People often say that motivation doesn’t last.
Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.
Quote by Zig Ziglar
I have changed many habits since I started my journey to a healthier me, and the journey continues. In this post, I want to share ways on how to find that motivation, that boosts you to finally do what it takes to overcome the procrastination and the reluctance of taking action and follow through.
Most of us have developed habits which are not beneficial to us, neither for our health nor for getting successful. We have all tried to make a change in some way or another. However, too often we fail to keep our motivation high and continue following our good intentions. The habits are deep-rooted in our subconscious, and our conscious has difficulties to overwrite the new habits.
I have myself failed one time after the other. Lost weight, gained weight, lost weight, gained it again. Started to do workout regularly, started again, stopped. Got out running, did quit, started a new attempt and gave up. My mood swung from enthusiasms to downs, time and again. Finally, I came to a point in my life, that I was totally fed up with these ups and downs. There must be a way to be able to motivate yourself changing your habits. I started to search for ways to help myself. By reading about the human physiology and psychology I slowly began to understand why and how.
Why is it so hard to motivate yourself changing your habits?
Our brain searches for the most comfortable way of being. It just wants its fuel quick and easy. The reward for drinking a sweet soda explodes to a joyous firework inside of our body. The brain rewards us and gives the body the feeling of instant happiness. Lying on the sofa watching TV is so much more comfortable than getting up doing exercises. The brain just wants to tempt us to save energy only for itself and not use too much energy for making the body move around.
When I consider this, I find the brain not being very smart. When behaving egoistic like that, the body will get damaged slowly but surely, and the brain itself as well. One day we will pay the price for our bad habits, by suffering from pain, aches, and diseases.
Of course, there are also diseases which are of genetic origin. For some of these the science still, haven’t found a cure or a suitable medication. By changing the eating and behavioral habits, it may not always cure the disease but it often eases the pain and make life endurable.
10 Ways to Motivate Yourself
1. Reasons WHY
Think of your reasons why you want to change your habits. For example:
- to live longer and be there for your loved ones as long as possible,
- to stay healthy and avoid painful diseases,
- to be able to care for yourself up to high ages,
- to be able to help and support other people,
- to be able to do what you love to do in life
Your Reason and deep Desire is what you must recall when you have got trouble staying motivated. The Reason Why is one of the most important motivating factors.
Remember: Do not change because of your spouse or your mother in law. Changing your life because of someone else's complaints, that’s definitively going to fail.
2. Visualize Your Future YOU
We react the most upon emotions and feelings. So when visualizing, do imagine how good it feels when you have achieved your goal. For example, think of:
- how rewarding it feels to have reached your goal.
- how good and beautiful you will feel when you have lost the excess pounds.
- the feeling when people give you compliments about your suddenly young looking skin.
- how good it feels to move your body without any pain.
- the great feeling of mental clarity and happiness.
Here is a short MUST-SEE video by Dr. Joe Dispenza. Learn about the « 5 Steps to Change Your Life »
Remember: When you invest in Yourself, you invest in Your Future.
Think of what you can Do when you have achieved your goal, like for example:
- How great life will be when you can walk without pain in your joints again.
- How fun it will be to be able to use your hands again, playing an instrument, or do handicrafts, and not worry about the aches because of gout or arthritis pains.
- The joy of playing around with your children or grandchildren.
- The triumphant feeling when you have run your first race,
- or just how awesome it will be to wear a beautiful dress, and get admiring looks.
Remember: Visualizing a good feeling and good mood has got a most powerful healing effect on your body and mind.
«Do not underestimate the power of pain. Pain is often the stronger trigger for a change than pleasure.» This is the statement of the famous self-development coach Tony Robbins. This refers rather to psychological pains. For example, the pain of:
- not finding a partner for life.
- of not having a job.
- of not having any friends.
Studies have found out that threatening, like «change or you will die», don’t help much. Why do we resist to make a lifestyle change even if we know it is vital for us?
John Kotter, a Harvard Business School professor, says:
“Behavior change, happens mostly by speaking to people’s feelings. In highly successful change efforts, people find ways to help others see the problems or solutions in ways that influence emotions, not just thought.”
Published 2005 in the Fast Company Magazine, by Alan Deutschman.
Remember: Positive emotions are the best cure; it helps the body to heal itself better.
5. Be Positive
Optimistic and positive people are in general more successful than people with a negative attitude. Happiness makes us successful. Positive feelings make us confident. Positive people see setbacks as temporary, and something that they can control.
Well, how to be optimistic, if you don’t have those positive feelings?
- Focus on what you are grateful for in life. Even if it only is small things.
I do, for example, praise my shower unit. Before we had a shower cubicle out of glass. Now we have a shower with ceramic panels. It’s such a blessing to me not having to polish the glass every time after having had a shower. The ceramic panels do not show any annoying drying marks. Now I don’t hesitate to do a workout or go out running because of not wanting to clean the glass of the shower unit.
- Look back and think about your successes.
Let the positive feelings and joyous memories flood your mind and relive those moments of success.
It doesn’t have to be a glorious success, it might already help to think about « smaller events ». For example, when I don’t feel like doing exercises, I motivate myself by thinking of the great feeling after the training session; the feeling of contentment with myself having won against my inner laziness, and the comfortable relaxing feeling that makes me feel good.
Remember: A positive attitude makes life brighter. It helps to master difficulties and make you more relaxed.
6. Celebrate Your Progress
One of the most powerful methods to motivate yourself is to monitor your progress and celebrate it.
Teresa Amabile’s research, Harvard’s, found that nothing is more motivating than progress in meaningful work:
« People’s inner work lives seemed to lift or drag depending on whether or not their projects moved forward, even by small increments. Small wins often had a surprisingly strong positive effect.»
I can confirm this myself, not only in the workplace but also when working on changing my habits. Each tiny step of progress motivates me to keep going.
- Compare yourself to yourself instead of deflating your motivation by comparing yourself to others who are far ahead of you.
To keep on track I write down my achievements in a small agenda. It is so satisfying to compare and see how far I have come; what habits I have already changed; how many days it is left until I want to have reached my goal; how far I manage to run and in what time, and so on.
- Share your happiness and let people know about your success.
By doing that, you can often help other people motivating themselves. Be aware, though, of not bragging too much, that can have the opposite effect in the end.
Remember: Monitor your progress and celebrate every tiny step!
7. Peer Pressure
Research shows that peer pressure is an excellent help in achieving your goal.
- Surround yourself with people who are like you want to be, and people who have got a positive attitude.
Being around them makes you want to strive for your goals even more. Avoid negative people as much as possible and rather get cheered up by enthusiastic people.
Charles Duhigg confirms this in his excellent book
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business:
«When people join groups where change seems possible, the potential for that change to occur becomes more real. »
The Longevity Project, by Howard S. Friedman and Leslie R. Martin, an eight-decade Study of over 1000 people from youth to death, discovered among many other things following:
« The groups you associate with often determine the type of person you become. For people who want improved health, association with other healthy people is usually the strongest and most direct path of change. »
- Get accountability
Tell your family and friends what your intentions are. Share it on social media, discuss it in person and ask them to check up on you and your progress now and then. This will make more likely for you not to give up as easily.
- Seek motivation from role models you have
There is a massive amount of contributions on the internet with motivating blogs, success stories, youtube videos, and awesome help to be found in tons of books.
Remember: Surround yourself with people with a positive attitude and share your intentions with family and friends.
8. Commitment device*
If you need some more pressure in order to get something done you can make use of a commitment device* (see the explanation below), like for example :
- Choosing to live far away that will force you to walk/bike further back and forth to work. Well, you could also choose a longer route but, most people do not choose the more difficult choice when there is an easier one.
- Buying a yearly gym membership, which will make you not to want to miss a gym class as you have paid for it.
- Betting with a friend that you’ll achieve your goal until a certain date. If not then you’ll invite that person for an expensive dinner or a sports event, or something else that hurt your wallet.
* A commitment device is, according to journalist Stephen J. Dubner and economist Steven Levitt, "a means with which to lock yourself into a course of action that you might not otherwise choose but that produces the desired result". Put differently, a commitment device is a "way to change one's own incentives to make an otherwise empty promise credible".
Remember: Be careful when choosing a commitment device. It must motivate you to follow your intentions and not make it difficult.
9. Reward Yourself
Look for a little treat for yourself as a reward for having achieved a subgoal and fulfill a long-desired wish when having achieved your big goal. Whenever thinking of these future rewards your motivation for changing your lifestyle will go up.
Nice treats along the way to your final goal, for example:
- Go to the movies.
- Enjoy a professional massage.
- Go for a dinner with your spouse or friend, but remember to choose a delicious and healthy meal.
A reward for having achieved your big goal, for example:
- Buy that beautiful dress you have longed for and wear it for a special occasion.
- Visit a great huge sports event, you only have been wishing for since «forever».
- Go on holiday far away, someplace you have been wishing to see since you were a kid.
Remember: Rewarding yourself is a way to tell yourself you have done something good and you may be proud.
10. Change Your Habits Step by Step
Staying focused and follow through your intentions is indeed something that most people are fighting with, including me. Therefore I have come to develop my step by step strategy. It’s so much easier to concentrate on one or two habit changes at a time than trying to change all your habits at once.
For some of you, it may not be motivating if you can’t feel or see the improvement within a short time. First, be aware of giving yourself a realistic time-frame to achieve your goals. Second, of course, you can choose to aim higher and change more things if it serves to find your motivation again. As soon as something starts to feel overwhelming, take a deep breath, and readjust your goal.
Remember: Do not overwhelm yourself. Try to be patient and appreciate each step to improvement. Better a tiny step onward than none at all.
People do not decide their futures,
they decide their habits,
and their habits decide their futures.
Quote by F.M. Alexander*
* « F.M. Alexander (1869-1955) an Australian actor who developed the Alexander Technique, an educational process applied to recognize and overcome reactive, habitual limitations in movement and thinking. Alexander developed his technique's principles in the 1890s in an attempt to address voice loss during public speaking - a probable result of unintentionally retaining childhood asthma breathing problems. He credited his method with allowing him to pursue his passion for reciting in the Shakespearean theater. »
Last But Not Least
Do NOT give up! Dr. Joseph Murphy says in his book, ”behavioural changes are initially big leaps, which suddenly slows down and reaches a plateau. A sudden standstill is absolutely normal. Do NOT give up at this moment! Do Not let a few setbacks throw you off balance. Just like ebb and flow in nature, falling and get back up again to keep going is part of life.”
I use to say, life is like a roller coaster ride. Life goes up and down, sometimes faster sometimes slower. Sometimes thrilling fun, sometimes terribly frightening. Think of the fun parts and you will bear the frightening ones better!
Remember: All attempts wanting to lose weight, gaining fitness, or getting rid of any addictions, won’t be longlasting unless YOU CHANGE YOUR MIND. You have to WANT it, you need a deep-rooted DESIRE. Wishing is not enough!
Are you taking control of your life, or do you let life control you?
Decide today, start changing your habits and create a healthy future.
- Find your WHY
- VISUALIZE your future
- Find PLEASURE
- Get rid of PAIN
- Be POSITIVE
- Celebrate your PROGRESS
- PEER PRESSURE
- COMMITMENT DEVICE
- REWARD yourself
- Change your habits STEP BY STEP
Pernilla's Opinion & Recommendations
I have learned so much from reading books. That's one of my passions - to read and learn.
The following books have helped me tremendously and I can highly recommend them.
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Studies says: There is nothing more motivating than progress.
Check Your Progress – Feel The Success
What do you think ist the most motivating factor for you?
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on how to motivate yourself.