Tomorrow I am off on my holidays. Two whole weeks with friends, doing things I love. It’s going to be great. What has made it even better is that over the last year we have been preparing for this holiday and now its going to happen. Anticipation is one of the most motivating factors on the planet. You remember the pre christmas childhood frenzy of excitement? Even today I love looking at the presents under the tree, often much more exciting than the unwrapped thing (Especially when it is the traditional hair bands, socks and underwear Father Christmas has been bringing me for 30 + years!)
There is no denying it getting excited is part of the fun. And neuroscience can now back this up. Scientists and psychologists have found that when we anticipate something our brain actually releases dopamine, the happy making compound in the body. So by looking forward to something we can actually feel happier. Feeling happy keeps us motivated.
Psychology professor at Harvard University, Ron Siegel, suggested that the key to following through on motivation boils down to this:bring optimism and fun back into the picture. And as we all know we can create our reality so it is up to us to create excitement and anticipation in our lives.
Here is my 5 part guide to building anticipation in your life whether it be for a holiday, a personal goal or even just finishing your essay on time.
I know, I go on about it all the time. However it’s true planning helps our lives in so many ways, not in the least it builds anticipation. When it comes to special times of the year I actually do a special type of planning, which does involve colouring pencils and glitter glue. (Nothing makes things as exciting as glitter glue I promise). In the holidays I wind down my ‘have to do’ activities and up the ‘want to do activities’. I make a gigantic poster with all of my ideas for fun during the time I have. i illustrate it (badly), decorate it and set it up in a place where I can see it every day. I usually do this a couple of weeks before the event so I can look at it and get excited. It takes a hour tops and really helps me focus on the fun I am going to create for me and my family. Which is why in week 30 you will find me on Moesgård beach holding a sandcastle competition with a bunch of grown ups – why? Because we can!
Make a countdown
Put the dates in your diary and countdown towards the event. Counting down every day builds the anticipation and gives you the butterfly feeling of something good coming your way. When I was recently getting demotivated at school counting down the weeks to the summer holidays helped no end. So cross of the days and feel your excitement build.
Think out of the box and have fun!
It’s great to live a life less ordinary. Personally I love it. However in reality my life isn’t really so different to other people’s I just choose to make it important to have fun. So fo example I am currently on day 12 of my two weeks of brunch. I decided that I was going to dedicate two weeks of my summer to only eating brunch, with the twist that everyday had to be a different recipe! It’s been great fun trawling pinterest for recipes and trying something new everyday. Eating later has also been relaxing during my down time. And this has been something purely for me everyday, I have even found myself excited about it when I woke up everyday. So think out of the box, find things that you will find fun and get excited about them.
Seriously do. I used to make for my step daughter a reward chart where she had certain tasks to fulfill but where she choose her own reward for when the chart was full. I have tried this on myself and it works just as well. Not only do I get a little dopamine boost for completing my tasks the reward becomes anticipated the more I work towards it. Make sure your rewards are healthy and support your lifestyle dreams. So gorging on ice cream as a reward for sticking to your diet for a month is not the way to go.
Celebrate what you do. I love to post on Facebook the parts of my life I enjoy. I even get compliments from people who like to follow my personal page just for the positive vibe I send out into the world. People say Facebook can be false because people only promote their positive sides however I say what the heck is wrong with that. Other ways I love to celebrate is to create a memory day or even just to have some bubbly with dinner. I love to share the wealth and if there is something I really want to celebrate I like to involve as many of my friends as I can to make it a really memorable experience.
The power of anticipation is a science backed fact. It is easy to implement. Costs nothing and makes life so much more fun. After all we only get one life, as the immortal Cat Stevens says “we are only dancing on this earth for a short time”. With that in mind it becomes vitally important to make sure you enjoy your journey!