Motivating Yourself to Start Doing “Whatever”

Written by Dr. John Townsend

March 5, 2019

We all have some “whatever” that we just can’t motivate ourselves to start taking steps towards weight loss, job changes, marriage improvement, self-image growth, budgeting, health, and dating, for example.  And there is a big gap between wanting a change, and actually doing the behaviors required to make the changes. But there are things you can do today, actually right now, to translate your “want” to action. By the way, this article isn’t a “path to success”, that’s a different blog.  It’s more of a “get motivated to start by some good action steps” procedure. Here are the tips:

Clarify your “why”.  Write down and read through several times, why this area of self-improvement is so important to you.  Motivation comes from values and desires from deep within our brain, and they are very powerful to change behavior if we understand them.  For example, say you want to lose 30 pounds. Your “why” might be because you want to feel better, to have more energy, to be a better mom or dad to your kids, to live a longer and more productive life, or to be able to wear skinny jeans!  Whatever the “why” is, it has to be more than a thought, it must involve a feeling that also resonates inside. Keep working on it until you have it clarified.

Visualize the positive outcome.  This is basically unpacking the “why” and applying it to the future.  Write down a description of how you will experience life without the extra weight.  It might be something like “I’ll wrestle with my kids more in the living room because I feel good and have the energy to spare.”  Some sort of “video” makes things more real and vivid for us.

Focus at least 3 times a day until you actually “do” a behavior.  Research on motivation and change shows us that in some area of life that we often get stuck, or paralyzed, or afraid to do some step. If this has been true for you, give yourself time to think and reflect on the “why,” intentionally focusing on that area. Your brain will enter a state of readiness and be prepared for that step.  In the example of weight loss, that might mean signing up for a weight loss class. That’s a commitment and an action.

Let 3 people know.   You need people on your team here!  Just letting them know about your “why” and what your first step will be, is a tremendous motivator.  They become your cheering section, and this will help you with that next action.

Motivation can lead to behavior, and behavior to change.  I hope the best for you!

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