How Motivation Influences Lifestyle Changes
I’m going to go out on a limb and share a mindset shift related to motivation. This has been a complete game changer for me and I want to share it with you, because I wish I knew about this twenty years ago.
Motivation isn’t the key to long-term health.
What? I know. News to me too
Motivation and willpower are cyclical. They are like waves pulsing in and out, up and down. They have highs and lows. There is the saying that you can set your watch by the Swiss train system. You can’t set our watch to motivation. According to the latest research out of Stanford on human behavior, you don’t really ever know when it’s going to show up.
So, why would we bank our health on something so unreliable? The crazy thing is our healthy lifestyle patterns need only these little spikes of motivation for longevity, depth, growth and success.
What we need is appropriate action. Where does action come from? Action is sparked by our deeper intentions around WHY we want to feel a certain way. Whether that’s clearer in our minds, well rested after a night of sleep or lighter in our physical experience. We need to tap into WHY we desire the change at the root.
When we have a strong connection to WHY we desire any kind of physical, mental or emotional change and are honest about WHAT we are willing to do to get there and HOW we are going to do it, we are more likely to succeed.
Our lifestyle is determined by our actions and our daily behavior, not by what we know. Our daily healthy habits are essentially made prior to any kind of action. When our desire to change is strong enough and there is interest in making small changes towards our desired feelings and overall experience, motivation can be high or low. Our actions aren’t dependent on whether we are motivated or not.
The Motivation Wave
BJ Fogg, a Behavior Scientist and Professor at Stanford University studies motivation and it’s changes in behavior. His research shows we can’t rely on motivation to get things done. He says we can’t rely on motivation or willpower for long-term change. Motivation is like a wave. It has highs and lows. So what?
If you’ve ever spent much time at the ocean you know the pulsation of the waves. There are crests and troughs or highs and lows. See the image above. The high points or crest of the wave are simply the temporary moments when it is easier to do hard things. Alternately, there are natural periods where our motivation is low, in the trough of the wave when we are less capable of doing hard things.
By putting habits in place when motivation is high, we can create a kind of automation when motivation feels low. Download your Motivation Worksheet and start to observe and reflect with 6 different activities around how to navigate your own motivation ups and downs. Start to tune in to the ups and put new habits in place and ride the troughs with automated, pre-determined habits when motivation is low. And remember, it’s a cycle.
Begin to reset your mindset and your behavior with your own personal cycles of motivation and watch your healthy habits get a little more traction. And as a sweet reminder, do yourself a favor to be kind to yourself as you attune to the dynamic movement of your own motivation.
Rachel Peters is a wife, mother, yoga health coach, graceful aging advocate, and lover of wild places. She leads women towards Embodying Ease through a yearlong wellness & lifestyle journey to dissolve perfectionism, embody daily habits that promote mental clarity, overall ease, and deeper connection to life on this wild ride of modern living. Follow her on Facebook or Instagram or join her Private Facebook Group Easeful Living Community for more tips and strategies.