Take action on your goals before its too late.
In the first week of the year I posted a blog on how to use the OST framework to help develop your goals into a more structured format and use the framework to set realistic and time driven goals. We’re now approaching the 10th week of the year, nearly 20% of your year is in the past and do you feel 20% closer to that goal? If so then brilliant, well done but don’t slack off, if not – let’s get re focused and back to work!
Throughout this blog I’m going to discuss some very interesting points on self-motivation and how maybe we can start to look at our current behaviours from a different angle – the angle that works.
Why did you decide what you wanted in the first place?
Humans are motivated by two things: the desire to gain pleasure or the need to avoid pain. It turns out that the need to avoid pain is often the more powerful of the two.
For example, most of us don’t have a problem finding the motivation to stick to responsibilities that affect others. You pick your children up from school because you know if you don’t, they will be stranded and scared. If you didn’t pick them up, it would be psychologically painful, so you take action in order to avoid that pain.
Or, you fill your car with petrol in order to avoid the uncomfortable scenario where you’re the one left stranded and can’t pick anyone up.
The two examples have a common theme – the consequences of not acting are immediate and clear. Therefore, this motivation becomes autonomous.
Think of examples like this in your life and you’ll soon realise what motivation is to you.
How to flip that onto yourself
The biggest reason we don’t do the things we say we want to do is because we haven’t thought about the consequences of our inactions.
This is why some people stay in the same job too long or feel lethargic because they haven’t stuck to a good diet and exercise routine. Most people fail to take into account the pain caused by their inaction. It often goes unnoticed and is a slow-burner, you won’t feel the immediate effects of your inaction but rather you’ll feel the consequences later on down the road.
For example, you may miss a few phone payments and before you know it your phone will be cut off altogether, whereas an accumulation of not exercising will slowly build to a decrease is fitness, weight gain, becoming lethargic and long-term effects could potentially lead to heart disease.
In short, the reason for a lack of motivation is that we don’t link enough pain to our inaction.
The solution – force yourself to see the consequences of your inaction. When it comes to motivating yourself, the idea is to increase the psychological or emotional pain associated with inaction to the point where taking positive action toward your goals is your natural reaction.
Putting this into practice
Pick a specific action that you want/need to take but have been putting off due to a lack of motivation.
List what this lack of action has cost you in the past, present and future?
How does this not taking action negatively affect those around you?
Here’s an example I made up to give you an idea on how to approach the exercise – use the prompts in bold when you do it for yourself.
Action I want/need to take:
What has this cost me in the past? What have I lost because of it?
I’ve suffered with back issues for a long time which I’ve been told is due to being overweight and I’ve often not been able to keep up with the kids on our bikes and just generally round the garden.
What is my lack of action costing me in the present? What am I loosing because of it?
I’m constantly having to buy new clothes as my olds ones don’t fit anymore. I feel sluggish and lethargic and just want to sleep when I get in from work. Recently my doctor has urged me to lose some weight as staying this heavy could lead to a heart attack down the road.
What will with action cost me in 1,3,5 or 10 years from now? What will I lose because of it?
I’m going to miss out on being able to be active with the children, possibly lead to serious health issues and continue to feel crap all the time.
How does this negatively affect those I care about in past, present or future?
My family has been concerned for a while and I’m going to miss out on quality time with my children as they grow up. I’m going to get ill in the future and potentially lose any quality of life as I get older.
Now its your turn…
From answering those simple questions, you can start to build a clear picture of what’s currently happening and what will happen if no action is taken. This is crucial for a behaviour change and the more in depth you answer each question you will make the reasons for change more real.
I’ve picked an example that may not potentially resonate with a lot of our members as we are part of an extremely active community, but you may know someone in that scenario that you could help. You can also use the framework for whatever goal you may have that you’re currently struggling to get going with. Whether it be taking your fitness level to a new level or maybe something completely different like a career change. Remember that your goal may or may not have a significant effect on others but if you can associate the consequences of your inaction to other people you’ll stand a better chance of achieving the behaviour change.
Jonathan Aldridge is co-owner/coach and personal trainer at Optimal Sports Performance. With over 10 years experience in fitness and sports coaching Jonathan aims to help anyone and everyone succeed in their health and fitness journey - feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org for any extra advice or help.