Six Steps to Motivate Change
Many of us have goals and dreams but we can’t always motivate ourselves to achieve them. We know we should exercise every day and eat fruit or vegetables with every meal. We know we shouldn’t put off mowing the lawn and filing away our paperwork. We wish we could study for an extra qualification and read Shakespeare. So why don’t we do it? What’s stopping us?
Lack of motivation is often the problem. Sometimes we really want to do something, we know it would benefit our life or career, but we just can’t get started. I understand how hard it can be sometimes to get motivated and so I have put together six tips to help you. For the maximum effect you should work on all of these tips in the order listed, but any of them will help to boost your motivational powers.
One – Display Your Dream
If you fantasise about living in a dream house or of being slim and healthy, then find a representation of your goal. For example, have a photo of your dream house as your computer wallpaper, or in a frame on your mantlepiece. If you’re desperate to be slim, find a photo of someone who is the shape you’d like to be and display it prominently. It could be someone famous, or yourself in slimmer days.
Keeping the image of your end goal conspicuous will keep you focused on what you really want. It will remind you to work hard, sort out your finances, enrol for a course or stop eating chocolate. It’s easy to forget what you’re working towards when you’re caught up in every day life, but keeping your goal visible has a huge motivating effect.
Two – Ramp Up the Discontent
Being fully aware of the downside or your current situation is a very powerful motivator. It takes a lot of impetus to change ingrained behaviour and so you need to feel uncomfortable in your present situation to feel motivated to change. Human beings can, unfortunately, adapt only too well to situations that are less than ideal. This is a useful survival instinct if you’re powerless to change your situation (for example a hostage) but is less useful for most of us who do have the power to change our behaviour.
If we’re only mildly dissatisfied then we’ll put up with a mediocre job, being overweight, or other situations which aren’t ideal for us. The solution is to ramp up our discontent with our present situation. That doesn’t mean being negative or depressed, but merely understanding that we deserve better. Make a list on paper of all the disadvantages of your current state. For example if you eat unhealthily you could list the fact that you get indigestion, are overweight, have high blood pressure, your clothes feel tight, etc. By focusing on these negatives, you’ll be magnifying your motivation to change.
Three – Shout About the Benefits
Having evoked a strong desire to change it’s now important to dwell on the future benefits of achieving your goal. Make another list, but this time of the advantages of being a healthy eater, or gaining a new qualification.
For example, when you’re slim you’ll look great and feel comfortable in all your clothes, your blood pressure may go down and you won’t feel out of breath when you walk up stairs. When you pass your exam, you’ll be able to apply for better jobs, may be eligible for promotion in your existing workplace and it’ll boost your confidence. Display this list of benefits on your fridge or above your computer, next to your ‘goal image’. It will help to boost your motivation levels on a daily basis.
Four – Make an Action Timetable
Your motivation should be high by now, so it’s time to take action. Draw up a timetable of steps you need to take to achieve your goal. For example, you may need to research possible qualifications online, send off for a college prospectus and then fill in an application form. Or you may need to go shopping for healthy foods and research some low-fat recipes to cook. Knowing what you need to do to achieve your dream and making a list of actions to take, will send a strong message to yourself that you’re serious this time.
Five – Remove Temptation
You will also need to remove anything that could tempt you to indulge in the wrong kind of behaviour and make your surroundings favourable for success. For example if you want to lose weight, then parcel up all the fattening food in the house and give it away. It’s almost impossible to eat healthily when you’re surrounded by biscuits and cakes; very few people have that much willpower, especially when trying to establish a new habit! If you need to keep unhealthy food around for other people living in the house, then at least keep it out of sight.
If your goal is to study then create a favourable environment, where you can sit quietly and concentrate. Enlist the help of your family to make sure you’re not disturbed when you’re studying and remove temptations from the room, like novels, televisions or smart phones.
Six – Record Your Progress
This last step is very important. Any progress you make should be recorded in a notebook or spreadsheet. Note down each hour you’ve spent studying, every day that you’ve managed to eat healthily, or every monetary amount you add to your dream house fund. It’s vital that you know you’re advancing towards your goal if you’re to keep your motivation high.
It’s easy to get discouraged if you feel you’re progressing too slowly, but every pound lost, every assignment written and every pound or dollar saved, is an important step towards your dream. It’s vital that you’re aware of this headway and the only way to know how well you’re doing is to record it religiously.
Now You Know You Can
Work through these tips by making sure that you display an image of your goal, are discontented, shout about the benefits, make an action timetable, remove temptation and record your progress. By doing all of this you’ll crank up your motivation sky-high and keep it up there. You won’t fall off the wagon part-way through the process but will be fully aware of why you want to change, what you need to do and the fact that you are doing it.
Start now. Achieve your goals and when you do, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it years ago. Lead the life you want to and get what you want. The solution is in your hands now.