We often feel like motivation is one of those qualities that we just can’t seem to get enough of. I often hear from clients, “If I only were more motivated” or “I need to find my motivation again” as though it were something that we lost. So what’s going on here?
Motivation is the force that urges us to make a change from our current circumstances. It could come from within (our choice) or it can come from an external source (not our choice, responding to circumstances). Being successful with change is much more successful when the motivator is internal. When the notion of change is being forced upon us from outside, our inner rebel speaks up and we encounter resistance and ultimately failure at sustaining change. The tricky part is that we can still have trouble staying motivated even if we believe it is our choice to change. It all depends on the reason we tell ourselves why we want to change. Our reason why to change has to be matched with our values. This will make it more important and meaningful to you. It’s easy to get confused with what our values are, so gaining clarity on this can be powerful for making sure your motivation stays strong.
1. Make your Motivator Important and Meaningful
Try the 5 Whys method. Ask yourself Why do I want to change? Write it down. Repeat four times. The first few answers might be obvious, but as you get the 5th Why, you tend to uncover the deeper reasons behind your desire to change. Make sure you are basing your decision to change on the deepest reason you can uncover (hint: it tends to be emotional).
2. Don’t Forget about your Motivator
It sounds silly, but so often we are dealing with the general overwhelm of life that the reason we decide to do something new can get lost in the shuffle. We start a new exercise or diet program and after a few weeks we’ve lost the focus of why we’re doing it in the first place. The stress of regular life dominates and our new habits we are trying to establish get pushed to the wayside. Keep your motivator fresh: Post pictures, sayings, dream boards of your Motivator. Not your goal. You want to be reminded WHY you’ve chosen to change. Keep that Why #5 in plain view so you see it every single day.
3. Hitch your Wagon to a Star
It’s true that we become like the people we surround ourselves with. Align yourself with those who have similar goals and values. If they are already successful at it then that’s even better. Even if the people in your life are not trying to accomplish the same goals you are, if they are nevertheless encouraging, positive and supportive of your efforts. It makes your goal of changing your ways easier. Often it’s these people who can help us through the tough times and celebrate our milestones when we achieve them. These stars are key people time around to make the entire process worthwhile.
4. Maximize your Energy
What energy you say? Of course, what it takes to have tons of energy is often what we are trying to accomplish as our goal. Eating well, sleeping well, getting enough exercise are a few that are obvious. It doesn’t all have to be perfect, but focusing on self-care, the things you need to have in your life to feel good, to feel rested and energized are practices that are important to maintain. If we have more energy, we will feel more like we have the capacity to tackle our goals. This might mean that while you are working on making healthy changes, you start to choose an earlier bedtime, spend some time doing physical movement in the fresh air, nurture those important relationships- anything that gives YOU energy. Don’t sacrifice these important energizing moments because they are actually fueling you to carry out your mission. Likewise, this also means avoiding the people, places and things that zap your energy. Make a list and avoid like your health and well-being depends on it!
5. Stay Positive
This might seem similar to Hitch your Wagon to a Star, but it’s more personal. It’s about keeping yourself in a positive emotional place, exposed to positive feelings on a regular basis. You choose how you want to go about it. Think about it this way: When you are feeling bored, irritated, frustrated or even depressed, how likely is it that you will feel like taking on that new behavior you are trying to make a habit (think: going to the gym or eating a healthy meal or walking at work?). Not too likely. When we are feeling down, we don’t want to do. Our motivation is low. Our motivators may still exist but our heart just isn’t into it. So now think opposite. Think fun! silly! pride! joy! inspiration! love! serenity & peace. What things make you feel this way? How often can you dedicate a little time to nurture these happy feelings? You might be surprised how far they will take you.