Last time I wrote about detoxing your life to boost confidence, I suggested that—like a recent client of mine—you ask yourself some pointed questions and then create a sort of image of how your ideal life would look. We used that as a catalyst for change and to hone in on a goal.
Now, it’s time to focus on finding and holding onto that inner motivation longterm: First, I want you to think about what motivates you. Is it inspiration or desperation?
People’s motivation comes from different places. For example, some are more motivated to move away from unpleasant situations rather than closer to ideal ones. So, someone who wants to lose weight could either be motivated because he or she dislikes being overweight or because he or she wants to be fit and healthy.
What kind of person are you?
If you are someone who is motivated by discontent and a desire for change, write down all the consequences and negative side effects of not achieving your goal. If you are motivated by future possibilities and dreams, then write down all the great benefits of reaching your goal.
Here is an exercise which will help to train your brain to keep you motivated, when you feel lethargic or directionless:
1. Think of something that you love doing with which the rewards are so great that you actually want to do it. Remember this experience and make it so vivid and detailed that it looks like a movie in your head.
2. Now set this image aside and exhale, clearing your mind.
3. Think about an object you don’t care about like a window or cup and really experience the feelings of not caring about it.
4. Again, clear your mind by taking a deep breath.
5. Note down the differences between what you find attractive and what you didn’t care about. For example, things you care about may be brighter, bigger, closer, have vivid associations and make you feel happy.
Now that you’ve observed how your brain processes both these experiences, you can use this technique to help you enact those things you are not that excited about doing. For example, one of my clients observed that she found foods attractive like chocolate and chips, with many dimensions and colors, whereas she saw vegetables as dull and one-dimensional. Through practice, she managed to change how she saw vegetables and other non-appealing foods by envisioning them as having more detail and vibrancy. This really worked in terms of achieving her goal of eating healthier.
Another essential motivational technique involves drawing inspiration from successful individuals: people in the public eye or friends. This technique is called, “Modeling.”
Think about people you have observed who impress you with what they’ve achieved. Decide who these people are and decide what personality traits and characteristics they possess, which have helped them achieve what they want. Are they people who always seem to have drive and passion?
Adopt these beneficial characteristics for yourself and reference these models to keep yourself inspired and striving toward your goal. This doesn’t mean you should be comparing yourself to them, but simply highlighting what is great about them and what you’d like to mimmic and make part of your new life.
One such example could be J.K. Rowling. She was a single, unemployed mother, who sat in cafés nursing espresso for hours, working on her first book while her baby slept by her side. The first Harry Potter manuscript was supposedly rejected by three British publishers, but she was motivated and eventually got what she desired. The rest is history.
Now that you have some vital tools to keep you motivated, think about the actions you’ll need to take in order to achieve your goal.
Write down all your options. Some of them may scare you; others may seem impossible—but forget those issues. Just write them all down. Remember to be honest. Saying you don’t know what to do is a cop out. Instead, think hard and ask yourself, if you did know what you needed to do, what would it be? It helps to ask yourself questions to decide what actions you need to take like:
1. To whom do I need to talk?
2. How will I need to structure my day?
3. What do I need to stop and start doing?
Once you have your list, put the items into the “Actions” section of the plan we started in the last column. Most importantly, make sure you put a date and even a time next to each action, thereby agreeing to when you will begin. You may find it useful to write them in your diary or calendar, as well.