Are you really motivated to change?

We have all been there. Something need to be changed or added in order to improve our life. All that’s needed is to get that done. That’s where the hard part starts. Just like in sales, our worst competitor is status quo. Doing what we already do is so much easier than making a decision to change and then act on that decision.

Action speaks louder than words

What’s needed?

There are a few things needed in order to actually make the changes we want.

  • A goal, what do you want to achieve.
  • A reason, what motivates you to actually change?
  • A plan, when during the day can you do it? Where does it fit in without complicating life too much.
  • Action and perseverance.

Change requires a goal

We need a goal, a colourful attractive goal that works like a lighthouse and shows us where to go. What do you want to achieve? Ignore what others want, changes are all about you and your own motivation.
Write down your goal in just a few words, put it somewhere you can easily see it and be reminded of it.

If needed, break down your goal into sub-goals and steps before planning.

Change requires a strong reason

Change requires action, perseverance, grit and above all a solid to us attractive reason. What’s the reason for us to get up and start doing something? Our reason shall keep us on track and actually do what’s needed. A weak reason makes us try a few times and then it all fades away.

We need a reason so strong that it kills all the excuses we can come up with to get off the hook and do nothing.

Change requires action

Action speaks louder than words. Change requires action. The decision to make a change and thinking about doing it amounts to nothing without action.

Change requires perseverance

Change is like learning to ride a bike. For most of us it takes more than one try. You fall, get up, dust yourself off and get back on the bike. It will work better this time. Changes work the same way. Sometimes we forget or it goes wrong. The key here is to try again, next time will be better.

Make the decision

Making the decision is the easy part. The decision in itself requires no action. Our brain is lazy. It’s pleased by making the decision and doesn’t care much about actually carrying it out. The brain makes us feel pleased and satisfied with making the decision. Once we have made the decision our brain wants to move on to other things. “We’ve made the decision, now let us move on.”

Start small!

When it’s time to actually change our brain gets very creative with excuses to avoid it. “There’s no time today. Let us wait until tomorrow.” “I’ll do it later.” If our goal seems too big we never will get started. It’s too scary, too much effort is required and it will turn into a someday project. “I’ll do it someday.”

The trick is to start small. Our intention is to create a lasting habit. Once that’s done we can expand on it. Start small, your resistance is low and excuses are hard to make up. Instead of saying I want to walk an hour a day, aim for five minutes. Once you’re out it might be more. Instead of saying I want to get 30 minutes of intense exercise each day (starting with none at all), start small with five minutes light exercise to create the habit to exercise each day.

Examples

My morning yoga

Many say you need to do yoga for at least an hour or it will have no real effect. That’s placing the bar high, how many can squeeze an hour of yoga into already busy days? Five minutes of daily yoga practice is far better than no yoga at all. What actually gets done makes more difference than tons of good intentions.

Ten years ago I asked my yoga teacher for a five minute program I could do at home. It’s hard to honestly claim that five minutes of time is impossible to find in a day. I started doing it in the morning, day after day. It turned into a habit and later into a craving, I need it to get a good morning. Over time it has expanded and is now 15-20 minutes each morning. The program has changed over the years. The reason I continue is still the same, I want an agile body.

My daily exercise

Exercise for me has nothing to do with looking or feeling younger. My goal is to exercise daily, my reason is that I want an agile and stronger body as I grow older. The exercises I pick shall require nothing but my body and be able to do anywhere. Knowing it takes time to create lasting habits I added one exercise at a time. By starting small I have over time created a great morning routine.

Nine months ago I started doing squats in the morning. I started with few squats in order to create the habit. By now I do 50 each morning.

Eight months ago I started doing situps every morning. My goal was to create the habit, not setting any records. I started with few situps, the important thing was doing them at all. It has grown over time, now I do 50 situps each morning. That’s something I thought was far out of reach when I started. If my goal had been to do 50 situps I would have given up early, it was too much for me when I started.

Many of you have probably seen the 30 day plank challenge. You start with 10 seconds and then add until you do 3 minutes a day. That kind of challenge does not work for me. A month ago I started doing the plank in the morning. I had the benefits of doing situps for a longer time so once I got started with the plank it was easy to continue.

It’s about you!

What can you do to make your changes easier? To make them at all and then stick to them.

How to fail without being a failure

I came across 6 Truths About Failing Better, From “Odd Couple” Star And Billion-Dollar Screenwriter Thomas Lennon. It’s about a screen-writer and I have no idea where the billion dollars in the header comes from. Still, it’s a great post about how to fail without being a failure.

Lennon says “You really need to be able to dust yourself off and get back up because you will get knocked out over and over and over again. Don’t take things personally because otherwise your feelings would be in a constant state of being crushed.”

What If Money Was No Object?

Alan Watts is a favorite of mine, a wise man and there are many talks available online. “What If Money Was No Object?” gives food for thoughts – what would you do if money was no object?

Video: What If Money Was No Object? – Alan Watts

You can watch the video below or at YouTube at What If Money Was No Object? – Alan Watts.

There’s a cartoon version available at Alan Watts – What If Money Were No Object (comics with sound).

The value of quitting

The post Why I love to quit popped up in my stream again. It’s a valuable post since it gives a different view of quitting.

By not quitting, we’re saying no to all other opportunities. We’re saying no to trying different routes or options, or doing something in a new way. We’re saying no to spending our time, money and effort elsewhere

Quitting is a direct action that leads to a more thoughtful and efficient way of spending our limited resources. There’s value in choice, in quitting, and in accepting that neither is failure. Quitting is really just opening up to new, possibly unknown, opportunities. Yes, it could lead to everything going to shit, but if it’s already gone to shit, why not quit?

Reduce the number of decisions

Through LinkedIn I came across an interesting article, The Genius of Wearing the Same Outfit Every Day. It gives two different reasons. One is to cut down on the number of decisions, the other is to create a brand (think Steve Jobs).

President Barack Obama gave this reason for wearing a blue or gray suit all the time all the time.

I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.

Cutting down on the number of ordinary decisions makes a lot of sense.

Two college professors who have studied decision-making, Kathleen Vohs and Barry Schwartz, both found that a person has a limited amount of brain power in a day, so the more decisions they have to make, the weaker their decision-making process becomes.

Which ordinary decisions can you simplify?

The Boring Trait Google Looks For in Its Leaders

A really interesting article about leadership turned up in my Facebook stream. It’s The Boring Trait Google Looks For in Its Leaders.

The prototypical leader is a hero: gives the rousing speech, inspires the troops, and shows up at the last minute to save the day. At least that’s how leaders are portrayed. but that’s not at all what Google discovered as their most important qualities.

At Google, they’re obsessive about looking at data to determine what makes employees successful and what they found in the numbers was surprising. The most important character trait of a leader is one that you’re more likely to associate with a dull person than a dynamic leader: predictability

The article says “Autonomy is the key to employee happiness and outsized performance” which is interesting. Autonomy is one of the factors that Dan Pink mentions as essential in modern motivation (see links below).

I like the summary:

Great leadership is never about being a dramatic hero. It’s just not about you. Instead it’s about providing support to your team by being willing to be seen as boring and predictable.

Provide information they need, work from their perspective, cultivate their performance by offering them the oxygen to succeed. Then they’ll have the breathing room and self-determination to shine.

Read about motivation:
Motivation, Drive and Dan Pink
Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation