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Published on May 18, 2020

How to Change Yourself and Live the Life You Deserve

How to Change Yourself and Live the Life You Deserve

“Am I where I want to be? Am I living the life I deserve?” These are all questions we have asked ourselves over the last several weeks as the world has been upended. These are tough questions that each of us has likely had to answer at some point. Did you like your answers? Or did they force to you face a truth you had known all along?

What needs to change is: You.

I’ve been there. Thankfully, once you are aware of what needs to change, you can begin to do what is necessary to change it. Changing “you” may be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but it’s 100% worth it if when your done, you get to live the life you know you deserve.

Taking personal inventory in this way isn’t easy. You’re brave for being honest enough with yourself to admit that you need to change. In this moment, there is a disconnect between who you are and who you know yourself to be.

When those two things are out of alignment, it can feel impossible to live the life you deserve because there is no clarity of vision or purpose. When this disconnect is present, the best way to create positive, sustainable personal change is to cultivate self-love, bolster your self-esteem, and reconnect with your true self.

1. Cultivate Self-Love

When self-love is cultivated, the challenging work of changing yourself is softened by the balms of patience and self-compassion.

Change is hard enough on its own, especially when you know that you’ll inevitably face obstacles along the way. Cultivating a healthy sense of self-love will allow you to be gentle with yourself as you navigate any unavoidable challenges. Knowing you love yourself unconditionally will anchor you when your journey gets tough.

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Getting unstuck can be uncomfortable. You might feel vulnerable as you confront the things about yourself that are contributing to the status quo. Change is a process, one that requires you to exercise patience and compassion with yourself. It’s okay to be vulnerable with yourself; it means you’re being honest.

Each change you make moves through a cycle – pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.

Pre-Contemplation

During the pre-contemplation stage, you are not actively seeking to change your behavior, and in some cases you may not be aware that a change is necessary. Yet, external influences may resonate with you on a deeper level, beginning to peak your curiosity or interest in potential change.

Contemplation

Once you move into the contemplation stage, change is on your radar. You have realized that there is change that needs to be made, and you are considering making it.

Preparation

The preparation stage is all about getting ready for the change. You are actively doing the mindset work and strategic planning so that you can do what is necessary to make the change you desire. At the conclusion of this phase, you truly believe that you can and will change.

Action

Action is the next logical stage of the change cycle. You have done all the preparation, and now it’s time for you to make your move. It’s time for you to take that initial action that will catalyze the change.

Maintenance

The maintenance stage begins once the initial action has been taken and new behaviors have been established for a period of time. This final stage is all about adjusting to your new normal. It will be important for you to continue to engage in the practices that will help you ensure that this change is sustained in the long-term.

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Its important to remember that these cycles are not linear, and it can take a few rounds for the change to stick. As a result, self-love is essential to successfully changing yourself. Without it, surviving the change cycle and all the resistance that comes with it is almost impossible.

Self-love “acknowledges your basic worth but also requires that you take care of that worth by actively nurturing yourself … through loving behavior.”[1] Being loving towards yourself can take many forms, from writing yourself a kind letter to taking a moment to reconnect with your breath. Yet, the most important are self-compassion, non-judgment, and patience.

Like flowers in a garden, these concepts need to be cultivated. The practice of mindfulness can help to cultivate self-love. Mindfulness teaches you to bring your mind to a place of gratitude for the now. Intentionally taking the time to slow down, acknowledge the truth of now, and embrace the positive about that reality while still noticing the negatives is an act of radical self-love.

2. Bolster Your Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is fundamental to not only believing that you’re capable of change but also that you are worthy of the effort required to achieve what you truly desire.

To change yourself for the better, you have to not only believe that you can change, but you must also believe that you are worthy of the life that positive change will bring. At the core of that belief is your self-esteem.

Put plainly, self-esteem is a reflection of how you feel about yourself. Trying to change yourself could cause you to have some negative feelings about yourself, which is why it’s important that we do the work of cultivating self-love first. It is advantageous to be anchored in a knowing that you will patiently, compassionately, and unconditionally nurture yourself through the tough spots as you are in the process of starting to implement change and holding yourself accountable.

A strong sense of positive self-esteem is critical. Your sense of self-esteem is based on the evidence you’ve gathered from your experiences and connections. You did a good job at work, thus you feel good and you believe you can do it again. The positive experience provides you with evidence that naturally bolsters your self-esteem.

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Your relationships are another well spring for positive self-esteem when you maintain healthy relationships with people who you believe in and admire. When those people then believe in you, their belief makes you believe in yourself a little more.

It takes a lot of courage to follow through with and maintain new behaviors that will sustain a long-term change. If you don’t believe that you can or that you’re worth it, then you’re fighting a losing battle.

3. Reconnect With Your True Self

The final member of this conceptual trinity is the true self. Reconnecting with your true self is imperative to successfully creating sustainable change for yourself. At the moment, you are out of alignment; there is a lack of consistent authenticity, and you’re over it.

It’s not that you are by nature inauthentic, but rather that you’re behaving in a way that does not align with your core of who you know yourself to be. You may even feel as though you are putting forth a façade. Therefore, it would be almost impossible to feel as though are you connected and in alignment with your true self.

Deepak Chopra describes the true self as the purest part of yourself[2]. He eloquently summarized the five key characteristics of the true self as: Love, Peace, Stability, Clarity, and Certainty, all driven by a deep sense of Truth.

Love

Love from the true self comes from within. There is no need to seek it from external sources. It simply exists without condition or expiration, in perpetuity without end. It is an internal spring that never goes dry.

Peace

Peace is the nature of the true self, its anchor. It does get rattled by the everyday foolishness of life. The true self is grounded and does not desire to alter its experience constantly.

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Stability

When the true self is in its natural state of peace, grounding takes place that produces stability. There is a sense of calm, that everything is as it should be in this moment.

Clarity and Certainty

The true self eliminates the potential for confusion because it’s not influenced by external forces. As a result, it is clear and certain. It knows its direction and sticks to it without hesitation.

Truth

Lastly, the true self is categorized by an understanding of our collective oneness, as well as balanced objectivity in which it bases all of its actions. Those two factors summarize what drives the true self – a deep sense of truth.

One way you can minimize resistance you may experience when working to reconnect with your true self is by gently reminding yourself of a truth you already know intuitively: Your true self is good.

Embracing the actuality of your true self is freeing and challenging. It will allow you to begin to distinguish the authentic behaviors, beliefs, thought patterns, and feelings from the inauthentic ones. Once you possess the ability to do that effectively, you’ve successfully set yourself up to not only change yourself for the better but to undoubtedly set out to live the life you deserve.

Final Thoughts

You are capable of change. You are worthy of the life you deserve. Life can be hard, and as a result anyone could lose their way. Unexpected circumstances can cause your self-esteem to take a hit. Along the way you forget to love yourself unconditionally, and you accidentally disconnect from your true self.

When you get ready to commit to change remember to trust your tribe – explore what evidence they can provide that naturally bolster self-esteem. Furthermore, patience and compassion are the keys to self-love, and always stay connected with your true self – it is the purest part of yourself, and it will never lead you astray.

More Tips on How to Change Yourself

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Awilda Rivera

Success Coach - Author - Speaker - Yogi - Advisor

How to Stop Comparing Your Life to Others (Step-by-Step Guide) How To Take Action Towards Your Goals Right Now Feeling Out of Place in Life? 5 Ways to Get Back on Track How to Change Yourself and Live the Life You Deserve How to Get Your Life Together When You Feel Overwhelmed

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Last Updated on September 30, 2020

Why Intrinsic Motivation Is So Powerful (And How to Find It)

Why Intrinsic Motivation Is So Powerful (And How to Find It)

Motivation is one of the main reasons we do things — take an action, go to work (and sometimes overwork ourselves), create goals, exercise our willpower. There are two main, universally agreed upon types of motivation — intrinsic motivation (also known as internal motivation) and extrinsic motivation (external motivation).

The intrinsic kind is, by inference, when you do something because it’s internally fulfilling, interesting or enjoyable — without an expectation of a reward or recognition from others. Extrinsic motivation is driven by exactly the opposite — externalities, such as the promise of more money, a good grade, positive feedback, or a promotion.

And of course, we all know about the big debate about money. It’s surely an external driver, but is it possible that it can sometimes make us enjoy what we do more? A meta-analysis that reviewed 120 years of research found a weak link between job satisfaction and money[1].

And what’s more — there is some evidence to suggest that more money can actually have an adverse effect on your intrinsic motivation.

Regardless of its type, motivation is still important to get you moving, to improve, excel, and put that extra effort when you feel like you don’t have a single drop of energy left to keep going.

So, let’s see some of the best things you can do to keep the fire going, even when you’d rather just indulge in pleasant idleness.

Why Intrinsic Motivation Tops Extrinsic Motivation

“To be motivated means to be moved to do something.”[2]

Generally speaking, we all need motivation.

An avalanche of research, though, shows that when it comes to finding the lasting drive to “do something,” internal incentives are much more powerful than extrinsic rewards.

Why? It’s simple.

There is a great difference when you engage in something because “I want to,” as opposed to “I must.” Just think about the most obvious example there is: work.

If you go to work every day, dragging your feet and dreading the day ahead of you, how much enjoyment will you get from your job? What about productivity and results? Quality of work?

Yep, that’s right, you definitely won’t be topping the Employee of the Month list anytime soon.

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The thing with external motivation is that it doesn’t last. It’s susceptible to something psychologists call Hedonic Adaptation[3]. It’s a fancy way of saying that external rewards are not a sustainable source of happiness and satisfaction.

When you put in 100-hour weeks in order to get promoted, and you finally are, how long does your “high” last? The walking-on-a-cloud feelings wear off quickly, research tells us, making you want more. Therefore, you are stuck on a never-ending “hedonic treadmill,” i.e. you can progressively only become motivated by bigger and shinier things, just to find out that they don’t bring you the satisfaction you hoped for, when you finally get them.

Or, as the journalist and author Oliver Burkeman wonderfully puts it[4]:

“Write every day” won’t work unless you want to write. And no exercise regime will last long if you don’t at least slightly enjoy what you’re doing.

If you want to find out more about the different types of motivation, take a look at this article: 9 Types of Motivation That Make It Possible to Reach Your Dreams

Benefits of Intrinsic Motivation

If you are still unconvinced that doing things solely for kudos and brownie points is not going to keep you going forever, nor make you like what you do, here is some additional proof:

Studies tell us that intrinsic motivation is a generally stronger predictor of job performance over the long run than extrinsic motivation[5].

One reason is that when we are internally driven to do something, we do it simply for the enjoyment of the activity. So, we keep going, day in and out, because we feel inspired, driven, happy, and satisfied with ourselves.

Another reason has to do with the fact that increasing intrinsic motivation is intertwined with things such as higher purpose, contributing to a cause, or doing things for the sake of something bigger than ourselves or our own benefit. A famous study done by the organizational psychologist Adam Grant is case in point[6].

By showing university fundraisers how the money donated by alumni can help financially struggling students to graduate from college, their productivity increased by 400% a week! The callers also showed an average increase of 142% in time spent on the phone and 171% increase in money raised.

Internal motivation has been found to be very helpful when it comes to academia, too. Research confirms that the use of external motivators, such as praise, undermine students’ internal motivation, and, in the long-run, it results in “slower acquisition of skills and more errors in the learning process.”[7]

In contrast, when children are internally driven, they are more involved in the task at hand, enjoy it more, and intentionally seek out challenges.

Therefore, all the research seems to allude to one major revelation: intrinsic motivation is a must-have if you want to save yourself the drudgery we all sometimes feel when contemplating the things we should do or must do.

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6 Ways to Enhance Your Intrinsic Motivation

So, how does one get more of the good stuff — that is, how do you become internally motivated?

There are many things you can do to become more driven. Here are the ones that top the list.

1. Self-Efficacy

The theory of self-efficacy was developed by the American-Canadian psychologist Albert Bandura in 1982[8]. Efficacy is our own belief in whether we can achieve the goals we set for ourselves. In other words, it’s whether we think we “got what it takes” to be successful at what we do[9].

Find intrinsic motivation with self-efficacy.

    It’s not hard to see the link of self-efficacy to higher self-esteem, better performance, and, of course, enhanced motivation. People with high self-efficacy are more likely to put extra effort in what they do, to self-set more challenging goals, and be more driven to improve their skills[10].

    Therefore, the belief that we can accomplish something serves as a self-fulfilling prophecy — it motivates us to try harder to prove to ourselves that we can do it.

    You can learn more about self-efficacy in this article: What Is Self Efficacy and How to Improve Yours

    2. Link Your Actions to a Greater Purpose

    Finding your “why” in life is incredibly important. This means that you need to be clear with yourself on why you do what you do and what drives you. What is intrinsically rewarding for you? 

    And no matter how mundane a task may be, it can always be linked to something bigger and better. Psychologists call this “reframing your narrative.”

    Remember the famous story of John F. Kennedy visiting NASA in 1961? As it goes, he met a janitor there and asked him what he did at NASA. The answer was:

    “I’m helping to put a man on the Moon.”

    Inspirational, isn’t it?

    Re-phrasing how your actions can help others and leave a mark in the universe can be a powerful driver and a meaning-creator.

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    3. Volunteer

    Volunteering is a great way to give back to the world. It can also help boost your internal motivation by making you feel important in supporting the less fortunate, learning new skills, feeling good about yourself, or linking to some of your inner values, such as kindness and humanitarianism[11].

    When you remove any external reward expectations and do something for the pure joy and fulfilment of improving others’ lives, then you are truly intrinsically motivated.

    4. Don’t Wait Until You “Feel Like It” to Do Something

    A great piece in the Harvard Business Review points out that when we say things as “I can’t make myself go to the gym” or “I can’t get up early,” what we actually mean is that we don’t feel like it[12]. There is nothing that psychically prevents us from doing those things, apart from our laziness.

    But here’s the thing: You don’t have to “feel like it” in order to take action.

    Sometimes, it so happens that you may not want to do something in the beginning, but once you start, you get into the flow and find your intrinsic motivation.

    For instance, you don’t feel like going to the gym after a long day at work. Rather than debating in your head for hours “for and against” it, just go. Tell yourself that you will think about it later. Once in the gym, surrounded by similar souls, you suddenly won’t fee that tired or uninspired.

    Another way to overcome procrastination is to create routines and follow them. Once the habit sets in, suddenly getting up at 6 am for work or writing for an hour every day won’t be so dreadful.

    5. Self-Determination, or the CAR Model (As I Call It)

    The Self-Determination theory was created by two professors of psychology from the University of Rochester in the mid-80s—Richard Ryan and Edward Deci[13]. The theory is one of the most popular ones in the field of motivation[14]. It focuses on the different drivers behind our behavior—i.e. the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.

    There are three main needs, the theory further states, that can help us meet our need for growth. These are also the things which Profs. Deci and Ryan believed to be the main ways to enhance our intrinsic motivation—Competence, Autonomy, and Relatedness (CAR).

    If our jobs allow us to learn and grow, and if we have enough autonomy to do things our way and be creative, then we will be more driven to give our best, and our performance will soar. In addition, as humans are social beings, we also need to feel connected to others and respected.

    All of these sources of intrinsic motivation, separately and in combination, can become powerful instigators to keep us thriving, even when we feel uninspired and unmotivated .

    6. Tap Into a Deeper Reason

    Some interesting research done in 2016 sought answers to how high-performing employees remain driven when their company can’t or won’t engage in ways to motivate them—intrinsically or extrinsically[15].

    The study tracked workers in a Mexican factory, where they did exactly the same tasks every day, with virtually zero chances for learning new skills, developing professionally, or being promoted. Everyone was paid the same, regardless of performance. So there was no extrinsic motivation at all, other than keeping one’s job.

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    A third kind of motivation was then discovered, which scientists called “family motivation.” Workers who agreed more with statements such as “I care about supporting my family” or “It is important for me to do good for my family” were more energized and performed better, although they didn’t have any additional external or internal incentive to do so.

    The great thing about this kind of driver is that it’s independent of the company one works for or the situation. It taps into something even deeper—if you don’t want to do something for your own sake, then do it for the people you care for.

    And this is a powerful motive, as many can probably attest to this.

    Final Thoughts

    Frederick Herzberg, the American psychologist who developed what’s perhaps still today the most famous theory of motivation, in his renowned article from 1968 (which sold a modest 1.2 million reprints and it the most requested article from Harvard Business Review One More Time, How Do You Motivate Employees? wrote:[16]

    “If I kick my dog, he will move. And when I want him to move again, what must I do? I must kick him again. Similarly, I can charge a person’s battery, and then recharge it, and recharge it again. But it is only when one has a generator of one’s own that we can talk about motivation. One then needs no outside stimulation. One wants to do it.”

    Herzberg further explains that the so-called “hygiene factors” (salary, job security, benefits, vacation time, work conditions) don’t lead to fulfillment, nor motivation. What does, though, are the “motivators”—challenging work, opportunities for growth, achievement, greater responsibility, recognition, the work itself.

    Herzberg realized it long ago…intrinsic motivation tips the scales when it comes to finding long-term happiness and satisfaction in everything we do, and to improving our overall well-being.

    In the end, the next time when you need to give yourself a bit of a kick to get something done, remember to link it to a goal bigger than yourself, and preferably one that has non-material benefit.

    And no, don’t say that you tried but it’s just impossible to find internal motivation. Remember the janitor at NASA?

    Because once you find your internal generator, you will be truly unstoppable.

    More Tips to Boost Motivation

    Featured photo credit: Juan Ramos via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Harvard Business Review: Does Money Really Affect Motivation? A Review of the Research
    [2] Contemporary Educational Psychology: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions
    [3] Scientific American: The Science of Lasting Happiness
    [4] The Guardian: Is the secret of productivity really just doing what you enjoy?
    [5] European Journal of Business and Management: Impact of Employee Motivation on Employee Performance
    [6] Adam Grant : Impact and the Art of Motivation Maintenance: The Effects of Contact With Beneficiaries on Persistence Behavior
    [7] Grand Valley State University: The Effect of Rewards and Motivation on Student Achievement
    [8] Encyclopedia Britannica: Albert Bandura
    [9] Pinterest: Self-Efficacy Theory
    [10] Educational Psychologist: Goal Setting and Self-Efficacy During Self-Regulated Learning
    [11] University of Minnesota: The Motivations to Volunteer: Theoretical and Practical Considerations
    [12] Harvard Business Review: How to Make Yourself Work When You Just Don’t Want To
    [13] Richard Ryan and Edward Deci: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions
    [14] Richard Ryan and Edward Deci: Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being
    [15] Nick Tasler: How some people stay motivated and energized at work—even when they don’t love their jobs
    [16] Harvard Business Review: One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?

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