08 Jun 2014


This post was originally published in my weekly newsletter about art therapy, running a private practice and overall wellness. To receive these post before anyone else subscribe here.

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

Thomas A. Edison

Hello Again,


As the air gets hot and heavy I find myself dreaming about…well, having time to daydream. I don’t know about you, but 2014 has been a whirlwind. Mentally I feel like I am barely out of January and I am still making new years resolutions six months in. Did you make any resolutions this year and if so do they still seem relevant to you?

My big goal for 2014 was to start my practice and this continues to be an all-consuming endeavor. Suddenly I am a small business owner and am responsible for both motivating and holding myself accountable. I am making my own goals and choosing the direction I want to go. This is both exhilarating and terrifying. It has me wondering how we push ourselves to meet our goals. Or perhaps more important, should have to push? If we want something enough won’t it happen?

Some things come so easily, working with clients, studying, talking to people about what I do. But then there is that 47 page application for the insurance panel that is like a phone book I carry from coffee shop to coffee shop, bargaining with myself to get it finished. “Two more pages and then you can have a cookie.” So how do we make the time to plan ahead and actually do the things we need to get there?

When we are young motivation is easy. Want dessert? Eat all of your vegetables. A simple reward system built into most homes and schools ensure we understand this basic concept if you work at something you will be rewarded. As adults we realize that is not always the case. So what keeps us going when we are feeling discouraged? How do we help ourselves push forward? Sometimes I still bribe myself with dessert (see cookie example above).

Often we need a reminder of why we are doing something to begin with. As clinicians we get what’s called supervision, which is a group or individual session you can use to discuss your work, get support and hold yourself accountable. I often think they should offer this type of support in all fields. But we can also create our own ways to get inspired.

There is also a growing trend for apps that help motivate you. Want to lose weight, get on a budget, or build a nonprofit? A simple trip to the app store can set you up with countless options that turn your everyday life goals into games. The idea behind gamification (don’t worry this term was new to me too) is if you set up a way to earn rewards like points or money (you may have heard of stickK or dietbetter) you have a better chance to achieve results. The aptly named, gofuckingdoit, lets you come up with any goal and if its not met you have to pay a friend $50. Psychological and Behavioral research over the years has shown that by incentivizing we are more likely to succeed (think Avon’s pink Cadillacs) but people are also different and what motivates us is unique.

So, how effective are these types of apps? It seems to depend on the person. You can read an interesting article about that here. Do you use a real life accountability buddy, a trendy app, or old fashion pen and paper? I’m curious about what works for you.

Of course if you’re feeling unmotivated for long periods of time perhaps you need more support. Taking care of yourself is the first step to a happier, more productive life. So lets make a deal, Ill finish that application if you…shoot me an email and let me know what you’re going to tackle next.

I’m wishing you all a healthy and productive week.



Jennifer Byxbee

I am an art therapist and creative arts therapies supervisor in New York City. I have worked as an art therapist for over 9 years with children and adults in a variety of settings. Art Therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on the creative process in order to promote self awareness, esteem and insight. I provide long and short term individual therapy, group therapy, and supervision for practicing clinicians at my Manhattan office. I also offer remote services.

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