By Mary Jaksch
Have you ever wanted to establish a new habit but then your motivation wavered and waned? You are not alone. It happens to most people.
Many people who wanted to join the Fitness Challenge wrote that they were nervous about losing motivation along the way. One person said (echoing the concern of many others): “My weakness is that I start and then stop too quickly.”
Does that sound familiar?
I’ve read many books and articles on motivation and they are all inspiring and wonderful. But they don’t mention the key problem:
Motivation doesn’t work
It doesn’t work because it’s not a strong mental force. Bad news, eh? The Oxford Dictionary defines motivation as a desire or willingness to do something. Here’s what happens:
You get an idea of how you would like to change. Maybe you want to lose weight, get fit, rise early, or go back to school. You read an inspiring article, or go to a meeting and you’re all fired up. Motivation is at its peak.
The problem is, a few days later you no longer feel motivated. It’s all become just too difficult. In fact, you feel worse than you did before you read the article or joined the meeting. You just can’t find whatever it takes to stay “motivated”.
It happened to me a few years ago when I started to study for a Masters in Religious Studies. At first I was excited and looked forward to the challenge. But after a few months I felt overwhelmed. Free time was eaten up by my studies, and I was always running behind with my assignments. Just six months into the program, my motivation was at low ebb. It all just seemed too much.
Nevertheless, I graduated three years later. How did I do it? I discovered a mental force that is much stronger than mere motivation.
The problem with motivation
If you rely on motivation to carry you through, you’re doomed to fail whatever it is you want to achieve. Because motivation is an unstable force. It’s like the weather: sometimes the sun shines, and sometimes it rains. Motivation depends on many variables. If you’re tired, or hungry, stressed, or unwell, your motivation will be low. When than you’re rested, your motivation will be higher.
What is the strongest mental force?
If you really want to change, you need to focus on a mental power that is stable and will see you through the dips and surges of motivation. We all have this power, but we have to dig deep in order to activate it. Our secret mental weapon is called resolve.
Resolve is the power that makes change happen
Let me give you an example. In my twenties I was a heavy smoker. I smoked more than 30 cigarettes a day. I tried to stop three times. The first two times I was well motivated. I could see that it would be beneficial for my health. I gave up for a few months, but then I broke up with a boyfriend, was stressed at work. Next thing, I was back to heavy smoking.
The third time was different. I made a commitment to myself that I would stop. I resolved to stop, no matter how hard it would be. And it was hard. Very hard. But since then I’ve never touched a cigarette again.
Resolve is a solemn promise to yourself
Before you make the promise, think carefully about the ‘why’. What is your deepest reason for wanting to change? If the reason is that you want to please others, expect problems. But if the ‘why’ comes from your deepest aspiration, then your resolve will be strong. Here are three important tips:
1. Expect your motivation to waver
If you accept that motivation will waver, then you’ll be better prepared to work through those dips. Resolve to keep going, no matter what.
2. Set a schedule
Write up a schedule and stick to it. For example, I do karate. I stick to a schedule of classes that I go to each week. I don’t take any notice of how I feel about going. I just pack my karate gear and get into the car. It’s much easier to make a one-time resolution about what my training schedule is, than to make a new decision before each training session on whether I’m going to go or not.
3. Tap your passion
If you do undertake something that you are passionate about, it’s going to be much easier to make a resolution and stay on track. It can be difficult to find your passion. Actually, a good friend of mine, Barrie Davenport, has created an inspiring course, called Discover Your Passion. She’s also published a free Ebook that I highly recommend. I’ve written about Barrie’s inspiring course and book: click here to read more.
These three tips will help you to dig deep and activate your resolve. Remember, it’s a solemn promise that you make to yourself. It can be helpful to share your resolve with others.
What is your experience of motivation and resolve? Please share in the comments.