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5 Ways To Think Differently About Motivation When Setting 2016 Goals

5 Ways To Think Differently About Motivation When Setting 2016 Goals

When we are hungry, cold, or feel in danger, we have no trouble finding the “motivation” to eat, stay warm, or get somewhere safe. But when we’re faced with choosing the kale salad over the cheeseburger or waking up 30 minutes earlier to hit the gym, we suddenly find ourselves searching for the “motivation” to make it happen.

According to Abraham Maslow, once basic needs such as food, water, and safety are satisfied, humans are naturally motivated to embark on an ongoing quest to reach our full potential.

So is it really the problem of lack of motivation? Or are we just having trouble following through?

Often the problem is our misguided concept of motivation itself.

Here are five ways to think about motivation differently.

You’re motivated but resources are limited

If you’re thinking seriously about making a behavioral change, lack of motivation isn’t the reason you’re stuck in “trying to get traction” mode. According to social scientist BJ Fogg, the problem is more likely related to a lack of “ability.”

No, Fogg is not suggesting you’re incapable of change. His theory is that we all experience, to varying degrees, scarcity in resources such as time, money, and skills, and that scarcity can interfere with our ability to accomplish even what we are plenty motivated to achieve.

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According to Fogg’s behavior model, you have two options: You can try to get more of the resource you’re lacking (easier said than done) or you can scale down the behavior to match the resource you do have (more practical). Want to start meditating but can’t find the 30 minutes to spare? Start with 5 minutes. Want to get fit but have no idea where to start? Hire a coach to set you up with a 10-minute workout plan.

Motivation isn’t constant

Motivation waxes and wanes. Be ready with options.

In the throes of inspiration, we often set ambitious schedules that seem entirely doable to our highly motivated selves. I’m going to take four yoga classes a week! Starting today, I’m going to take three deep breaths every time I get mad at my kids!

But the minute we fail to meet these high expectations, we throw in the towel. Eh, I don’t feel like yoga today, so forget yoga.

What we forget is that motivation isn’t constant. Sometime you’re just not feeling it, so it’s important to build in daily options to harness your “motivation wave,” the daily or even hourly fluctuations in motivation that Dr. Fogg describes.

MotivationChart

    BJ Fogg’s Motivation Wave

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    The idea is to take a more challenging path when you are feeling inspired and an easier route when motivation is waning.

    Let’s say your goal is to write a page in your journal every night before bed. You get home late from an event one night and just want to roll into bed — your motivation wave is hitting bottom. Instead of blowing off your new habit completely, make it easier for yourself and just write down one sentence or one thing you’re grateful for.

    External rewards and fear can motivate. But only temporarily

    Have you ever had a flash of motivation upon learning a sobering new fact? Maybe you read that excessive sitting can lead to diabetes, so you suddenly bolt out of your chair every hour. Or your company launches a “biggest loser” competition with cool prizes, so you start skipping meals in an attempt to drop 10 pounds fast.

    Your mission succeeds — for a few days.

    Fact is, change inspired by fear or external rewards never lasts. Of course it’s inspiring to learn new facts or be tempted with a prize. But rather than dwell on the risks of doing the wrong thing, relish the positive experience of doing something new and positive. If you don’t have an intrinsically motivating reason for taking on a new habit you won’t keep it a part of your daily routine for long.

    Identifying your “why” is motivating

    When the going gets rough — when your good intentions go up against your ingrained behavioral patterns — knowing and remembering what’s really driving you (your “why”) may be all that keeps you on course.

    The technique therapists and coaches use to to get at this is called “motivational interviewing,” and it’s something you can borrow and use on yourself. Essentially, you keep asking “why” until the answer gets real.

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    Here’s a conversation you might have with yourself:

    “Why do I want to start exercising?”

    “Because I want more energy”

    “OK, why do I want more energy?”

    “Because I feel tired all the time.”

    “Why don’t I want to feel tired?”

    “Because when my kids ask me to play tag, I want to feel like doing it.”

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    “Why does that matter to me so much?”

    “Because I don’t want to let my kids down and limit the activities we can do together. I’m want to be a good role model for them.”

    The fourth or fifth reason you articulate for wanting to change will be far less superficial than the first. Once you’ve nailed down the real reason, write it down and put it somewhere handy — you’ll need it, and it might also help you identify more ways to fulfil your deepest desire.

    A growth mindset will keep you trying when you hit obstacles.

    We’re all capable of improving, regardless of what natural abilities we were born with or without. It’s important then to acknowledge our successes or failures and remind ourselves that they are a direct result of our own effort or lack thereof, not of factors outside our control.

    It’s the difference between having a “fixed mindset” or a “growth mindset”. A “fixed mindset” assumes that our abilities can’t be changed in any meaningful way, and success or failure is the reinforcement of the traits we were “born” with. When we have a “growth mindset,” on the other hand, we see obstacles and challenges as opportunities for growth beyond our existing abilities.

    These two mindsets spur a great deal of our behavior so it’s essential to recognize if you tend toward a fixed mindset and try to shift your thinking toward a growth mindset.

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    Sharen Ross

    Marketing Strategy Consultant

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    Last Updated on October 5, 2020

    How to Quit Your Boring Life and Start Living an Interesting One

    How to Quit Your Boring Life and Start Living an Interesting One

    We are given life with many opportunities to make it everything we want it to be and more. If you find that you’ve slipped into living a boring life, it’s time to take a hard look at what you’ve been doing and what you can start doing now to make it more interesting.

    Maybe you’ve been doing the same thing and living the same life for too long, or maybe your daily routine is limiting your growth and happiness. Whatever your reason is, the following list can definitely make any day or life more interesting. Some of them are silly, while some are more meaningful, so hopefully just reading the list makes your life less boring and sparks your creativity.

    Let’s dive in the list to quit your boring life and start living an interesting (and meaningful) one!

    1. Channel Your 7-Year-Old Self

    Imagine being a young child. Life was never boring, was it? That’s because children harness every ounce of creativity they have in order to try new things.

    What would your 7-year-old self want to do in this moment? Maybe they’d pick up a paintbrush and try to paint the landscape around them. May they would go outside and build something with random materials around the yard. Maybe they would raid the fridge and put together a dish they’ve never seen before.

    Just because you’re a grown-up doesn’t mean any of this stuff will be less enjoyable than you remember it. Give yourself permission to play and use your creativity to its fullest.

    2. Go Play With Kids

    Speaking of little kids, if you have your own (or a niece or nephew), go play with them!

    Kids are absolutely hilarious, so it’s simply impossible to be bored when you’re around them. They also keep things so simple, and we can really stand to be reminded of this and stop allowing ourselves to get bogged down in boring details.

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    3. Play Cell Phone Roulette

    You’ll need at least one buddy for this, but this is a great way to avoid a boring life. Scroll through the contacts in your phone, stop on a random one, and (if it feels right) call the person.

    You could spark an incredible catch-up session or, at the very least, remind someone that you’re thinking of them. Neither are boring.

    4. Fill out a Pack of Thank-You Cards

    This is a great part of a gratitude practice. We often forget to thank the people who do things for us, especially if we have come to expect those things. For example, have you ever thought about thanking your mom for that weekly phone call? Or thanking your sister for always sending you a homemade gift on your birthday?

    Take time to think of at least 5 people you would like to say thank you to and write out a card. You could even write them out for random people in your neighborhood, like the local librarian, a teacher at your child’s school, or the accountant at your bank.

    Anyone and everyone appreciates being thanked for their efforts.

    5. Sign up for a Class

    Nowadays, there are classes for everything. To make it as interesting as possible, try finding one that you wouldn’t normally consider doing, like salsa lessons, improv, or boxing.

    Otherwise, try to find a course on something you’ve always wanted to learn, like pottery, photography, or a foreign language course.

    What’s good about joining an interest class is that you will also meet new people, which will add even more interest to your life!

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    6. Talk to Your Grandparents About Their Lives

    We often underestimate how interesting the elderly are. You can rest assured that any elderly person you talk to will not have had a boring life! Take some time to talk to them and hear their interesting stories. You may even find that this motivates you to go out and find your own interesting experiences.

    7. Get up on Stage at an Open Mic Night

    Whether you’re funny or not, get up on stage. If you’re not into comedy, find an open mic that focuses on reading poetry or short stories and bring your own. These groups tend to be incredibly supportive for anyone who is willing to be brave enough to get up and try.

    8. Do Something for Someone Else

    Showing kindness automatically makes you feel good, but doing these small acts will also help to ensure that you don’t have a boring life. Try doing one or two things each week that are outside your normal routine.

    For example, you could make a batch of cookies for the mailperson or help your elderly neighbor organize one of their rooms. There are a million ways to show kindness to those around you. Tap into your creativity and find your own or use some of the ideas from the image below[1].

    Do random acts of kindness to avoid living a boring life.

      9. Start a DIY Project in Your Home

      If you have your own place, there is always a project that needs to get done. Many people simply pay for someone else to do it in order to avoid the hassle, but taking on a DIY project can make a boring life much more interesting.

      It doesn’t have to be super complicated. Maybe you repaint an old vase or build a spice shelf out of used pallets.

      If you need ideas, you can also check out these 30 Awesome DIY Projects that You’ve Never Heard of.

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      10. Plan a Weekend Trip or an All-Out Vacation

      This will give you something to look forward to. One study actually found that most travelers are happiest before a vacation[2]. Therefore, simply planning a trip will boost your mood, even if you can’t actually take the vacation right now.

      Even if you don’t have the time or money to go on a vacation, plan for a staycation, which is also fun and relaxing!

      11. Go People Watching

      Find a bench in a crowded area (centers of transportation like airports, bus stops, and train stations are great for this!) and just observe[3].

      People are infinitely interesting. Try to imagine what their lives are like, what they’re thinking, or where they’re going. You’ll never know if you’re right, but it will give you something to focus on and also help you practice empathy.

      12. Eat Something You’ve Never Eaten Before

      You can try that new Moroccan restaurant down the street and pick the most interesting dish on the menu. Or, you can raid your own fridge and throw together a dish you’ve never made before.

      If you’re up for a trip to the grocery store, try picking up a new fruit or veggie from the produce section. You may find a new food that you love!

      13. Dance

      You can get your friends together for a night on the town or just pull up a video on YouTube and bust a move from your own living room.

      If you’re feeling extra brave, you can even dance in public or join a flash mob.

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      14. Pick up a Book and Start Reading

      Reading a good book can keep you occupied for hours. It will also transport you to a life that isn’t your own, and one that likely will be the opposite of a boring life. You’ll be amazed by what you can learn from those pages.

      Pick on of these inspirational books to start reading: 10 Best Inspirational Books That Can Change Your Life

      15. Spend Some Time With People You Care About

      Facebook stalking doesn’t count as real social interaction. Call up a friend you haven’t seen in a while, or bring a coffee over to your parent’s place and catch up. They’ll appreciate the gesture, and you’ll avoid boredom.

      16. Check out a Museum You’ve Never Been to

      Some people are bored by museums, so if that’s you, skip to the next one. However, if you love art, history, or culture, this one is for you!

      17. Write a List of Things You Desire and Truly Want

      This is a great way to help you figure out the real reason why you’re feeling bored about your life. Maybe you haven’t really done things that you truly enjoy? Maybe what you’ve wanted to do all the time has been left behind?

      Think about the list of things you really want to do, and ask yourself why you aren’t doing these things (yet). Then, start taking your first step to make it happen.

      Now, go make your life interesting and live your dream life!

      More on How to Quit a Boring Life

      Featured photo credit: Alex Alvarez via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] FECAVA: Random Acts of Kindness
      [2] Applied Research in Quality of Life: Vacationers Happier, but Most not Happier After a Holiday
      [3] Psychology Today: The Expert’s Guide to People Watching

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