Why Motivation doesn’t work!

If you are anything like myself you may have motivational pictures in your bedroom, motivational quotes on your fridge, pictures of your favourite icons scattered around the house, but through years of trying to abstain from bad habits, whether it’s eating sugar-laden foods, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake or anything else you’re trying to pursue with pure willpower, you normally find yourself in an endless feedback loop of failing, feeling guilty, getting over yourself then trying again.

For some people they can go through their entire lives like this, staying overweight, smoking when their GP says it will kill them or drinking themselves into a stupor every weekend. Sounds like nonsense but we see this happening all around us. New Year resolutions for instance rarely last more than a month for the majority… Oh well… there’s always next year in 11 months time, I’ll just continue to eat this bowl of Ben and Jerries until then…

I’ve found the best way to conquer a bad habit is to:

1. Take full responsibility. Acknowledge that only you can help yourself. It’s a battle in your head that no one can fight for you, and by recognizing this, you can not blame others for your failings. If you’ve always got an excuse or blame others, your never going to change! Only you can stop stuffing your fat face, chuck that packet of cigarettes in the bin or lock away the booze for a special occasion.

2. Have a checklist of good habits you want to achieve every day with consistency, write them down and carry them with you. Start off with achievable goals like “I’m allowed an ice cream 20 minutes after my evening meal” or “I can only smoke at 9am, noon and 6pm”. The aim is to try and better yourself 1% a day. If you hit all your goals for that day reward yourself (I like to pay myself credit which I can accumulate to spend on books or sports gear) I find going cold turkey rarely works for people, and it’s much easier to maintain gradual improvements over time.

3. Set a wager with a friend or family member, or try an anti-charity system like www.stickk.com which is basically where you pay an organisation you despise if you don’t hit your goal. By being held accountable by someone else, it will aid you in relieving the mental strain of those choc-chip cookies you were eyeing up after a hard days work.

4. Eliminate any triggers around your house if you can. I know that this can be hard when living with others that aren’t working on a goal. My weakness has always been chocolate as my family always has this in the kitchen despite all my protesting (whilst munching on a Mars bar). What works for me is having a healthy snack draw in my upstairs office so at night when I get the munchies I go there first, as it’s closer to my bedroom and prevents me eating junk. Experiment with methods to help avoid those triggers.

5. Don’t wait until Monday, first day of the month or even worse New Year. If you’re serious about results you’ll stop messing around and get on with your plan today! There will be setbacks occasionally, but this will prevent you from going on an all-out binge lasting until your next goal reset period. I used to eat healthily until about Thursday, and then it was a free-for-all until the following Monday. Now I know if I mess up, the very next day I get out the checklist and carry on with the plan.

Motivation is nice to have and it may act as a catalyst to becoming more disciplined, but by relying on it solely as your main source of acquiring willpower is a road to failure in this stressful modern age. You only have so much willpower throughout the day and it’s constantly being drained like a tank of fuel. That’s why we normally fail in the evenings. By following the advice above it should eliminate the need to constantly dip into your willpower reserves. Planning and setting up your environment to succeed is much easier to follow and maintain than willing yourself not to do something.

Please get in contact or comment below if you would like to share some methods that have helped you stay on task.

Happy New Year resolutions starts now if you actually want to succeed ! Go after it 💪