Our motivation for making a change has to be stronger than our motivation for remaining the same. This seems simple and straightforward enough, so why is it often so hard to stay motivated?
There’s a cost associated with every choice we make. In order to have one thing, we have to give up something else. Staying motivated is easy enough when the decision we’ve made requires little effort. But if we’ve decided to do something that requires more time or energy or that simply goes against the flow of those around us, it will eventually be difficult to stay motivated to keep going. Therefore, we may question ourselves and wonder if the decision we’ve made is really worthwhile.
Write It Down
That’s why, when looking to make a change, the one thing that I suggest doing before anything else is writing down your reasons for making the choice you’ve made. What’s your motivation? You can write it on paper, keep a list on your phone or computer, whatever works for you. You just need to be able to refer back to it when things get difficult because, in all likelihood, they will. This list will help you when things get tough down the road, but it’ll also help you get started. As I mentioned here, we often get stuck in a loop of wanting change, but we struggle to make it a reality. This list can be your first action, your first step toward making a change and when you’re done, you have a whole index of reasons to keep going.
Doing this changed my entire mindset about going to the gym. After decades of working out, for the first time in my life, going to the gym was no longer about losing weight. Instead, it was about getting stronger, boosting my mental health, increasing my mobility, setting an example for my son, and preventing health issues as I get older.
My list involves long-term benefits but also immediate benefits. It’s helpful to see what I stand to gain right away by choosing to stick with it. Now, I hardly ever have to talk myself into going to the gym. Of course, there are days where it seems preferable to stay home. But as I said, every choice has a cost, and I know exactly what I’m choosing to give up if I don’t go. Missing one day probably won’t have an effect on my strength, long-term, but I won’t get the brain boost that I always feel after working out. So then it’s just a matter of deciding if I want to trade the mood lift for the ability to stay home.
I’ve used the gym as an example, but this is a great tool for life in general. I have a list of reasons I want to go to the gym and a list of reasons for changing the way I eat. I also have a list I made regarding my decision to stay home with my son instead of going back to work. You could even make a list of reasons you want to clean out your closet. The bottom line is that knowing exactly why you want to make a change is incredibly valuable. It’s really hard to stay on track if you don’t know why you’re there in the first place.
If you’re interested in trying this for yourself, see below for some tips and examples that may help you get started.
Things to Consider When Making Your List
Make It Easy
Set a timer for ten or fifteen minutes and just write whatever comes to mind. You can edit later.
Make It Personal
This is about what you want or how you feel, not about what you think you “should” do.
Make It Detailed
You want to see every single thing you stand to gain by making this change.
My list of reasons to go to the gym includes lifted mood, clearer mind, and social benefits instead of simply saying “it’s good for my mental health.”
Motivation to Keep Going to the Gym:
- I want to get stronger
- My mood is lifted after I work out
- My mind feels more clear after a workout
- I want to increase my mobility
- I have less foot pain on days that I go to the gym
- I want to build muscle that will strengthen my bones
- I’m hoping to decrease future healthcare costs as I age
- I want to serve as an example for my son
- I’m more productive on days that I work out
- I want the social benefits of working out with a group
- I drink more water on days that I work out
- I typically eat healthier on days that I work out
Motivation to Keep Writing:
- My mind feels more clear after I write
- I can work through problems more easily when I write them out
- It helps me figure out how I feel in general
- It helps me figure out how I feel about specific things
- It helps me put things into perspective
- I typically have more energy after a writing session
- It’s easier for me to remember things once I’ve written them down
- I typically feel happier and am in a better mood after I write
- It helps me figure out what I want
- It helps me figure out my values
- It helps me make decisions
- I’m typically more productive on days that I write