02/27/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

How Are You Gonna Keep Up the Momentum?

This blog is part of M.J Ryan's Intent Learning Series

Each of us sustains motivation differently. So one of the keys to creating a lasting change in ourselves is to understand what will get us out of bed to do what we promised ourselves and how to keep that motivation alive for as long as needed.

My sister is, as my mother used to say, "a social butterfly." It's easy for her to exercise when she has someone to do it with because of her desire to connect to others. Dolores is achievement-oriented. These people need very challenging goals that are strictly measured and constantly revised upward as each goal is met. If she's trying to exercise regularly, she needs to keep upping the ante on herself somehow to stay motivated. Like do a 5K race. Then a 10K. Then a triathlon. Ana is motivated by the desire to win. You can get her to learn or do anything by making it a contest in which she can beat someone else.

But those aren't the only momentum creators on the planet. My friend Drew went from a 95-pound weakling type to a buffed-out stud because "I wanted to prove to myself and others that I could." Robin keeps to her diet and exercise plan by "remembering how good eating right and working out makes me feel."

As for me, I keep myself going through my desire for personal integrity. I've developed positive attitudes as well as the habit of exercise because I promised myself I would and I don't want to break my word. For folks like me, making vows or commitments can be highly effective.

Do you know what works for you to keep your momentum? Knowing what's true for you is crucial. Otherwise, you may end up following someone else's idea of what should work and not finding much success. Here's an example: one of the standard suggestions for keeping momentum is to reward yourself along the way. I personally am not motivated by rewards at all (nor would pasting pictures of skinny models in bikinis on the refrigerator do anything for me except make me depressed). There are no "one size fits all" solutions.

To Try: What helps you keep going? If you're not sure, experiment. Try one of the methods I suggested today. If that holds no interest, try another. Ask a friend what works for her. But remember that just because it works for her doesn't mean it will for you. Your job is to discover your most effective momentum creator.

Adapted from This Year I Will...: How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True