Know your “Why?”

Knowing the “Why?” behind your goals and new habits motivates you to conquer inevitable challenges.

Do This Now

  • Write down your Why? list, a list of reasons for achieving each of your goals.

Advice

  • Questions to spur your thinking include: What are the benefits of forming this new habit? How will the new habit improve your life?
  • If you struggle to think of personal motivations for your goals, carefully consider if these are the most important goals. Your reasons should be both emotionally and intellectually compelling.
  • ‘Cup check’ your Why? list. Visualize yourself in difficult situations, then read through your Why? list and see if you can mentally persist through the difficulty.
  • Create reminders of your Why? list. For example, visual reminders like post-it notes or pictures, or mental reminders like affirmations or mantras.

Examples

  • Nutrition: I am sick of feeling foggy after lunch and not being able to do my work. I want to reduce the flab around my stomach. I want to fit into my skinny jeans.
  • Fitness: I want to join my friends when they go hiking and not feel like I’m holding everyone back. I want to feel like I can defend myself. I want to feel stronger.
  • Mental Health: I want to stop feeling like my mind is racing beyond my control. I want to be able to focus when it matters to me.
  • Sleep: I want to have the energy to enjoy the day, not just get through it. I want to be a sparkplug for my kids to teach and explore with them, not lag behind and slow them down.
  • Resources
    Create Your Own Motivational Posters

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    • Deci, Edward L., and Richard M. Ryan. “Self-determination theory: A macrotheory of human motivation, development, and health.” Canadian psychology/Psychologie canadienne 49.3 (2008): 182.
      1. Self-determination theory (SDT) is an empirically based theory of human motivation, development, and wellness. The theory focuses on types, rather than just amount, of motivation, paying particular attention to autonomous motivation, controlled motivation, and amotivation as predictors of performance, relational, and well-being outcomes. It also addresses the social conditions that enhance versus diminish these types of motivation, proposing and finding that the degrees to which basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness are supported versus thwarted affect both the type and strength of motivation. SDT also examines people’s life goals or aspirations, showing differential relations of intrinsic versus extrinsic life goals to performance and psychological health.

    Visualize the path to success

    Understand the work it will take to realize your goals.

    Do This Now

    • Visualize the process of what needs to be done to achieve your goals, including the obstacles you will need to overcome. This mental practice focuses your attention on the process and reduces anxiety.

    Advice

    • Visualizing just the success at the end can actually reduce your motivation, because you are effectively experiencing a taste of success without any effort.
    • To help illuminate the journey, we can learn from the experience of role models and read about others’ success stories.
    • To bolster your confidence, you can visualize your past successes.
    • Mental Contrasting, the WOOP technique, and NLP’s Swish technique can be helpful.

    Examples

  • Nutrition: I can see myself learning which healthy foods also taste great, going to the grocery store after work for supplies, and then finding time on the weekends to cook.
  • Fitness: I can watch myself putting on my gym clothes after having my coffee and going to the gym around the corner.
  • Mental Health: I can see myself waking up, turning off my alarm, drinking water, and then sitting down on a pillow for some quiet time to start the day.
  • Sleep: I usually wake up at 7am. That means I can turn off my laptop and phone at 10pm, brush my teeth, and get into bed.
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    Let go of the past

    Release any identities or roles that will prevent you from creating your new habits.

    Do This Now

    • As you visualize success, check in with yourself to ensure that your planned habits are congruent with your values, identities, and roles.

    Advice

    • In the areas you wish to change, raise your standards. Write down where you are now, what you want to become and achieve, and what you will no longer accept or tolerate to get there. For example, transform “I can’t” into “I don’t”.
    • You can use ‘temporal landmarks’ like moving or changing jobs to mentally separate from your ‘past self’.

    Examples

  • Nutrition: I am ready to move beyond being the fat kid. I don’t eat others’ leftovers. I don’t take the easy way out and get fast food for lunch.
  • Fitness: I am not weak, I just haven’t trained enough. I can put in the strength work to become stronger.
  • Mental Health: I do not have this self-diagnosed ADD, that is a mental model I have created. I can and will work gain mastery over my mind.
  • Sleep: I am not too busy to sleep. I do not need to prove I am working hard by how late I stay at the office or answer e-mails.
  • Learn More

     

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