‘It’s a new week which means a fresh start and a brand new me!’
On Sunday you found yourself sitting on the sofa unhappy with the way an area of your life is going and decided something different has to happen.
‘Enough is enough, tomorrow is when I make the change and become the me I want to be. I’m going to make this happen’
You wake up on Monday morning feeling motivated with a new sense of energy, and set about your day putting in place new habits that you know are important to do for you to reach your goals. However, within a few days or weeks (sometimes even hours) all of those ‘new habits’ have gone out the window and you find yourself back at what feels like square one.
You wait for the next Sunday to come around again.
‘It’s a new week, which means a fresh start and a brand new me!’
This sentence sounds familiar….
Haven’t we been here before…?
Motivation appears to underpin why we do what we do, but to rely on it alone to propel us forward to where we want to be in the future is a sure fire way to find yourself sat on a big carousel – you feel like you’re moving forward but in fact you’re just going around and around in a big circle.
Motivation is defined as ‘a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way’.
Yet these reasons can be subject to different influences, and if you aren’t paying attention and understanding what these are specifically for yourself then suddenly motivation appears to be working against you.
An example of this could be you want to change your job and have an idea to start a business on the side. You know what you want to accomplish in the evenings and at the weekends and plan out all the things you need to do to stick to it.
But then you get a few impromptu invites in the week to go out with friends for some drinks and on Friday, have a few too many and end up writing off most of the weekend with a huge hangover. You decide to spend most of your day in bed.
It’s easier that way.
Another example might be deciding to get fit and go to the gym and eat more healthily – your motivation is that you want to be in shape.
A few days into your new regime someone brings a few cakes and treats into the office. It’s at a time in the day when your blood sugar levels are quite low and you’re feeling hungry, so you give in and start digging into the cake like there’s no tomorrow.
You were also suppose to go to the gym that night but were feeling tired so decided to not push yourself.
It’s easier that way.
The first point to notice in both of these examples is that the external and additional influences to the situation overpowered the original main motivation that was making you want to create change in the first place. Your long-term motivation seemed to quite easily step aside to let the short term choices take precedence – you like the taste of cake, you want to be seen as sociable on a night out, you want to be in bed.
The second point is that these side-track choices were the easier option.
In the video below Mel Robbins explains briliantly the wider issue with motivation and the fact our brains are not wired for being put into uncomfortable, scary or uncertain situations. Take a few minutes to watch it:
As a stand alone, motivation won’t get you very far. As a stand-alone ‘motivation is garbage’, as Mel puts it.
However, just because our brains are designed for the easier and more comfortable option for survival reasons, that doesn’t mean we don’t have the capacity to put ourselves into situations that challenge us or that are difficult. Quite the contrary, the human race has achieved masses because we are always striving for more – to do more, to learn more, to create more, to be more.
Therefore, motivation has to be combined with a plan for it to be effective.
Why Am I Sharing This With You?
It’s always important to reflect on why we do what we do, and how we can do things differently if we aren’t achieving the change we want.
So how do we make sure we aren’t riding the ‘Carousel of Motivation’ for years on end?
1.Well the very first step is to be aware of all of the above. How our brains work and identifying where the challenges might lie ahead for you personally as you embark on a change you want to make in life is vitally important.
2. Work out what will be the best strategies to put in place before starting, of how to continue and keep pushing on when you don’t feel like it/can’t be bothered/don’t want to/would prefer to do something else.
- What could you say to yourself/put in place/do instead of having those extra drinks?
- What could you say to yourself/put in place/do instead of going out in the evening?
- What could you say to yourself/put in place/do instead of eating that piece of cake?
- What could you say to yourself/put in place/do to make sure you go to the gym instead of heading home?
3. Remember this is a long-term change with long-term motivation which will require you to make many changes to many life-long habits, so pace yourself. Don’t try and change it all at once, be patient and look to making a couple of habit changes first and getting these practised and under your belt, and then introducing two more and so on and so on..
You may want to completely revamp the way you do everything to kick-start yourself off on the right track, which can be very effective as this can work wonders in the short term as you will see results quicker, but be aware that this approach is mostly unsustainable in the long run, and could lead to burn-out or fatigue. Don’t forget, the brain is not wired for the uncomfortable and difficult, so the more layers of difficulty you suddenly lay on yourself at once under the guise of ‘a new you’ the more you may find you kick back against it all, and in the process most, or all, of the hard work you have done up to that point unravels.
So instead of saying; ‘It’s a new week, which means a fresh start and a brand new me!’ why not instead try; ‘It’s a new week, let me learn from what went well last week and what didn’t go so well and decide on one or two things I can do differently over the next few weeks and have my plans in place so that I stick to them.’
4. Stick to them.
Have a great Monday,