Every day I hear from people: I’m just not motivated to make any changes. I need you to keep me motivated. I really want to change, but it’s tough to stay motivated.
According to a recent article by Peter Bregman in the Harvard Business Review, motivation isn’t the problem – it’s following through on what motivates us. He goes on to explain that motivation is mental, but follow-through is taking specific, practical steps to reach our goals. We’re most likely highly motivated to eat more fruit and vegetables, exercise more often, drink less alcohol, or get more sleep on a regular basis. We know why these changes are important and we relish the results expected from making these changes. But we stink at follow-through.
Breman suggests that a first step toward following through on motivation is stop thinking so much. Stop letting your mind dictate your actions, and instead set a specific, realistic, practical goal: I’m going to add one vegetable to my lunch today. I’m going to go for a walk tomorrow at lunch.
To truly ramp up the follow-through, Breman recommends these strategies:
– Write down exactly what you’re going to do, one step at a time.
– Get support and increase accountability by letting other people know your goals. Even better, enlist their help: ask a friend to walk with you first thing in the morning or let your husband know you plan to go to sleep 15 minutes earlier.
– Keep track of your follow-through by noting on a calendar the days you meet your goal.
– Once you set a specific goal, don’t let your mind get in the way. Ignore the voice in your head that whines you’re too tired to get up 10 minutes early to go for a walk, or that pleads it wants to eat dessert, not broccoli.
Remind yourself often that you’re highly motivated to make healthy changes, and that you’re taking steps to put those goals into practice.