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Trouble finding motivation for New Years Resolutions

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

Trouble finding motivation for New Years Resolutions

Scott Miker

Setting goals or New Years Resolution can be a great way to take charge of the direction of your life.  But too often these are misunderstood.  They are set and then we expect motivation, effort and willpower to take over and drive us towards success.

But this is misleading.  Have you ever set a goal but then over the next week or so completely lost the motivation to pursue that goal?  Of course.  We all have.

Why is it so difficult to keep that motivation and keep going?  No matter how pumped we are when we set the goal, something seems to change and we lose all energy when we need it most.

What I have found is that motivation isn’t really as important as we think it is.  What are really important are our habits.  What are we doing over and over again, almost automatically?  That is where the power is.  Hone that and the motivation will follow.  Ignore that and the motivation will be fleeting. 

So if you found you have lost the motivation, change your perspective.  Instead of trying to will yourself to do something big, start by doing something incredibly small and easy.  But don’t just do that once and expect results.  Do that over and over again until it starts to become habit. 

Then once it becomes a habit, you can add more to it. 

What is the hardest part of getting in shape by starting an exercise program?  It is the first initial adjustment in your daily routines.  We get that “I don’t feel like doing this” feeling and then it saps our energy.  So what if you change that feeling to be different?

The technique I use is to set a minimum.  Basically, find one incredibly small step that gets you started but is really easy to do.  Then do it over and over again until it becomes so automatic that you don’t have to use motivation or willpower, it keeps going out of habit. 

So, instead of wanting to workout every other day for 2 hours, start with working out for 10 minutes every day.  The repetition is much more important than the length at this point so even if you cut it down to 60 seconds every day, do that. 

But each day, know that after you hit that minimum you set, you are free to stop or keep going.  But, even if you worked out for five hours, the next day you go back to the original minimum!  Don’t be a hero and try to out do yesterday’s workout.  Just do the minimum and then decide if you want to keep going or not. 

The reason is that one five-hour workout means nothing if it isn’t followed up with many more workouts.  But doing that long, difficult workout will mess with you psychologically.  The next day, in your head you will be thinking, “I really don’t want to have to do that again, I’m too tired.”  But if all you have to do is a small minimum workout, you are much more likely to think, “I can just do the minimum today since I’m tired.”

It might seem like this is a weak attempt at your goal.  But it isn’t.  It is building a very powerful pattern in your life (habit) that you can then leverage to do more and more and more over time.  Because this helps you keep going, what you do every day means much more than what you do once. 

National Championship winning football coach Jimbo Fisher once said, “I think motivation comes from within.  I think you can inspire people quickly, but I think that wears off.  I think the motivation is in your habits.”

Do you have trouble finding the motivation to keep going after your New Years Resolution?  Regain the motivation by looking to your habits instead of sheer effort or willpower.  This will help you unlock the power of repetition and drive you towards success.