Why do you want to change? Really?
Before you begin to introduce a change you actually need to ask yourself why you are bothered in the first place. In reality, only 20% of making any change is knowing how; 80% is actually knowing why.
Think about that for a moment. Why do you think some of your friends almost always seem to effortlessly succeed in their goals and ambitions whereas you struggle every single time and eventually have to give up? How’s that? Are you simply lacking in willpower?
No, my dear. I’m afraid that’s absolute nonsense. One of the reasons you probably lost your motivation halfway is that you didn’t light a big enough fire under your backside. Your motivation was fleeting because you didn’t have a big enough reason to stick to your guns so you simply lost interest along the way. You stopped giving a s***.
That’s why a powerful enough reason why you actually want to change is absolute key as it provides you with a more sustainable and lasting source of energy that you can rely on in the long run and tap into when facing difficult times. Those reasons why have to come from within you. As each of us has a different background, hold different values and beliefs, where we get our true drive and inspiration from is different for you and me if that makes sense. Why comes in many different shapes and sizes.
"No one can persuade another to change. Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or by emotional appeal." - Marilyn Furguson
For example, adventure and playfulness are very important values to me. That’s why I derive so much pleasure in coasteering personally. That’s where I can get my energy from. That doesn’t mean you should be excited about that too. Not in the slightest. Someone else might be very creative, social and caring towards others, which could be a good reason to start to crochet. Absolutely fine by me if that works out for you. Go for it. However, whereas the underlying motivation to care about something is different from person to person, what is the same is that motivation is always highly personal and emotional to that individual.
One way to figure out where you can get your drive and passion from for doing a new activity or starting a habit (there are many more ways if you’re interested) is to look at your so-called core drives. Yu-kai Chou is an expert in something they call behavioural design. Yu-Kai believes most of your motivation comes from 8 different segments. Here are examples for 5 of them.
1. Epic meaning, calling
The drive where you are motivated because you believe in something bigger than yourself.
- Example: Hannah wants to be a mom and look after her children so they have the world at their feet.
- How can it make you feel? Meaningful, fulfilled
2. Development and accomplishment
The drive where you are driven by a sense of growth and need to accomplish a targeted goal.
- Example: Harry wants to compete in an Ironman and is up for a tough challenge. He subscribed to the Ironman in Pembrokeshire.
- How can it make you feel? Proud, smart, accomplished
3. Empowerment of creativity and feedback
What most people refer to as "Play". People are by nature creative beings, and we yearn to learn, imagine, invent, and partake in creative processes where the journey in of itself brings happiness.
- Example: Most afternoons when Matt comes back from school he runs upstairs, opens his cupboard and takes all his Lego out. He creates his only little world where time flies by when he´s in his own little bubble.
- How can it make you feel? Sense of freedom, autonomy, feel creative, you imagine and invent and feel empowered
4. Social influence and relatedness
Fuelled by our desire to connect and compare to one another. Driven by what other people think, do, or say.
- Dan also is going to participate in an Ironman. He was persuaded to join by his friend, Jake. He can’t go back anymore. Damn. Nevertheless, he’s determined to beat him on the day.
- How can it make you feel? Connected, committed, envy relatedness.
5. Loss and avoidance
Motivates through the fear of losing something or having undesirable events transpire.
- Example: Rhi has recently been told by her GP she might lose one of her organs if she continues to drink as she’s doing now. Rhi is wise and cuts back on her booze.
- How can it make you feel? Feeling of urgency, fear of losing or failure, fear of regret
A strong enough why is usually a powerful cocktail of these ingredients. One of those that go down your throat and think wow. Yeah buddy, I’m fully awake now. I’m buzzing! Ha.
Here is one final example to get you into gear. You have a choice. You can either watch a 5-minute video of Wubbo Ockels, a Dutch astronaut and professor. He sadly died the day after this video due to incurable kidney cancer. The second option you have is a short story of Steve Jobs. He gave this talk during a Stanford Commencement speech in 2005. You decide.
See if you can filter out his ulterior motives or drives (or both if you’re really keen!)
- Short story of Wubbo Ockels: https://youtu.be/6rDG6pE-GGY
- Short story of Steve Jobs: https://youtu.be/WLHuW_ncExc
Did you pick out his reasons why? Why did Steve or Wubbo care?
While the story of Wubbo and Steve might inspire you, in the end it’s all about formulating your own inspirational reasons to make a change. So, what is your story? What’s on your mind at this very moment? What would you like to change, if you could, right now? Why do you care? Why do you want to make that change now and not somewhere in the future? What could it bring you? Think about it and write it down.
If your underlying set of reasons is strong and urgent enough you’ll find the leverage you need and can change in a minute what you’ve failed to change for years. By strong enough I mean that your reasons need to mean something to you. Each of those reasons you’ve put down should resonate deeply within you. It needs to be emotional and ideally linked to your core values. The stronger the reason resonates within you, the better they can work for you, especially when life gets difficult. By urgent, I mean you need to find reasons that make it imminent you need to change now. Not someday, not tomorrow. Now. It needs a certain sense of urgency to make you feel you need to act immediately.
So make your why as strong and urgent as you possibly can. You need all the firepower you can get to create enough leverage and break through your gates of inertia. Once you reach that leverage point – you’ll feel it once you get there trust me – you’ll be surprised how ready you feel to start and persist. You are strong. All the reasons are within you. Go find them and do the exercise now and reach to a life coach if you need a hand.
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About Nick Rothengatter
Nick is a Qualified Life Coach and certified NLP Practitioner. Nick also holds an BSc in Economics and MSc in Consumer Studies. His specialty lies in creating lasting change. Nick actually applies behavioural change in the field on a daily basis as an applied behaviour therapist and outdoor pursuit instructor.