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How to get motivated

In the world of behaviour change, experts have identified two types of motivation; away from motivation and towards motivation. AWAY FROM MOTIVATION: Escaping what you don’t like Healthy living is a good example of an area of life where change is often prompted by away from motivation. Generally, we move through life shifting between being reasonably OK with everything – maybe not super happy all the time with how we look and feel, but on the whole not hugely unhappy. The tipping point One day, things feel different. Either we drift to a situation where we feel dramatically unhappy with our health or appearance, or we feel that being even just a little out of step with our goals for our wellbeing has gone on for too long. Either way, it’s time to make some changes. Developing motivation to move yourself away from any given situation can be very successful in changing the way people behave, but is also has limitations. A temporary solution? Being motivated to move away from a situation you are unhappy with may limit the potential for success because, once you’ve made any type of change that moves you from this unacceptable situation, the motivation for further progress can wane and results will stall. Away from motivation can be short lived in that, as soon as you achieve a degree of progress you feel relieved, lose your sense of urgency, and return to the behaviours that led you to the unacceptable situation in the first place. Appropriate action? Away from motivation can also be limited if it merely reinforces your resolve temporarily but doesn’t actually lead to any behaviour change at all. Feeling dissatisfied when you wake up might lead you to resolve to avoid sugary snacks that day, get out and run later and get to bed earlier tonight but by the time you’ve got through a busy day it might be that you can justify skipping the activity and flopping on the sofa with a glass of wine and a take out before staying up late watching Netflix as a consolation for a tough day.

After all, one evening of indulgence won’t make things that much worse will it? Besides, you just want to move away from feeling fed up and a quick fix of comfort food and TV will enable you to do just that. So away from motivation may lead to action, but not always the most appropriate action. TOWARDS MOTIVATION: Advancing towards your best ever results Far more powerful than away from motivation is the idea of motivating yourself towards something desirable. You’ll have experienced examples of towards motivation many times in life whether you were suddenly motivated towards a person, house, job, possession or particular element of lifestyle. Dream big Towards motivation has the advantage over away from motivation in that it creates a situation where there are no limits to your success. As long as you keep fuelling the fire of motivation with positive reinforcement of what you’re aiming for, your results will keep coming, long after you’ve moved away from any initially undesirable situation.

Towards motivation is much more sustainable on a day to day basis. Rather than being linked to any negative mood of the moment, towards motivation keeps you positive and remains consistent until you reach your exciting goals. By which point, the motivation to maintain your great results or even push on beyond these will prevent you ever sliding backwards. Some of the most successful triggers for healthy living behaviour change are examples of towards motivation – getting married, a major family or social event, a sporting event or charity challenge or a new relationship. One of the reasons these events are so powerful is that they are exciting and they lead people to spend quite a lot of time, consciously and unconsciously, working on visualising all elements of success. You can read more about this technique here.

Deepening motivation As you consider generating and maintaining motivation, think about these three steps: 1. Reality Where am I now with my healthy living?

How near or far am I from what I think would be my ideal healthy living routine?

2. Exploring away from motivation triggers

If I continue as I am with my current healthy living approach, the results will be…

If my current behaviour patterns in relation to living a healthy life become more extreme, the most negative consequences could be…

3. Exploring towards motivation triggers

The most important things I want to achieve with my healthy living strategies are…

If I can make positive changes to my healthy living strategies, the most impactful and longest lasting benefits will be…



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