Preparing for the Motivation to Succeed

December 29, 2015 in Psychology of Food, Weight Management by Joyce Bunderson

Do you feel like you’re coming close to the precipice? If the holiday season started with Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving and then the entire month of December speckled with celebrations with everyone your friends or family knows, it’s a considerable amount of celebrating. Plus, you know you can’t turn your back on the continuation of celebrating this week – certainly we’re happy about the New Year and family and friends are still in town. But are you feeling your energy building for a change? Just wondered.

Although I’m not distraught over my holiday eating/exercise, I do feel my motivation beginning to build to make this year a great one. I want to do even more toward improving my health. My thought is that you may be having some inkling of ideas sneaking in between parties and gatherings (which all seem to involve food – extra special food – extra tempting food). So I’ve decided to just share a couple of little ideas that you can allow to germinate, grow and develop in your mind until you’re ready to make your real plans and get ready to act.

Ideas to consider in preparing yourself for the motivation to succeed:

  • Good planning and goal setting Start from the very beginning with the knowledge that doing this well will significantly increase your chance of success. If you really want to beat the odds, then definitely take a few steps in getting your planning, goal setting and thinking lined up for success. (I probably don’t need to tell you the stats of New Year’s resolution failure (less than 8% succeed by year’s end); - not great.)
  • Discover your strengths. This is an important step in positioning yourself to remain motivated during the entire goal period. Begin by considering what your strengths are. If you recognize them you can maximize them. If you need help in identifying your strengths (and weaknesses) you may enjoy a website called IQ Matrix. If you decide to spend some time working on identifying strengths/weaknesses and the goal you’re working on is exercise, eating modification, or some other health related issue, remember to ask yourself questions with a health-related slant. Remember Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote; “Our strengths grow out of our weaknesses.” So weakness identification is very important too. You can be far better positioned to be successful if your goal is designed from a position of strength and protects you from your weakness. You may want to review one of my previous writings on ‘environmental control.
  • Focus on everything involved in getting to your destination. Take apart into the smallest pieces each step to getting to your goal. If, for example, you want to become better at some sport, take the time to do a little research about getting better at the sport. If you want to get better at something you already know about, take some time to study your schedule and find the places where you can increase your practice time. If you want to cook more food at home, take the time to look over your schedule and spend some time with recipes you’d like to learn to cook, integrating what you already know. If you want to cut down on simple carbs, find some recipes using complex carbs or sugar-free recipes that you want to try during the year. Then make a schedule and goal for how frequently you want to try a new recipe.

The key here is spending time on the process. Don’t choose a big goal (ie I want to run a marathon; I want to lose 80 pounds.) without thinking/planning the small steps that are involved in achieving your goal. Just thinking of small steps will help more than you can imagine. I need to make a note to myself to set the alarm to get up at a certain time, so I can exercise before work. Or I need to put my walking shoes in the car, so I can walk at lunchtime or after work. The end is the result, but the goals should be broken down into specific, realistic steps.

  • The issue of time, this idea is related to the one above. Your focus now is on time. So when you’re breaking down goals, also think about the time involved for longer-term goals. Making a goal to achieve something during the next year is not nearly as effective as making a goal of what to do this week, or this month. They all supposedly lead to the desired goal for a year, but the motivation to keep focused remains higher with short-term goals.
  • A study by Webber et al, and published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, found that motivation at the critical four-week point is a better predictor of long-term success than motivation at the beginning of a goal. You’re more likely to keep your motivation for the entire time (year for example) by making shorter times, more manageable and enjoyable goals and experiencing success along the way.
  • As Zig Ziglar was quoted in Inc.: “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” If reading or hearing motivational words helps you the way it helps elite athletes, then try this list of 101motivational quotes posted by Inc.

If you’re beginning to have inklings of goals in your future, nurture the thoughts; let them germinate; straiten out and grow increasingly toward the goal, like a flower facing the sun. Then be ready to do some research, some learning and some thoughtful planning for the small, manageable goals and successes along the way.

Sending my best wishes for a blessed and wonderful New Year.