By Clive Lindley-Jones | August 30, 2013 12:54 pm
What is my motivation?
This is often a refrain when actors are trying to get under the skin of their character in working up a part, but it is also a useful question that we can ask ourselves in life.
This month I want to remind you to look again at what and how you motivate yourself. What is your motivation? Are you mainly in the driving seat or are you driven by the urgent needs of outside forces? Urgency is an artificial and mechanical demand that must be disciplined! Others can drive us or even inspire and lead us, but ultimately it is what we do under our own values and purpose that will drive us most effectively to a life of profound achievement and satisfaction. Perhaps Motivation is too ephemeral an emotion and we should think rather, what drives us, what emotion is fuelling us. For motivation can come and go, while if one has a drive it can work effectively away in the background for decades.
Clinicians like me are often trying to motivate people to move and enjoy the health benefits that accrue from exercise. Food manufacturers and governments, on the other hand, are often trying either to associate their often unhealthy offerings, or policies, with vigorous young athletes, or sponsoring school sports in an attempt to hide the damaging effects of consuming their food or living with the results of their dubious policies. Both of our efforts to motivate or inspire in others a drive for exercise mostly fail as we keep seeing from surveys appearing in the press on the size of the ‘obesity mountain’ or, like the recent study from the Centre for Market and Public Organisation at Bristol University, tell us how little some of us move.
This study highlighted the shockingly low levels of exercise of the nation, with eye catching figures of about one in 10 adults not having walked continuously for five minutes in the past four weeks. The study showed that nearly 80% of the population failed to hit key national government targets.
As usual in our increasingly unequal society, the real difficulty in keeping active was strongly associated with the individual’s education, household income and local area deprivation. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the UK is both one of the most unequal and one of the least physically active nations in Europe. So motivation or better still, drive, is a key player here. Not just at an individual level but also at a societal one too. Think only of the difference in cycling policy of the UK and Dutch governments.
As you know, if you are a reader of these health-E blogs, I have written about the key role of exercise in health, longevity and older age independence a number of times, here, here and here as well as a popular account of my coast to coast walk across the Country three years ago, here.
And here I have a whole detailed guide on, Why Bother with Exercise.
However, today I want to think more generally about how we motivate ourselves, not only to move but to do anything we know might be good for us, whether it be getting our work done, eating well, meditating, slowing down, getting more socially connected (probably THE key life-style improvement we all need most), or planning our goals as well as our days. Later you can read about Kerstin’s excellent Life-Time Coaching Course that she does with those who want to comfortably get on top of the endless pressures we all feel we are under these days.
What makes you do anything? Put at its most simply we are all motivated by two simple forces. Away from pain and Towards pleasure. Everything we do all day is governed in some key way by this principle. Interestingly, most of us do more to avoid pain than to gain pleasure. Nobel prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman points out how we are twice as averse to risk losing something than gaining something.
Do you look at all the things you should do and just feel depressingly overwhelmed? If so, step back for a moment. If you would dearly like to change things but cannot find the drive to change things and have them better in your life, do not despair.
- Make a list of all the things you want/need to do. All those pressing should do’s in your life, the big rocks as well as the little pebbles. Look at that list, and ask yourself which are absolute MUSTS and which perhaps can be down-graded. Some perhaps can be delegated to others and some struck off your list altogether. You almost certainly have too many MUSTs already, can you dispose of some? Perhaps they really are not yours but are someone else's!
- Use pleasure and pain. Regularly link in your mind plenty of pleasure to achieving the outcome and plenty of pain to not.
- Find a higher reason for doing what you are doing. Interestingly considering how selfish we can all be at times, most of us will do more for others than we might for ourselves.
- Put the Big rocks in First. The late Steven Covey used a useful metaphor. If you had to fill a big jar with rocks, pebbles, sand and water, the order you put them in is crucial. If you start with the water and fill it up near the top, you will only have to put one or two pebbles in to find the water spilling over the top. If, on the other hand, you start with the big rocks, the important but perhaps not urgent things in your life, like spending time with someone, taking regular exercise, writing that book you have in you, then with those big rocks in place start filling the smaller rocks and pebbles in around them, then add the sand and finally the water which will just fill in all the spaces you had not noticed. Frankly, I must admit I am on a long learning curve with all this. Still I am not a wonderful model of what I write here, but I am changing and learning to get the big rocks of my life in as a high priority.
So next time you get frazzled, STOP, calm down, and reflect. If there is no time to do so then, commit to a time when you can look at your life and start what Tony Robbins called an OPA, an Outcome focused, Purpose driven Action Plan! So we need to link the results we are after or our outcome with the reasons we would want them. Not just the superficial reasons, but the deep emotion laden purpose the why that we would do this.
All of us, at times, have got so mesmerized by the need for ACTION we have lost connection, if we ever had it, with the higher outcome we really were engaged in action to achieve, and we have rarely stopped to associate this outcome with our higher purpose in life.
Watch all those Should’s and Must’s. Too many and our quality of life soon diminishes.
If we change what we focus on and change the meaning we give to things, we have the power to change our lives!
So my challenge to you (and myself) is to have a long hard look, not so much at what I am doing, but how I am motivating myself and how I can make this better. This way, if we give this serious time and consideration, the changes in our lives we most desire will naturally follow. By connecting to the purpose that you are running your life for, and the most important outcome you are aiming at, in any action, you will naturally connect to your deepest beliefs about your life.
If you are not sure how to achieve this, simply ask yourself the recurrent question, And What will that give me? Then when you have an answer, as the question again so that in NLP speak, you have chunked up your basic motivation to a higher and bigger motive that is far more likely to take you to a more empowering and meaning-rich reason that you can really get behind. Doing this regularly in all the small actions you engage with each day will have two effects.
One it will call into question any actions that you are busily engaged in, but are not really connected to any of your higher values and purpose in your life.
Two all those trivial actions like cleaning the loo, gradually start to be connected to higher and more purposeful, larger reasons and purpose.
To finish let us take a simple and seemingly trivial example.
Cooking a meal. You may live alone, or have a big family to care and cook for. At times at the end of the day it can feel hard work to get down to cooking. How would it feel however if you had connected to the higher purpose of being the best you could be at all you undertake? Your outcome is feeding your loved ones (including yourself) the most nutritious food to give them both pleasure and good lasting health. With this in mind you had taken the time to plan what you would cook each day and sourced the food ahead of time.
Now as you take action in cooking you keep these things in the back of our mind and remember that choosing to cook a simple meal is, rather than a chore, an integral part of your overarching purpose in life. If you still hate cooking perhaps you can find a way of adding value in another way so that others can cook for you as you do something else. If not, at least you can link the cooking to more significant outcomes and purposes that reflect the deeper you, and not just get lost in the chore of cooking as you fume your resentment toxically into the meal.
I know, not always so simple, but you get the idea. If you would like to go deeper into this process and spend some time really changing your life and how you set yourself up in these areas of time and life management you might want to consider getting some great coaching on this. Read on...
Life-Time coaching with Kerstin Lindley-Jones
I am the kind of person who can’t keep large amounts of different information in my head at the same time, so I used to find life very stressful and often forgot where I was supposed to be at a particular time. This was particularly difficult when I had 3 young children who all needed different things with them to school or out of school activities as well as having to make sure that I was available for therapy clients at their appointed times. I tried to use ordinary pocket diary systems, but found that even so life was often a hit and miss affair. Then I learnt the Anthony Robbins Time & Life Management System. This was followed by the Stephen Covey ‘First Things First’ Time Management System and over the years I have honed my planning to suit me and my personality and needs.
I used to have ‘to-do’ lists as long as my arm and these just left me feeling weighed down and there was no joy.
Now I associate each task to my purpose and outcomes and focus on what really matters in my life. Why do I do what I’m doing? By going through my life in a systematic way and connecting with the meaning behind the different ‘roles’ I have in life, I find that when I get down to scheduling I have much more inspiration and creativity than I used to have. Life is much less stressful and has more of an easy flow to it.
Having had 17 years of experience of this type of life-time planning, I am now helping others to change their life around through a specific short term one-to-one coaching programme.
THROUGH THIS PROGRAMME YOU WILL LEARN A SIMPLE, STRAIGHTFORWARD AND SYSTEMATIC APPROACH TO TRANSFORMING THE QUALITY OF YOUR LIFE
Clarifying your different private and professional roles
Deeply connecting with your ultimate outcome for each of these roles
Knowing in both mind and heart WHY these outcomes are important to you
Learning to set up a planning system that will work for you for years to come
Getting you on the road to planning the actions that are needed to
get you to your outcomes
With the help of my 30 years+ experience as a Transpersonal Psychotherapist and then Coach, we will uniquely tailor your Life-Time management system to help you meet your daily life with inspiration, joy and creativity.
Book of the Month
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith