Last post we looked at why developing winning habits is so important and how they can have a dramatic impact on our lives. The million dollar question is how can we be motivated to make those habits stick, especially in the moments we really don’t feel like doing them. This can be true early on. After a habit becomes a part of our life, it is usually much easier to stick with. Some habits you will even come to find yourself looking forward to and end up feeling like something is missing when you don’t do them. We are getting ahead of ourselves. Let us back up and tackle the question as to how we can maintain our level of commitment and enthusiasm for our daily winning habits.
One of the biggest mistakes we make is right at the beginning. When we are putting a new habit in place in our lives, we need to have a strong enough ‘why’. Let us use the example of eating healthier. If we are doing it because we know we should or simply that it would be good for us, that is not a very powerful why. Will this reason hold up when you find out the local pizza place has buy one get one free and you are tired from a hard days work? I am guessing not. Before we put our new healthy habits in place and make them a part of our lives, we need to become emotionally attached to why we are doing them. It is simply not enough to know on an intellectual level why what we are doing is beneficial for us. In order to stick to our winning habits, especially in tough times, we need to become emotionally invested in the outcome. Let us take a look at a few ways in which we can do that.
One of the most powerful things we can do is to really get clear as to not only what pleasurable and positive things will happen by us sticking with our new winning habit, but also what painful and negative things will happen if we do not stick with this habit. Using both will not only double our motivation, but will help us be motivated in an entirely different light. Most of us tend to use only the former and forget the latter. Take trying to quit smoking for example. Some of the reasons you may list for you ‘why’ is as follows. I will be able to breathe better and do more things without becoming so winded. I will stink less and be more attractive to others, especially those who do not smoke. My skin will age less rapidly. My immune system will be stronger and I will be able to fight off sickness better. All very good and helpful reasons to quite smoking. Let us look at examples of what would happen if we don’t stop smoking. These can often be discovered by taking to opposite of our positive statements. I will miss out on playing with my children and grand children because I will be too winded to keep up. In several year, or less, I will have to depend on oxygen and not be able to breathe on my own. I will meet the person of my dreams but they will be sick from the smell of cigarettes on my clothes and hair. My skin will dry, have more wrinkles and I will look older than I am. My immune system will be so weak I will spend more days sick than healthy. I will not be able to taste and appreciate some of the wonderful food I enjoy.
Some people may consider looking at the negative aspect of not achieving your goal or sticking to your habit as ‘scaring yourself’. In a way that is true, but when we are looking to transform our lives in a positive way, we need to use both the carrot and the stick. Both hope and fear are great motivators and should both be employed.
Another great motivational tool is considering something that may be more important to us than ourselves. For parents, this is hopefully their children. These quotes in the pictures above paint a pretty honest picture. You can tell your children how it is important it is to eat right and not to spend all of their time in front of the television or on their phone playing video games. If, however, they watch their parents spend hours a day on Facebook, twitter and other social media platforms while having a coffee and doughnuts for breakfast. What we say goes so far. When faced with believing someone’s words or actions, especially if they contradict, people will always believe actions. This holds true not only for children, but for our friends and coworkers and other people who observe us. If you want to be known as a great spouse and you are consistently posting loving words on social media, but when people see you out together you are disrespectful to your spouse, which one are they more likely to believe? When you are busy lecturing your children on the importance of good health and finances, make sure you are showing them as well. That is even more important.
So when the temptation to stray from the path of the winning habit creeps in, remember your ‘why’. If you have had a stressful day and your are tempted to light up, picture and really think about both running around playing with your grandchildren as well as laying in a hospital bed not being able to breathe on your own. It will certainly make it easier to find an alternative to that cigarette. Free doughnuts in the breakroom? Imagine your children following in your footsteps on unhealthy dietary habits and what that will mean for their lives going forward. It is important to use every means at our disposal for changing our healthy habits. We will not only be transforming our own lives, but you never know who may be watching us as well.