Motivation is defined as the desire to act in service of a goal. It’s the crucial element in setting and attaining our objectives. Before setting out new goals to achieve, it is important to know the driving force behind wanting to achieve these particular goals. When you look to introduce a new behavior change into your life, the idea of motivation often takes center stage.
People wonder how to capture it and turn it on when they need to; when we can’t, we often judge ourselves negatively. This is especially true in light of social media, where everyone ‘seemingly’ has so much drive and motivation. The truth is you can’t just turn on this magical force when you need it, but you can reframe what motivation means to you. Let’s start with the word ‘motivation’, detach the idea of it being energy or a force. Instead, consider the idea that motivation is the ability to provide a motive – a strong underpinning of why something is important to you.
Build this motive by considering:
- How it will help you in the long term
- Where it will take you
- How it will make you feel
When you give yourself a motive, you no longer need to be driven by external motivation like social media posts or comparing yourself to ideals portrayed by others. You give yourself motivation. Once you have established a motive, the action becomes more manageable, but that’s not to say it becomes easy.
The next place we see challenge is during the ‘take-off’ or ‘onramp phase’, which makes sense. Behavior change takes motion – Newton’s first rule of motion is: An object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
What does that mean for us? Well, getting things moving requires lots of force, which translates to lots of discipline, resources, and some of that newly developed motivation. Addressing this problematic ‘onramp’ period needs attention and consideration.
3 Tips to boost motivation:
1. Start with basics
When choosing what to focus our resources on, we often skip the basics.
Take a common body composition goal: ‘I want to lose weight off my arms. In a bid to do this, one might start to do exercises that target this area and consume foods that are ‘effective’ at promoting weight loss in this area.
A more effective approach might be to consider what basics have been ignored that led to this. For example, the individual might be sleeping only 6 hours a night – inducing hormonal havoc and leading the individual to feel tired consistently – downstream, this results in a lack of energy to be active and food cravings. The specific changes you implement downstream will either be ineffective or hard to maintain without addressing the upstream basics.
If a new hire joins your team, you wouldn’t give them all the information you know about the company and role on day 1, would you?
You would layer the information gradually as you know it will stick easier this way. You wouldn’t teach a 5-year-old algebra before they can count to 20, but why, when it comes to wellbeing, do we think we can skip the steps and jump straight to the finished product immediately.
Another example closer to home might be that you may want to start running; but you wouldn’t look up the training routine of Eliud Kipchoge – the man with the fastest marathon time ever. You might look at a couch to 5k program or go on a few jogs around your local park. Apply this principle to all your wellbeing goals and start small.
Here are some examples:
- Layout your exercise clothes each night for 1 week – regardless of whether you choose to exercise the next day or not.
- Walk 8,000 steps every day – even if you think you can do more
- No weeknight dessert – even if you rarely allow yourself to anyway
As humans, we love progression; it stimulates us, to say our micro-goals out loud, write them down, tells them to those around us – these all help with adherence. Then add a layer next week. If you can do one this week, with some moderate practice, you could probably do two next week and the week after 3. At this pace of adding one push-up per week, in 1 year, you could do over 50. Consistency is almost always more potent regarding wellbeing than short-term intensity. Start small, be consistent, build momentum.
3. Simplify your goals
Nothing stops progress dead in its tracks like an unclear task. We often are hard on ourselves for ‘procrastinating’ or being ‘lazy’ when a task has been hanging over our heads for a long time. In reality, we may just need to give it a quick review. Here are some examples:
- Clean the house – this might have been on your to-do list for weeks, but somehow, you have not gotten around to it.
- On Saturday morning, spend 1-hour emptying and cleaning out the fridge.
- Make food shopping list for the week
You will be far more likely to do this as the process is streamlined and some barriers have been removed. How about something from a health context? Losing 10kg – 10kg is a considerable amount of weight to lose that can’t be done safely in a short period; you are losing the equivalent of 20 large blocks of butter off your body after all. As a result, you may lose some weight and think you are still way off your big picture goal and thus lose motivation.
Here is a restructure:
- Lose 1% of my total body weight in the next 14 days
- Safe and consistent weight loss guidelines suggest a weight loss goal of 1/2% to 1% weight loss per week. For a 100kg male, that would be 500g-1kg per week or 2-4kg a month.
- Structured goals like this break down your big picture goals into more digestible pieces and thus help maintain motivation.
So, there you have it. We hope that this has helped you identify some areas that you may find yourself needing to focus on for you to reach your goals.
If you want to learn more about motivation and how to instill motivation among your employees, explore our broad range of workshops below.