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The Secret Motivation Behind Planning Your Habits: Visualization, Gratitude, and More




You’ve filled your coffee mug, cleared your desk of clutter, and set your phone to “do not disturb.” Yet somehow, 30 minutes into your work, you find yourself scrolling through Instagram again, avoiding the work you told yourself you would get done this morning. Where did your productivity and motivation go?


Whether you’re trying to stay focused at work, enhance your physical fitness, or improve your mental health, staying committed to healthy habits can often feel like an uphill battle. It’s easy to get off course when you feel uninspired to complete the tasks at hand, and you might blame yourself for failing to follow through on the commitments you’ve made to yourself and others.


First things first: Skip the guilt, and know that it’s not your fault if you lack motivation or focus. Your lack of productivity might come down to a lack of planning.


Behind your daily habits, you’ll find hidden motivations that either allow you to get work done cheerfully, practice self-care, and cultivate a positive mindset — or get off track with your goals, get down on yourself, and spiral into negative thoughts that inhibit your health, happiness, and progress toward your goals.


As it turns out, it isn’t enough just to say you’re going to do something — whether that’s finishing a project at work or achieving a health or fitness goal.


In this article, we’ll dive into the power of planning — and how visualization, gratitude, and Shannon Watson’s SWS Method Wellness Planner can set you up for success. And to our Annual and Monthly members, congratulations – you receive the planner directly to your inboxes on the house!





About Shannon Watson, the SWS Method, and the Wellness Planner


Shannon Watson, RN, is a human performance expert with more than 14 years of nursing experience who has designed and implemented research-based programs for private clients and athletic teams that improve flexibility, mobility, and focus while reducing pain, and stress, and improving sleep quality. With online programs and studios located conveniently near downtown Columbia, South Carolina, Shannon also offers limited travel and consultation services.


Working with professional athletes, university teams, businesses, executives, and individuals online and in person, she specializes in applying stretch therapy, evidence-based restorative yoga, and mindfulness techniques to enhance well-being and performance. With further specialties in yoga for athletes, pilates for strength, pilates wellness, pilates mobility, and other modalities, Shannon combines physical fitness with mindfulness techniques to help clients enhance their well-being and performance.


With her SWS Method, Shannon offers a holistic approach to wellness that combines deep stretch flows, mobility exercises, breathwork, and mindfulness-based relaxation techniques to help clients align and recover both body and mind. With classes conducted entirely online, clients access weekly lessons that provide comprehensive care for the whole body, inside and out, with special attention given to the hips, back, and shoulders.


Now, with the introduction of the SWS Method Wellness Planner, Shannon has created a system for creating and tracking daily, weekly, and monthly goals. While the planner provides space for adding daily work tasks and other responsibilities, it offers much more than that — enabling individuals to track their water intake, “nourishment goals,” and movement while deepening gratitude and enhancing motivation.


If you’re intrigued by the SWS Method and the SWS Method Wellness Planner, it’s essential to understand the role of planning in sustaining healthy habits. Read on to learn more about what we deem to be the best wellness planner available and how it supports a healthy lifestyle.



How the SWS Method Wellness Planner Works


The best planners of 2023 know something we sometimes forget — that productivity is not just about working furiously and collapsing in exhaustion at the end of the day. More than simply a daily planner, the SWS Method Wellness Planner focuses on building daily habits that contribute to overall health, including:

  • Journaling about gratitude and establishing a regular gratitude practice

  • Journaling about “3 Things That Went Well Today,” an intrinsically rewarding practice that shifts your focus to what’s going right instead of what’s going wrong

  • Checking off boxes as visual reminders that staying you’re on track with different goals and already knocking off wellness goals right from the start

Let’s take a closer look at the elements of the planner and how they work together to provide a complete system for unlocking productivity and motivation and intrinsically incentivizing individuals via a unique reward system.




The Science of Gratitude and Its Far-Reaching Benefits


With the SWS Method Wellness Planner, you’ll have a way to create a regular gratitude practice through daily journaling — a powerful force that can train your brain to function better, helping to calm its deep limbic areas and enhance judgment centers.

Research shows that individuals with a regular gratitude practice tend to be healthier, less stressed, and more optimistic, making them more likely to make significant strides toward their goals.


Expressing gratitude may even extend lifespan. The practice can help to lower blood pressure, boost immune function, and improve sleep while reducing the risks of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders.


Moreover, when you're grateful, you're better equipped to make sound decisions from a place of positivity and stay motivated to achieve your goals, large and small.




Benefits of Planning and Visualizing


Research has delved into the biology and psychology of motivation, revealing that it’s a complex interplay of molecules, hormones, neurotransmitters, and specific brain circuits. Understanding this intricate web can help you leverage planning and visualization tools to stay motivated.

In part, science reveals that the desire to achieve a goal can be more motivating than the achievement itself. With the SWS Method Wellness Planner, you’ll tap into that logic — utilizing planning and visualization tools to fuel your progress and create a roadmap for success.

By outlining the steps to take toward your goals and visualizing yourself crossing the finish line, you’ll feel your goals are more attainable. As a result, you’ll be more likely to make your goals a reality — a pretty cool side effect of proper planning and visualization.




Neuroscientific Insights for Motivation

Neuroscientist Dr. Gabija Toleikyte provides further insights into the science of motivation with her book, “Why the Fuck Can't I Change?” Her research reveals practical tips to boost enthusiasm and productivity that you can start using today and incorporate into your daily SWS Method Wellness Planner activities.


Give yourself a break

Take breaks every 90 minutes to socialize, take a walk, enjoy a cup of tea, or listen to music. Well-timed breaks replenish the neurotransmitters essential for optimal brain function, ensuring you stay motivated throughout the day.


Write down the benefits

When faced with a daunting task where you’re lacking motivation, write down 20 benefits of completing it. This exercise can shift your perspective and reignite your drive to get it done.


Align your work with your values

When your values align with your goals, it stimulates the brain’s reward system, triggering the parasympathetic nervous system necessary for creativity, rest, digestion, and empathy.

That reward system reinforces behaviors that lead to rewards and prevents behaviors associated with punishment, making you gravitate toward reward-producing activities.


Choosing Goals Wisely

As you get started with your SWS Method Wellness Planner, it’s crucial to choose your goals wisely. Setting goals that align with your intrinsic motivation and enjoyment can make a significant difference in your long-term commitment.


In other words, setting long-term, intrinsically motivated goals, often called “approach goals,” can be more fulfilling. These goals make the journey itself rewarding, ensuring you feel good about your progress and stay motivated even when you’ve made significant progress.


Consider the fate of individuals who achieved their goals but failed to plan for what came next, like the climbers who summited Mt. Everest but didn't return — a tale that psychologist and author Ayelet Fishbach opens with in her book Get It Done: Surprising Lessons From the Science of Motivation. A similar scenario unfolds with the more than 100 CEOs in the top S&P who retire after reaching a pivotal year, only to be left feeling unprepared for the next phase of life.


Instead of looking at your goals as a peak to conquer, consider viewing your achievements as segues to the next goal. When you continually monitor and assess your goals in the context of your life’s many other aspirations, you can more easily stay motivated and work toward holistic health rather than one-time goals.


Lastly, leveraging social support along your path to wellness can help you stay motivated, too. Sharing your goals with a supportive network gives you a support system that can offer encouragement along the way. Focus on seeking out and surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals who share your mindset, and you can help one another stay motivated to reach for and accomplish bigger and better goals.




Motivation Is the Superpower You Need


In the pursuit of a healthier, more balanced life, motivation is the secret ingredient that can help you achieve success in your personal and professional goals, health, and well-being. By understanding the motivations behind planning your habits — whether through gratitude, visualization, or strategic goal-setting — you can propel yourself toward your goals with renewed vigor each and every day.


The SWS Method Wellness Planner serves as daily guide on this journey, providing structure, reflection, and intrinsic rewards. As you embrace the power of planning and gratitude, you'll find that motivation becomes not just a momentary feeling but a constant companion on your path to well-being.


Annual and monthly members, you will receive the SWS Planner directly to your inbox today!



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