In order to create changes in our habits, there needs to be starting point. The starting point is why do I need to change or create a new habit. What is the reason behind the change? Let’s assume that we have the reason for the desired change. How do we go about achieving this change?
There are basically 2 enablers of behaviour creation or modification and they are:
- Motivation: the reason or desire to do something
- Willpower: a combination of determination and self-discipline that enables someone to do something
What is the difference? The difference lies in “feeling” and “duration”.
Motivation is a feeling that comes up when we want to start something out of excitement but its duration to carry that “feeling” over a period of time is unreliable. For example, new year resolution, everyone who has ever created a new year resolution starts out extremely motivated. Each resolution is carried out with great excitement and anticipation and off they go. However, as time passes and when it gets hard or things get busy and distractions come along, the “feeling” of motivation subsides and passes away. There is no longevity with motivation.
Willpower on the other hand is about determination and self-discipline to not just start something but to complete it. In order to complete any difficult task or activity, there needs to be a determined decision to do it and the discipline to see it through. Without which nothing worthwhile will come out of it. Think of any successful person and the basic characteristic that they will have is sheer willpower to get something done.
For you and I, I think that we need both. We need motivation get us started and we need willpower to keep on going until the finish line. In order to change or create new habits, we need motivation (why we want to change) and then willpower (determination and self-discipline) to carry out the process of change over a period of time until it becomes automatic. In some cases it might take 30 days and with some changes even longer than that. The duration of change is all dependent on the degree of change that you are aiming for.
Motivation gets the ball rolling. When motivation is high, we require less willpower but when the motivation is low, we need more willpower to continue the process of change. It is therefore important to note the role that both motivation and willpower play and how to harness either one for the achievement of any change.
- What is your motivation for change?
- What values is it aligned with?
- What goals does it help you to accomplish?
- What do you find hardest with previous endeavors to change?
- What worked in the past in help you make behavioural changes?
Next, we will explore willpower as key to creating lasting change.
We all need a cheer squad to help us push forward. In tough circumstances having a cheer squad is important. To know that you have people supporting and encouraging you gives you the added courage to take risk, to make a change as well as to continue on a path that you have chosen. Depending on others to help you on is great and to know how you can be your own cheerleader is even better. When you are your own cheerleader, you know how to pick yourself up, know what deeply motivates and drives you and most importantly you are not easily distracted by others.
As good as the people around you may be, there will be times when they might disagree with you, disagree with your approach or not fully understand why you are doing what you are doing. Hence in order to stay the course that you have decided on, you need to be your own cheerleader.
I have discovered that there are 5 ways that you can do that:
- Source of Motivation: What motivates you? What are you passionate about? What are the drivers for this course of action? List them down. Be simple and clear. Make the list visible. Put it up on your fridge or by your mirror. Remind yourself.
- Past Lessons or experiences gained: Recall what were the past lessons and experiences that you had gone through. What did you learn? How did you overcome? What did you gain from going through the previous tough times? Reflecting on what happened in the past and how you succeed will help you to gain the confidence and courage that you need when you are faced with tough challenges.
- Be positive or Don’t beat yourself up: When the situation is tough, don’t beat yourself up. Don’t pull down who you are but challenge your actions. Actions and decisions can be changed, modified and problems can be solved. Know who you are and what you are good at. Ask yourself, what are my strengths? List them down. List down positive quotes and motivation quotes that resonates with you. Listen to music that inspires you. Reminding yourself of your strengths will give you the encouragement that you can do it. You have the skills, abilities and talents to achieve your goal. There are times when the actions that we have taken needs to be corrected or ideas need to be innovated. Make the adjustments. Don’t hold on to process or steps as there are many ways to achieve the same outcome. Don’t confuse the outcome with the methods. Just make sure that you are not doubting who you are in the process.
- Reward yourself: It is always fun when you achieve a certain milestone. Learn to reward yourself for it. The milestone can be whatever you deem right. The reward should be equivalent to the task. The idea of rewarding yourself is so that you can celebrate the achievement. Acknowledge that you have made it this far. To know just how much or little more you have to do to accomplish your goal.
- Celebrate: Don’t be shy to celebrate an accomplishment. That’s what a cheer squad does, it celebrates accomplishments. Celebrate and share the moment with others. It not only feels great, it will also motivate those around you.
I believe that each of us need to be our own cheerleader as that’s the only “person” that is with you all the time. The responsibility is in your hands. Cheer squad is great to help support you but they can’t do what you need to do. Your actions are in your hands.