Why Your Motivations Aren’t Motivating You

You’ve started a new program that’s going to change your life. You’re sick and tired of the way things are and, this time things are going to be different.

You feel incredibly motivated. You can’t wait to get going and see results.

The first few days or even a whole week goes by and you’re fired up, following the program and maybe starting to see your first few results.

Then reality sets in. You get busy. That fire that got you going starts to fizzle. Everything required by that new program starts to seem harder and harder to fit into your life.

You start to slip back into your old routine and decide that this program, like all the others that you’ve tried, doesn’t work.

You completely lost your motivation.

What Was Your Motivation?

What exactly was your motivation in the first place? To get in shape, lose 15 pounds, fit into that little black dress, look great at a big event? If any of those sound like your motivation, it wasn’t enough to keep you going. You need to understand WHY those things are important to you.

If you don’t have a strong enough ‘why,’ it will be an uphill battle to stick with your new program.

Motivations that don’t work (source is outside of yourself):

  • My doctor/partner/friend/kids/whoever told me that I should lose weight/improve my health.
  • It would probably be good for me if I lost weight/improved my health.
  • I know I should lose weight and start eating better.
  • Others would more readily accept me if I was thinner.

Motivations that work in the short term (source may be outside yourself or internal):

  • I want to fit into my little black dress for a big event (success depends on how important it is to impress certain people at that event).
  • I want to run a certain race on a certain date (are you doing this for yourself or someone else?).
  • I want to prove to someone that I can do it.

Motivations that give lasting results (source is internal and aligns with your values and beliefs):

  • Heart disease runs in my family and my mother/father died at my age. I don’t want to die.
  • My child came to me, knowing how unhealthy my habits are, and said in a frightened way that she didn’t want me to die. She want me around for a long time for her.
  • I don’t want to be that kind of person (i.e. unhealthy, overweight, etc.) anymore. That’s no longer who I am.
  • I know that my children emulate me. I don’t want them to develop the same unhealthy habits I have had that have led to my health issues.
  • I want to have enough energy to play with my kids/grandkids and create amazing experiences with them.

What Is Motivation?

As defined by Wikipedia, motivation is the process used to allocate energy to maximize the satisfaction of needs.

This begs the question: What needs do you most want to satisfy?

Why is it important for you to make a change now?

How important is it to you? Not for anyone else.

If you don’t make changes now, what will your life look like in one, five, or ten years? What will be different?

How will you feel if you put this off again?

How do these answers compare with your need to keep things in your life the same?

Think you don’t have time?

How much time does it take to make a choice? Notice how you feel in the current moment and make a conscious choice about your next action. Consider whether your next action, regardless of how small, will take you closer to or farther from your goal.

Most of us run through life making unconscious choices, and we wonder why we have the results we do.

Stop for a moment and think about where you spend your time. Do you realize that you’re making those things very valuable to you?

If you like how you feel about those thoughts, then there’s not much of a need for change. If those thoughts are a bit of a wake-up call for you, then it’s time to be more intentional with how you spend your time.

It doesn’t take any extra time to simply make a different choice.

It’s time to find your personal motivation that will help you to make those different choices on a consistent basis, even when things get tough.

Find the Motivation That Works for You

Write down why it’s important to you to make the changes that you’re seeking right now. Write down all your reasons. Make absolutely sure that whatever you write down makes you feel really good or really bad. This is essential!

No negatives: not, never, should, shouldn’t, can’t, won’t. No doing things to please other people. This is just for you. Don’t give yourself any backdoors. Give yourself 100% commitment. You’re not committed if you say anything like, “I’ll do it until…” or “I’ll keep up with it unless…” With 100% commitment, you leave yourself no options.

Keep Your Motivation in Front of You

Write down your reasons for changing on six pieces of paper (six copies of the same answers) and put those pieces of paper on your:

  • bathroom mirror
  • credit cards
  • computer monitor
  • refrigerator
  • bedside table
  • dashboard of your car

Find an image of your ‘why’ and use it as your screensaver and desktop image on your computer, phone and tablets. This could be an image that conveys how you’ll feel when you’re healthy and happy and feeling amazing. Use visual cues to keep your motivation connected.

Avoid comparing yourself to others. Everybody is unique. Everybody is beautiful. By comparing yourself to others, especially using the comparison as ‘motivation,’ you will inevitably begin to judge yourself as better or worse than the images of others in your head. Judgment and self-criticism will reverse any progress you make.

As you read the pieces of paper and see the images of your ‘why’ throughout your day, feel the feelings of your ‘why.’ Visualize and feel what your life is like when you’re living how you want to live, when you’re making choices throughout your day that support your vision of the new you.

Doing this in small increments, even for a few seconds, many times throughout your day will help to reinforce your drive, your motivation.

This article first appeared on GoalsOnTrack Blog. It is written by Paige Oldham, who created Simple Mindfulness to support you in new, mindful ways of being that will allow you to live a happier and more fulfilled life.

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