I am currently taking part in a motivational training programme from Dr. Stefan Frädrich (who is, among other things, known for his bestseller “Günter, der innere Schweinehund” (“Günter, the inner couch potato”) and as the founder of the platform “GEDANKENtanken”). At the start of this 99 week course I completed activities such as writing a personal eulogy – a process which offered me valuable insight into the things which really matter in my life. In the run up to this programme I was already carring out activities such as daily evaluations and plans, yet, in my everyday life they eventually petered out. With help from the knowledge gained in the course, I am attempting to write a diary three times a day – in the morning, at noon and in the evening. I broadly list important events, ideas, wishes, options and visions. First and foremost, I attempt to list, in the shortest amount of time possible (five minutes), the tasks which have been achieved that day, or indeed the important tasks which would need to be achieved in order to have a successful day and the ones which are imperative to the perfect day.

For quite a long time I have concerned myself with my goals. Goal setting is consistently addressed in this blog. There are a range of possible ways to achieve one's goals. One of the most crucial questions is “why?” Sometimes the reason for doing something can be easily found while other times finding this can require hard work. For example, I managed to successfully give up smoking by sitting down and writing out all of the advantages of a smoke-free life. Sitting down and writing are motivational strategies which are not necessarily easy to put into practice. Thus, the “why?” question is crucial, as is the question of why certain goals were able to be achieved.

The pleasure pain principle

I of course wrote down that I would like to lead a better, more active life. Once you start, you get carried away with positive and ingenious thoughts which motivate you to keep going. However, what should you do when projects encounter teething problems or mental blocks occur? It could be that the pain threshold had not yet been reached, or rather, that the situation was not life-threatening. It could even be that a difficult situation was not perceived as a threat. Anyone who has once experienced pain or traumatic experiences in life can be, to some degree, “grateful”.  This can strengthen one's will. I, as a smoker, had reached my personal pain threshold. Instinctively I knew that smoking places the body and mind under extreme stress. Thankfully, I was able to make myself see what was causing my burning desire to stop smoking.

Dr. Stefan Frädrich is not the only one who talks of the pleasure pain principle; many motivational experts reference this. I am now convinced that there is some truth to this principle. Who would not run away from a tiger in order to stay alive? Physical and mental pain triggers the required response. This does not have to do with a never-ending cycle of worry and ill-health. It has far more to do with a self-fulfilling prophecy. The sentiment of this is that “one is what one thinks!” After having a successful start, I attempted to further concern myself with the satisfying process that is goal setting in order to take advantage of the momentum I had gained.

Many would find themselves lost when trying to escape from a tiger, while others would manage to escape due to the presence of weaker characters. However, a few would even manage to succeed in fighting the animal. Anyone who works proactively on their goals, prepares themselves well, and is fit could induce the “tiger” to flee. Regular writing can be the key to effectively acting, thinking, and reaching one's goals. Here the focus is not on perfect texts or complex correspondences. Keeping a brief “5 minute diary” several times per day could be the starting point.

I will demonstrate an example from my own experience by discussing my goal to write for fifteen minutes several times a day. Every time that I start to work towards a goal I write in note form, or in more detail, about pain. Following this I begin visualise, in written form, as many positive things as I can, in order to keep the momentum gained right up until the end. Once all of the ideas have been tapped out it is worthwhile returning to the section of notes entitled “avoiding negativity”. Having a clear overview of possible threats does not fail to make an impact.

Reason (why?) and Meaning

Avoiding negative emotions (pain):

In my case this means being well prepared and making every effort to avoid relapses (for example in regard to smoking, diet and alcohol).

Not just talking about your personal goals, but actively working on them.

Not having a good “why?” in mind can, for example, lead to corpulence or dependency.

Not being able to find any interesting, organised, motivated or goal-oriented contacts or friends.

In the best case scenario communication difficulties can be overcome.

Positive Results (Pleasure, Meaning, Joy):

My blog provides me with joy and motivation.

Working on my book gives me insights into different perspectives.

Daily notes highlight what has been achieved and what must still be achieved.

You know where you are at and what you want = clarity, insight.

Joy in reading, researching, working on texts.

Positive personal development and perspective = meaning.

Exchanging thoughts with other bloggers and readers provides inspiration.

Writing is fun and there is a sense of excited anticipation in advance of reflecting on what you have written.

Possible aids include meditation, visualisation, conversations with colleagues.

Writing is an instrument which can be used to reach one's goals.

Writing helps to free the mind and allows me to fall asleep calmly.

The more I write, the easier it becomes.

Goals represent opportunities. Without having a goal in mind it would likely not have been possible for me to give up smoking. Perhaps I also would not have begun to write. Goals provide you with strength and inspiration. I am grateful for this and have further goals – one particular one is to continue on my current path with a positive outlook.

Comments are welcome.