MOTIVATION VS HABIT

Part 1 – How do you get from where you are to where you want to be?

“If nothing changes, nothing changes. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’re getting. You want change, make some.”

Courtney C. Stevens, The Lies About Truth


This is great advice which makes a lot of sense. The problem I find most people experience is making the changes and, most importantly, sticking to them.

This blog has come off the back of a recent video I posted about motivation vs habit. If you haven’t had chance to watch it basically I suggested that when it comes to achieving your goals motivation is irrelevant. It might be what gets you started in the very first place but after that if you wait around for motivation to come and bite you on the behind before you do anything you won’t make any changes.

So how do you get to your goals???

By forming new Habits.

What is a Habit?

A habit is ‘a routine or practice performed regularly; an automatic response to a specific situation’

We all have habits…..brushing our teeth after breakfast; looking in the mirror before we leave the house; biting our fingernails when we are stressed; reaching for the chocolate when we are bored.

Biting your finger nails when stressed is a common ‘bad’ habit.

Some habits can be classed as good, some bad and some neutral. Generally it is much easier to form new ‘good’ habits than it is to quit old ‘bad’ habits.

So how do we form new good habits? We need to repeat a behaviour enough times for it to become automatic.

Sounds simple but this is generally the difficult bit as we tend to seek instant rewards. Stepping on the scale after a week of ‘dieting’ and finding the number hasn’t changed. Realising your tenth run is just as hard as your first run. Can all lead to us being despondent and giving up on our fat loss or marathon training plan.

Behaviour Change is a scientific process, it’s difficult and it needs to be learned, we have an entire course on ‘Coaching Behaviour Change’ during our Personal Training qualification. I want to try and simplify it for you however. Here are a few ways you are more likely to form new habits.

1. Schedule your new Habit – if you were to look at my calendar on the wall you would see all my classes, PT clients, various appointments and my own training. I schedule in my own training like I do my client’s. Tuesday 9:30am = Long Run, Thursday 6pm-7pm = circuits. I won’t arrange anything else at these times. This way I don’t have to worry about fitting things in or struggling with motivation. At first of course they take a bit more effort but repeated enough times and they become a part of my week they are now my habits.

2. Think of your habits as ‘identity’ based rather than ‘outcome’ based. This is a concept I read about in James Clear’s book ‘Atomic Habits’* which really resonates with me. Rather than your goal being to run a marathon (outcome based), change your goal to being a runner (identity based). Rather than having a goal to lose ten pounds (outcome based), change your goal to being a healthier person (identity based). You then make choices based on that identity….to run three times a week or to chose healthier options at meal times. The more your habits are linked to your identity the easier they will be to repeat. Get into the frame of mind of that identity. When faced with choices ask yourself ‘what would a runner do?’ ‘They would go for a run today!’ ‘What would a healthy person chose for breakfast?’ Once this new identity is embedded it will then last you longer that your goal. Once you run a marathon you are more likely to keep running. Once you lose ten pounds you are more likely to keep it off as this is your new YOU!

3. Keep it realistic! When setting goals for clients I will always set a long term goal and a number of short term goals. These short term goals break down the long term goal into smaller, easier achieved targets. For example someone who has a long term goal to lose a stone in weight. Our short term goals might be to lose six pounds a month. The idea behind this is again linked to our psychological need for rewards. Seeing a six pound loss in four weeks is easier to achieve and is likely to keep you on track and motivated (there’s that word again!) to keep your new habits (the ones that have enabled you to lose the weight) going.

Conclusion

Of course there is so much more to say on this subject but these three points are a great way for people to get started. Potentially there could be some old ‘bad’ habits hindering the new ‘good’ habits you are trying to form and that is certainly something I work on with some of my Personal Training clients.

Of course this concept can apply to any aspect of your life. I have focused on health and fitness as this is my specialism but you could also use this for a work promotion or to save more money for example.

What I really want you to take away from this though is that just because you don’t feel motivated doesn’t mean you can’t still achieve what you want to. Just follow the three steps above and you will be well on your way to being a runner or a fitter, healthier or stronger person!

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