Over the past few weeks I've addressed a number of aspects of behavior change that people tend to skip over on their way to attempting to change something in their life. Here are the previous posts in this series:
- Track Your Behavior Before You Change It
- A Few Considerations Before Changing Behavior
- Establishing Mini-Steps to Attain Your Dreams
Before you start to change behavior, it's good to know why you'd like to change your behavior. The fact of the matter is that behavior change can be a difficult, long, hard, tedious process. There needs to be something we hold on to that will continue to motivate us forward when we want to give up (and for most of us, that time will come at some point). As you think about your dreams and what you'd like to achieve through behavior change, I'm wondering if you know what is motivating yourself forward. This "what" and "why" will help keep you going when the voice inside tells you to give up, that it isn't worth the time, energy, or work involved.
Once you figure out what that motivation will be, write it down somewhere and read it regularly. A bathroom mirror or refrigerator are both good places to put motivations, as we tend to look at those places many times a day. The more we repeat something, the more it becomes an automatic thought. Because thoughts lead to our feelings and our behaviors, we need to get our thoughts right before we move forward.
Let's look at a few examples:
Goal: Get healthy by working out 3 days a week (2 days running, 1 day biking)
Motivation: I'm choosing to exercise and get healthy because I desire to __________. (fill in the blank could be anything like the following: be an active grandparent one day, live a long, healthy life, feel better and stronger about myself).
Goal: Correct my distorted thoughts and change these to rational thinking patterns
Motivation: I'm choosing to do the hard work of learning to challenge and change my distorted thinking patters because I want to ______. (fill in the blank. i.e. decrease the depressed or anxious feelings I experience, be a good role model to my children, be happier each day).
See what I mean? This step, combined with the steps listed above, will start to set you up in the best way possible for being successful at your behavior change.
We each do what we do for a specific reason. It's helpful to find out what the reason is that we engage in our current behavior, and create a new motivation for our new behavior.
Now it's your turn:
What are some of your "motivations" for the year?