5 Ways to Stay Motivated During Self-Challenges

Dear Readers,

Doing these Bonnie Challenges is a lot of effort. It wouldn’t be fun if it wasn’t, but that also means it can get really difficult to keep it up if motivation stays down too long. I know I find it hard to look at my challenges every day and actually want to do them.

Some days I’m psyched. I do them right away, pat myself on the back, and start my day confident.

Other days I wake up, ignore them until I want to go to sleep, then groan my way through them before falling into bed.

The tough days were the ones that took a lot of mental reminding, yelling, threatening, and pleading, but as days keep passing, I figure out more and more ways to stay motivated or create motivation when I was uninterested and apathetic about the whole ‘challenge’ thing.

There are a lot of ideas online, but I find learning my own patterns and what works for me goes better than trying to follow someone else’s idea of motivation, mostly because those just seem like another thing to tick off.

So, here are five things that keep me going during my 2017 Bonnie Challenges:

1- Stickers!

Gold star stickers were one of the greatest things I received for completing things as a child. Even in my high school chemistry class, we got star stickers for grades within certain ranges, although those were better because they were different colors (!!!) and we got to use them to ‘buy’ either a handmade hat or a baked good from our teacher.

Yes, people paid more attention to her on average than they did other teachers.

A couple days into the year, I decided to start putting a sticker on my Outlander calendar for every day I completed my challenges…ALL of them. And in the spirit of Scotland, I chose to use unicorns.

At first, there were only a few, and I didn’t mind if I missed one. Other things kept me on task.

After a week, though, I began to feel obligated to keep putting the little unicorns with their friends, and there were some days that I only did my challenges so I could put little Marsali with her pals.

Now I have almost two months of unicorns/horses trotting their way across my calendar, and it’s so satisfying.

2- Make it Easy

For my 365-Day Journal Challenge, I had to start doing something very simple but effective: I now throw my journal onto my pillow at some point during the day. That way, when I want to go to bed, I have to pick it up in order to do so…and at that point I might as well just write in it.

Plus, if I want to go to bed when I’m ready to fall into it, I have to write in my journal earlier to get it off my pillow.

Finding a way to put the challenge right in front of you can simply create automatic responses, and that’s exactly what you want. Then, if you want to keep the challenge going as part of life, you’ve already got the habit.

3- Attach the Challenge to an Existing Habit

Besides putting my journal on my pillow, the way I’ve managed to make writing in it every day a full habit as opposed to having to remind myself is that I made it part of my bedtime routine.

After 4-5 weeks of being consistent, I now feel the urge to write about my day every night before bed. It’s wonderful and a great way to clear my mind so I can actually sleep.

Now I just need to attach my other challenges to existing habits and I’ll be good to go.

4-Put Your Challenge Where You’ll See it Every Day

I kept my January Handstand Challenge on the bulletin board in my room. Besides that, I have the calendar with my stickers on it on my wall, which is easy to see. I now have a journal dedicated to this blog, and I’ll leave that sitting on my desk (sometimes on top of the stacks of other stuff on my desk….).

Seeing it all the time means that if I don’t do it, I’m simply ignoring it, and my own sense of pride won’t let that happen.

5-No Mental Negotiations/Don’t Leave Room for Choice

The willpower to stick to your challenges/goals is really difficult when there’s room for choice. The times I think “Well, it wouldn’t be so bad if I skip it just this once, and do I really need to do this? It’s an arbitrary goal, and I’d feel much better right now if I just didn’t do it” and mentally reply “well, maybe…” are the times I have to fight myself to keep going.

Doing that all the time is exhausting, so it should be an exception, not the rule.

When the question of if you really need to keep going or should keep going or want to keep going comes up, immediately think “YES!” No room for argument. Unless it’s actually life-threatening or will lead to injury, there cannot be a question.

That said, if you’re constantly in a mental argument with yourself (as well as hungry, or tired, or sore, or whatever), you might just need to ease back on your goals and work up from there.


Do you have any challenges/goals set for you life? If so, how do you like to stay motivated? Do you think any of the above methods will work for you?

Your Bonnie Celtophile,



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