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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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    Published on April 7, 2021

    6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

    6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

    Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

    While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

    1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

    Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

    If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

    In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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    2. They Make Everything Transactional

    Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

    For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

    Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

    A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

    Some statements to be wary of include:

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    • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
    • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
    • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
    • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

    3. They Criticize Everything

    One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

    However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

    Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

    • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
    • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
    • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
    • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

    4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

    We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

    For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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    This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

    5. They Socially Isolate You

    Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

    Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

    This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

    In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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    6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

    It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

    Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

    Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

    • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
    • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
    • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
    • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

    Final Thoughts

    It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

    More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

    Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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