The psychology of change

2 minutes to read

If you only read one thing, make it this:

“Don’t let an unhelpful thought grow into a sense of hopelessness and helplessness. A thought is just a thought and the next thought is yours for the choosing.”

 

Motivation isn’t a magic substance you can easily maintain a steady flow of, like oxygen. By nature, it’s likely to wax and wane (a bit like your energy levels on a Monday). So how do you stay on track with your goals, even when motivation levels dip?

“It’s important to acknowledge that motivation never lasts, for anybody,” says positive psychologist Dr Tim Sharp, aka Dr Happy. “However, there are strategies that can boost motivation and with practice, these become easier and quicker to work.

“A great place to start is to weigh up all the pros and cons of doing or not doing whatever it is you’re trying to do. If the advantages outweigh the disadvantages you’re more likely to act.”

Dr Sharp also recommends focusing on the end goal.

“Remind yourself how much better you’ll feel when you do what you want to do,” he suggests. “And set in place rewards every step of the way, so that as you move closer and closer to your goals you’re giving yourself encouragement and even tangible ‘prizes’ for your efforts.”

 

Long-term vision

 

Dr Sharp advocates using visualisation – setting aside a few minutes every day, ideally first thing in the morning, to picture yourself having already achieved your goal.

“Imagine yourself also doing all that you need to do along the way to make this a reality,” he adds. “Some research suggests focusing on the process is just as, if not more, important than focusing on the outcome.

“You can put pictures of your dream or goal up on your wall, on your computer or smartphone as a screensaver, or just have key words you say to yourself to remind you as often as possible.”

 

Here are Dr Sharp’s tips for staying motivated to…

 

  • …change your weight

“Remind yourself WHY you’re doing it rather than just WHAT you’re doing. For example, aiming to be more active so you can enjoy life with your partner or kids will typically be more powerful than [just aiming to lose] 5kg.”

  • …change your thinking

“Don’t let an unhelpful thought grow into a sense of hopelessness and helplessness. A thought is just a thought and the next thought is yours for the choosing.”

  • …change your work ethic

“Take things one step at a time; no one has changed anything significant in just a day or even a week. But positive progress is possible – especially if you focus more on what you want to do rather than on what you don’t want to do.”

 

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