“What did you learn today? What mistake did you make that taught you something? What did you try hard at today?” –Carol Dweck
Introspection is an act of self-care that often goes overlooked when we consider our goals and motivations to achieve them. Seeking purpose in our lives is human nature, and there is no better time than the present to sit down and contemplate a few big questions regarding your life and overall wellbeing. Now is the time to answer the call of your value and purpose and become aware of what is propelling you forward, and conversely, what could be holding you back. By doing this, you will be better prepared for the peaks and pitfalls of working toward your goals and asserting what type of motivation fits best for you. Your personal pursuits and purpose is just that, unique to you and is not one-size-fits-all.
“No matter what your current ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.” –Carol Dweck
Digging In: Asking Ourselves the Important Questions
What’s important to you? Are you afraid or doubtful of making changes or taking risks? What’s missing from your life? What’s currently helping you, or harming your success toward achieving your goals or your higher self? Are you enjoying your journey? Hopefully, these questions have you thinking introspectively about yourself, your goals, and what is truly pushing you forward (or pulling you back). It’s important to ask ourselves these types of questions regularly to maintain focus and motivation in pursuit of achieving our best selves.
Defining Your Motivation
What Is Your “Why?”
Everyone has a “why.” This is your undeniable inner purpose, cause or belief that inspires you – and it may change over time. Knowing your “why” gives you a filter to make choices, both at work and at home, that will help you find greater fulfillment in all that you do. Give yourself a few moments to really contemplate the “why(s)” in your life. This is the time you should do some more of that curious introspection, without judgment and decide what’s pushing you toward making a positive change. Long-term motivation must come from within to successfully accomplish goals. Once you’ve carved out your “why” and exactly what is motivating you to accomplish these goals, use it to continuously push yourself forward. Write down this “why” and place it somewhere you can see it every day. This process may even include discovering new motivational factors that you never thought of!
First, write down your goal and why you want to work toward it. Is this a goal you feel forced into? Or is this goal for your general wellbeing and happiness with life? Studies show that when we write down our goals, they are more likely to become reality. Then, list three to five motivators driving you toward achieving your goal – including your main “why” that we talked about earlier. After listing the inspirational factors behind what motivates you, make a list of how you’re already capable of achieving this goal. We often neglect to see how we are already capable in the first place!
Example: Amanda has chosen to increase her physical activity minutes during the work week to help better manage stress due to a work-life imbalance. Her driving “why” is the desire to improve the quality of life she shares with her son and husband. Other motivators include: a sense of accomplishment after walking and the enjoyment she gets from dedicated time for sorting out thoughts or taking a few breaths. Knowing what excites you to act is the key to staying inspired. Amanda knows she is determined and will be capable of achieving her goal because of this.
Exploring Two Types of Motivation
There are two main types of motivation – intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivators come from within. Our deepest-rooted desires have the highest motivational power. Examples include acceptance, curiosity, independence, control and healing. Extrinsic motivators are external in nature. The most well-known and arguably influential extrinsic motivational force is money. Others include health care benefits, bonuses, recognition and awards.
Embrace Your Desire and Manifest It
Once you have written down your “why” and placed it in a location you look daily, now it’s time to manifest your goal. Visualize where you’ll be once you achieve your goal. Imagine how you will feel, what you’ll be doing and how rewarding it will be to have accomplished this goal – big or small. Some experts recommend keeping a journal or writing letters to yourself to track your progress along your journey and to maintain motivation.
Intention Meets Action
Create a couple “if, then” statements having to do with your specific goals. For instance, “If I stop smoking in the next 10 weeks, then I will get those shoes I’ve had my eye on.” Make sure your “if, then” statement is specific to you and in line with the goal you are working toward.
Creating a network of accountability can also push you toward your goals. According to a study from the Dominican University of California, when we open up about our intentions and share our goals with our peers, creating a close network of support and accountability, we are more likely to stay on track to meet our goals. This community of support not only provides us with the necessary encouragement to continue, but empowerment as well. It may also have a contagious element motivating those around us to create and strive toward their own goal.
Create the Space
Contemplate the ins and outs of your goal(s) and what barriers you may face on your journey. There are opportunities for improvement if you look within and allow there to be. For example, if changing aspects of your diet is the goal, start small and celebrate every win. Begin by trading in one beverage per day for water or adding one more vegetable as a snack, then celebrate those accomplishments. Celebrating the wins will encourage you to commit to more positive choices as opposed to decisions that will distract you from your goals. There are always alternatives to our routines, which allows us to try simple changes that will provide big results. It’s important to remember there are so many ways to accomplish small changes. Take time to try a variety of small changes and find what you like the most. After all, activities like exercise or eating well, for example, are meant to be enjoyable! Plus, studies show that when you’re having fun, it’s much more memorable and you’re more likely to continue. (It’s no surprise, then, that fun is an intrinsic motivator!)
Slow and Steady
We often underestimate how long a goal will take and find ourselves frustrated when the results are not instantaneous. It’s important to be realistic when it comes to planning the timeline of your goal. Take the path toward your goal day-by-day. We are not granting ourselves the gift of the present when we constantly think about the weeks or months ahead. Yes, it’s important to set measurable timelines, but we also need to focus on the grace of each new day and viewing it as a fresh opportunity toward meeting our goals.
Everyone begins their journey at different mile markers and for many reasons. If you’re struggling to make a change now, continue to ask yourself the questions presented at the beginning. Also, consider that in order to part with what has become habit or routine, you may simply need to take a leap of faith. The Asset Health Coaching Team wishes you the best on your journey to a better you!
Eat Move Sleep: how small choices lead to big changes, by Tom Rath