes
- My focus: saving for my wedding; spending quality time with my partner and our wealth of underused cookbooks
Ways To Stay Motivated
Break down goals and use bite-sized steps to get there. This allows for celebration and achievement along the way and can help identify the deeper motivators behind the goal. “Be healthier” is a tough goal to achieve unless you identify what this means to you and why.
Share your goals
Share your motivation and goals with a partner or friend. They can check-in and help provide additional external motivation, reminders, (or nagging) when necessary. Posting your goals/motivators can also help keep you accountable to yourself. A friend of mine even framed his!
Put an end to it
Studies have shown that long range and open ended goal setting can be problematic, even contributing to symptoms of depression. By setting a realistic end date (I might suggest 4-8 weeks), your goal is measurable, tangible and ultimately more achievable.
Identify your motivators
Tease out the specific benefits that you are hoping to achieve through your goals. This can help provide a deeper connection to the goal and a more personal motivation for seeing it through. Why are you setting this goal and how would you like it to impact your life.
Relapse, re-set and repeat
Forgive yourself if things do not go perfectly. Seeing your goals through to completion might require you to take a break, re-set or re-evaluate. Use this time to review goals, steps and roadblocks and then begin again.
I invite you to welcome the year 2016 with open arms. Take this month to delve deeper into the motivations that live behind your resolutions as it may provide you with the added value to carry on.
All my best,
Ways to stay motivated this month at UBC:
- UBC Recreation Free Week: Jan 11-17
- Dog Walkers Stroll: Jan 20
- Art Lovers Walk: Jan 26
- Free Bodyworks Fitness Consultation Sessions
Dickson JM, Moberly NJ. Reduced specificity of personal goals and explanations for goal attainment in major depression. PloS one, 2013, 8(5):1932-6203.
Litt MD, Kleppinger A, Judge JO. Initiation and maintenance of exercise behavior in older women: predictors from the social learning model. Journal of behavioral medicine, 2002, 25(1):0160-7715.
Harackiewicz, JM. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: the search for optimal motivation and performance. San Diego: Academic Press, c2000.
Posted in Editorial, Mental Health, Miranda Massie | Tagged 2016, attention, balance, editorial, Energy, Focus, goals, Miranda Massie, motivation, recreation, resolutions, set-backs, Support, UBC | 3 Responses
By Melissa Lafrance on January 12, 2016
A goal without a plan is just a wish. -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
It’s the time of year when we set plans to be our best selves for the year ahead, by improving our physical, professional, social, financial and/or mental wellbeing. How can we improve the chances that our goals will unfold and result in the outcome we hope for at the beginning of the year? Reaching and achieving goals can feel insurmountable even when we have the best of intentions. It takes persistence, accountability, motivation and planning.
There’s something satisfying about crossing an item off a to-do list. So why is it that a lot of us don’t take the opportunity to apply the same concept of making a list for our goals? Wouldn’t it be just as rewarding to place a completed check mark next to a goal? We’ve all experienced the feelings of pride, joy, excitement and relief that accomplishment can bring, and those feelings can help our willingness to put forth effort towards developing plans and goals.
A 1968 article by Dr. Edwin Locke, “Toward a Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives” found that employees were motivated by clear goals and appropriate feedback1. Dr. Locke went on to say that working toward a goal provided a major source of motivation to actually reach the goal which, in turn, improved performance.
You might be wondering, where do I start to accomplish my goals? How can I make these wishes realities? No matter how big or small your goal, making change requires planning, and SMART goal setting can be helpful2. Follow these guidelines to setting SMART goals to avoid them falling through the cracks and never getting accomplished.
SMART goals are:
Don’t be vague. Your goals should be clear and unambiguous. Specific goals produce a higher level of output. Break down hurdles by having single, precise, and idealistic end results.
Make sure you can measure how you will achieve your goal, by making your goal quantifiable, include target dates and units of measurements. Measurements such as how much, how often, or how many will allow you to track your progress can help keep you motivated.
Don’t set yourself up for failure, because your motivation relies on success and hope. Breaking down your main objective into smaller sub-goals and getting feedback from your support network can help determine if the end result is attainable within the parameters you have set for yourself. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t challenge ourselves. Find a happy medium.
If your goals are not relevant to you, they will likely dissipate. Avoid becoming bored or disinterested by ensuring you are passionate and energized about reaching your potential. The significance of anticipated accomplishment will help keep you interested, and in turn, motivated to follow through.
Place your goals and sub-goals within time frames and stick to it! Re-adjusting may be necessary.
Remember to have a strategy for staying accountable. Make sure to write them down. Thinking about your goals and having them in mind is not enough. You will need to evaluate your plan and re-adjusting will likely be necessary. Remember to translate your sub-goals and goals to your calendar and schedule appropriately.
Finally, it is important to highlight and acknowledge your victories and challenges along the way. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice and feedback from your support network. Here are UBC, we are incredibly fortunate to work in a highly collaborative environment and have many services to help and support us.
How UBC can help:
Articles to help with goal setting:
- Understanding and Setting SMART Goals
- How do I get there from here? Setting and Attaining Career Goals
Accessing EFAP for help with:
Contact Shepell, UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program provider for help with health coaching, fitness & nutrition support.
- Locke, EA. Toward a theory of task motivation and incentives. Elsevier, 1968, 3(2):157-189.
- Fuhrmann, CN, et al. Goal-Setting Strategies for Scientific and Career Success. Science Careers, 2013.
By Miranda Massie on February 4, 2015
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.-Helen Keller
I work on a remarkable campus with many remarkable people. I feel privileged have this opportunity and I often leave meetings thinking, “Wow, that person is really great at this” or “I am in awe of this person’s ability to do that…” This happened to me just the other day and then another thought popped into my head: “Isn’t it interesting that regularly I think these things to myself and then never actually share them with those colleagues?”
This year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday and I find myself disappointed. In years past, a highlight for me has been to write personal Valentines for my co-workers-a tradition I started on my second week of work at UBC in 2011. I make a trip to the store and pick up the paper Valentines with Elmo or Strawberry Shortcake on the front and drop them off at peoples desks (because who doesn’t like to get a Valentine!) It is something fun and silly that tends to make people smile and hopefully lets them know that they are appreciated.
Taking the time to do this in a professional setting is often overlooked. We are busy rushing from meeting to meeting, constantly juggling priorities without always having the time to connect on a personal level with our colleagues.
In an effort to make up for my inability to shower my colleagues with Valentines on February 14, I have decided instead to send a small number of personal gratitude Valentines. I am going to actually share with others what I admire about them, how I appreciate their work and how they provide me inspiration.
Last year, I wrote about How To Be Your Own Valentine.
Did you know that practicing gratitude actually has health benefits?
- Sharing our gratitude for others or taking time to reflect on what you are grateful for can have a positive effect on levels of happiness and pleasant emotions.
- If harnessed and used as a personal strength, this gratitude can lead to increased relational wellbeing, helping us feel more connected to others.
- In addition, the simple act of witnessing gratitude (by others or towards others) can have a motivating effect on our own behavior. It can lead to increased social awareness, higher likelihood to support others and can motivate us to emulate these qualities in ourselves.
This Valentine’s Day, in addition to recognizing romantic partners and loved ones, I invite you to reflect on your colleagues. Whom do you admire? Who provides you with professional inspiration? If you are able to make the time share your feelings of gratitude with them you both might just end up a bit healthier than when you started!
All my best,
Algoe, S. B., & Haidt, J. (2009) Witnessing excellence in action: the ‘other-praising’ emotions of elevation, gratitude, and admiration. The Journal of Positive Psychology 4 (2), 105-127.
Emmons, R. A., & Crumpler, C.A. (2000) Gratitude as a Human Strength: Appraising the Evidence. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 19(1), 56-69.
Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389.
By Miranda Massie on March 3, 2014
The month of March is upon us, a time of year when spring is in bloom and our New Year’s resolutions are but a distant memory. I tend to shy away from locking myself into resolutions, but I did set some goals for myself for 2014, with a caveat.
My three goals:
- Exercise three times a week (gym, yoga, dance, walking)
- Eat healthy meals at home and only go out to eat one time per week
- Avoid alcohol except on special occasions and if so, only one glass
- I will stick with this from Jan. 1 to March 15, 2014
Why the caveat you might ask? Because over the years, I have discovered not only what motivates me, but how I am motivated. It turns out that I am motivated by short-term, project-based goals that have a clear beginning and middle, and emphasize a tangible end within reach. At work, I thrive on projects and really sink my teeth into the process of arriving at a final goal that is realistically within my grasp.
When it came to my New Year’s resolutions this year, I decided to see if approaching my fitness goals in a project-based manner might lead to success with respect to my health outcomes the same way that I have seen success at work.
I chose March 15h as my deadline, as I will be leaving for a two-week holiday on that day. I decided that: 1) it would be nice to build up my strength and immune system before travelling abroad, and 2) I would have a difficult time sustaining my healthy behaviours while away.
I am now just two weeks shy of my final goal and I feel great! I have in no way been perfect but maybe for the first time, I feel as though I really succeeded at something and can see and feel the positive results.
This month, I invite you to think about what motivates you, and how. Perhaps you are motivated by competition or by teamwork. If that is the case, be sure to join the Healthy UBC Challenge 2014! Grab your colleagues and spend four weeks working towards individual and collective health goals. The challenge offers competition, teambuilding and great prizes!
Now that I know what motivates me, my next step is to set new goals for when I return. Perhaps a personal yoga challenge or a workout regime focused on endurance. Maybe I will finally work up the courage to bike to work or to enter the Sun Run.
The most valuable lesson of it all is that I proved to myself that I could do it. I had the self-determination to stick with a goal and to see it through. I was aware that the sacrifices made would not last forever, and this pushed me to sustain my healthy behaviours that much longer.
Want to learn more about motivation?