Sometimes the hardest thing for people is finding a way to motivate themselves. They say they want to do something and they don’t do it. One of the most important things about motivating yourself and staying motivated is to know your own motivation triggers.
For those of you who know me, you know a lot about my book, “Words That Change Minds” which talks about all these different motivation triggers. But, let’s talk about some specific things that are important to you but you have trouble either getting motivated or staying motivated.
Most people’s long term goals don’t give them immediate satisfaction, but the critical action times for motivating yourself are in the here and now. If you want to get fit, for example, and every day you decide you’re going to get up and go for a run. I’m talking about this because this is something that I do and some days I don’t do, every day is the important piece for your long term goal of getting fit. But how do you motivate yourself to get out of bed when you’re actually comfortable? Or how do you keep motivating yourself to stick to the nutrition routine that you’ve decided for your long term goal? I’m learning the German language and I have a lesson every week, and I need to put in more time. How do I succeed at motivating myself to do that?
Let’s look at a couple of things. Sometimes people have goals, but they don’t get started. And the reason they don’t get started is they think the goal is important, but it’s not urgent enough to do now. So they have a “toward” pattern in that they want to move towards the goal, but nothing makes it happen right now.
There’s nothing that makes you do something right now like an emergency or something that’s urgent. So if you don’t get started on the goal that’s important to you, it’s because you haven’t figured out what you want to move “away from”.
Let’s just take an example that I’ve lived a few times and that is I decide I would have a new weight, a lower weight. So I set my weight goal and I start to move towards it. Why not? Well, what I need is an image in my head of what I don’t want to make it an emergency.
Instead I need to get up, and look in the mirror– before I get stressed and say, “Ack!” Now that’s an emergency, right? That will get me started on a new routine of walking and running and a new nutrition program, etc. But the problem with goals that you do because you want to move away from a problem, is if you go, “Ack! I don’t want to look like that. Ack! I don’t want to feel like that,” is you have a very strong motivation at the beginning, but it doesn’t hold.
So if you want to keep motivating yourself every day, you need to have something to move away from and something to move towards. So here’s another trick: if you’re trying to continue motivating yourself just by talking to yourself, it’s usually not strong enough. You need to create an image in your mind of both of what you don’t want and what you do want.
What you don’t want will push you away and what you do want will draw you towards your goal. So if you have both of those motivation types, “the away from” and the “toward”, that’s even stronger.
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Here are a couple of other tips. If you have a set process that you incorporate into your day, chances are you will remember to follow it. Particularly, if you have your “toward”, your “away from” and your “toward image” set up so that you can move towards.
Now, how do you do that? Everybody has rituals. Put your new behavior or the thing you want to do inside one of the rituals or procedures that you already follow. So let’s say I’d like to take vitamins. Well, if I put the vitamins away in the cupboard, every morning I go and make my breakfast, I don’t even remember to take those vitamins.
I want this motivation thing to be easy. I don’t want to feel like I’m pushing a rock every day. So how do you do the vitamin thing in an easy way? Well, if you have tea or coffee in the morning, put the vitamins beside the kettle or in the teapot or in a coffee pot. When you see that, you’ll also see the vitamins much easier, no effort to remember.
The easiest way to have a new behavior and maintain it once you have the motivation pieces in place is to insert the new behavior inside a process or a procedure that you already do.
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