Where does your motivation come from? Are you motivated by money, power, control, success, pleasing others, or altruism? Often people are motivated at their core by either fear or guilt. Our past experiences with parents, teachers, coaches, bosses and peers may reinforce these motivators. Although fear and guilt motivators may provide an initial push to take action, in the long run they won’t help you finish the race. Both fear and guilt are external motivators meaning they come from outside of us instead of being internally driven. When we change a behavior for someone else (external motivation) it usually doesn’t stick. We need to have an emotional investment and ownership in the change process. Consider choosing internal motivators like self-respect or self-love. For example, giving up smoking will be more successful if we do it for ourselves instead of based on the guilt others place on us.
Fear and guilt are powerful emotions which is why we often rely on them to change our behaviors. The problem with these emotions is that not only does the change seldom last, but that we may resent the external source (or person) after a while because we never bought into the need for change. When we focus our attention on ways to build ourselves up we ignite the internal motivators. We need to be cognizant of our positive attributes and forgive ourselves for failures instead of perpetually punishing ourselves when we make mistakes. Our perception of ourselves is tied into our motivation.
How do we get started? The first step is setting goals and ways to measure your progress. In many instances it takes action and impetus to get the ball rolling. Remember it takes 30-66 days of a consistent behavior for it to become a habit. We also need to have the right attitude and believe in ourselves even if we are “faking it till we make it”. Like the little engine that could, we need to repeat “I think I can, I think I can.” This positive and encouraging self-talk helps as does rewarding our efforts along the way. We also can choose to focus on the process and journey rather than looking ahead to the outcome. Adopt the AA mantra, “one day at a time.” When we focus on our positive attributes and recognize our value it makes it easier to keep the momentum going. Create the catalyst and recognize the benefits of change. Motivation is an inside job and you can make it happen when you decide that you desire a different life.