Maximising Your Motivation
By Lucy Braude, Clinical Psychologist
Maximising your motivation
Motivation is a tricky thing. Why do we feel like we can take on the world sometimes, when other times the smallest tasks go straight to the “too hard” basket?
The truth is that motivation is fickle. This is because as humans, our priorities are constantly changing. Sometimes our health and weight loss goals feel important and doable, but at other times work, family, friends and fun take priority. This is normal, but it is difficult to build and maintain healthy habits with fluctuating motivation levels. Here are five simple tips to help.
- What do you need motivation for?
Labelling what you are wanting to motivate yourself to do is important. Is it motivation to exercise? Reducing alcohol? Cooking at home more? General goals of “getting healthy” or “lose some weight” tend to hard to build motivation for as they are vague, broad and overwhelming.
- Write it down: the pros and cons of change
Once you know what you need motivation for, write a list of the pros of making the change, what benefits you will get out of it. It is also important to write a list of the cons next to this – because even the healthiest of habits have cons (eg. time, cost, effort). Now, under these, write lists looking at the pros and cons of not making a change, so keeping everything the exactly as it is now. It might sound strange, but research shows that looking at the whole picture helps us to clarify what we want and feel motivated to make changes.
- Future thinking
Cast your mind forward. If you make this change right now, how will your life look tomorrow? Probably pretty similar, right? But if you keep it going with the change, how will your life look in 6 months, in a year or even in 5 years? Creating healthy habits is likely to have some great flow-on effects in the future. In the same way, have think about how your life will look at these time points if you don’t make any changes. How will you feel then? Will there be any impact to your health or wellbeing?
- Don’t overthink – just do!
We know motivation fluctuates, therefore it is best not to rely on it to influence our behaviour. Instead, focus on the steps to the habit you are creating. Put on your exercise clothes and get out the door, go and buy your meal prep ingredients, walk past that chocolate! If we start thinking “Can I be bothered?” “Do I really have the motivation for this right now?” your brain will find a reason to back out. However, over time if we repeat behaviours they become easier, and we are more likely to find motivation for things that feel easy!
- Expect your motivation to dwindle…and come back
No one feels motivated for anything all the time. Expecting your motivation to change over time means you can separate feeling motivated from action, and complete the action even when you are not motivated to. Also, you can try to harness your motivation by rereading your reasons for change and getting into good habits.