The REAL Way To Motivate Yourself
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Notes from The REAL Way To Motivate Yourself
Talk by Harriet Morris
Whatever you want to change in your life, there are some general principles that will increase your chances of success:
Step One – Change One Thing At A Time
Identify the main leverage points for you, meaning the changes that will ensure the greatest success. Then choose THE most powerful one. For example the reason you gain weight may have a lot to do with your evening sugar fix. So instead of trying to count calories AND exercise an hour a day AND give up carbs AND learn to cook AND attempt 30 press ups a day, start with the goal of for example either cutting out all processed sugar for a limited time or just cut out processed sugar after 5pm, depending on the level of challenge you can cope with.
Once you have got comfortable with this one change, you can tackle exercising more for example (you could equally choose the exercise as your first thing to change. It’s really up to you).
Step Two – Habit Change Is The Key
The brain likes shortcuts, and so once we learn how to do anything, this knowledge gets filed away in our subconscious – it becomes automatic. I call the the Effortless Tipping Point (ETP). If you repeat an action often enough, your brain will assume it’s the easiest shortcut and you’ll start doing it automatically. This is essentially why habit change is a superpower.
Step Three – Accept That Habit Change is Uncomfortable But That Discomfort is Temporary
Most people never reach the ETP because they refuse to accept the discomfort once their (naturally short-lived) willpower/motivation dries up. The tragedy of this is that if they could just find crafty and creative ways to get under the radar of their own self-sabotage, and weather the discomfort, they would reach the ETP and things would start to get much, much easier. Think of the discomfort as the payment for the prize of being able to “just do” that thing you wish you could do (exercise more often, give up junk food X etc etc).
The payment will NOT last forever. A few weeks, a few months maybe – depending on the habit change and other factors.
The feeling of reaching the ETP is so powerful that you realise that you can achieve far more in life than you had realised. You can apply the principles of habit change to other areas of your life – financial management, finding or improving a relationship, dealing with stress – because change is really about the daily rituals you develop. It’s all very well to resolve to for example get out of debt, but change will only happen via the daily ritual of budgeting (as well as others).
And it is through these rituals that we create a firm foundation for changing our lives.
Step Four – Replace Motivation With Momentum
(You can also use the idea of momentum to replace willpower). Most people, when they fail to implement habit change 100% immediately, decide that they are inherently faulty as if we should be some sort of personal development robots. THIS IS TOXIC NONSENSE. “I just lack motivation” they say, as if motivation is something they should possess but careless lost one day.
The truth is that motivation is just another word for purpose. It’s not enough to see you through the challenges of real life. Nobody is 100% purpose-driven 24/7 – so stop demanding this of yourself.
The trick is to replace motivation with momentum.
Motivation = a fixed idea
Momentum = takes you towards your goal
Anyone at any time can have momentum. For example if the person wanting to give up sugar in the evening falls off the wagon and has a binge, they feel pretty disconnected from their motivation. However, they can do one small thing to have momentum – for example if they had one packet of sugary snacks, they can acknowledge this could have been 2 packets, but wasn’t. It could have been worse. They can plan a more nutritious day the next day which will probably help prevent hunger in the evening (a possible cause of the binge).
I am a proud imperfectionist, and I want you to be one too. It’s the guilt and shame around our slip ups, rather than the slip ups themselves, that causes us to turn those slip ups into long running failures.
When you focus on momentum as opposed to motivation – because it takes harsh self-judgment out of the equation – you are far more likely to be consistent and reach the ETP sooner.
The three types of momentum are:
.1.CURIOSITY – gets you out of a failure mindset
.2.CREATIVITY – helps you find crafty ways to weather the temporary discomfort until you reach the ETP. If you are giving up an unhealthy habit, creativity gets you to try out replacements.
Here are four creative ways to weather temporary discomfort:
*Text Salvation – you need to choose a buddy for this. Next time you are craving that thing you are trying to give up, get your phone out and text your buddy: “I want X right now, it’s tough. I just need to hold out for five minutes. I’ll text you then”. Now you only have to distract yourself for 5 minutes, which gives you the chance to walk away from the item in question and gives you vital accountability. Be sure to let your buddy know you don’t need an immediate reply to your text. It’s sending the text that is the important thing here.
*Temptation Bundling – good for getting over the resistance to introducing healthy but potentially what seem like boring habits, such as doing light hand weights or CV workouts. Do your workout while listening to, or watching something that gives you pleasure. I started off with half hour episodes of Frasier, then progressed to audiobooks. The important thing is you do a deal with yourself: you can enjoy that programme you love every time you work out; but that is ONLY time you can enjoy it. I found I only needed temptation bundling for a few weeks until I started to naturally look forward to exercising . This was great as by this time I was bored of Frasier!
* Find What Really Engages You – high-flown noble reasons for habit change don’t always get us to do the thing we need to do when resistance is looming. So what will? For example telling my son he can have a treat if I achieve X by the time he comes home from school works because the thought of seeing his disappointed face is far more persuasive than any tick chart could ever be! (Obviously don’t help your kids develop unhealthy habits to reduce yours! Maybe your child could get a treat like a new Lego set if you complete x number of days of habit change. Use your imagination and with older kids, enlist their creative ideas. Of course this will involve wildly expensive treats for minimal effort, but at least you can have a laugh with them “What, you get a new X Box if I go three days without sugar? Nice try, son” ;)….).
*Change Your Environment. If the junk ain’t there, you can’t eat it. Lay your workout gear in a prominent place the night before you go to the gym. In the early days of giving up sugar, I threw a sickie when I was supposed to go to a wedding (not a close friend) because I knew the sugary foods there would be too much to resist. I know how extreme this sounds, and you don’t have to go this far – but identify your challenges ahead of time and avoid if necessary. You could for example eat a very nutritious meal before the wedding buffet, preventing hunger pangs, and pretend you have stomach ache.
.3.CONNECTION – if everyone around you is changing habits then it’s much much easier for you to gain momentum. Unfortunately 99% of people are so anti-discomfort that – apart from the period 1st to 31st January every year – it can be a lonely job to change your habits.
This is why coaching is such a powerful support for any major habit change. You can’t change everyone around you, but you CAN get that much-needed one-to one help when you most need it. I can also give you creative ideas for change and get your curious instead of critical during this life-changing time in your life.
To find out more about the Change One Thing & Change Your Life coaching programme, go to www.TheShiftInside.com/change
To apply for this programme, visit www.TheShiftInside.com/apply