Another year is coming to a close. What were the highlights for you? Celebrate those and then look at where you can plan to do better in the future. But real, lasting change doesn’t happen with a resolution. Follow a path to make it happen and make it stick. But what does it take to make positive change?
The simple answer is motivation.
But I’m talking about the kind of motivation that gets you excited at the thought of it. The powerful desire to push yourself, to never allow excuses to give you an “out”. When the motivation is powerful enough, you can change.
If you want to change, you must believe in the reason for it and have heartfelt hope that it can happen.
Change isn’t easy. And it can appear too difficult for some people.
A study of cigarette smokers who were diagnosed with lung cancer showed that even after treatment, 13.4% of lung cancer survivors continued to smoke. Similar results have been shown with studies of cardiac patients who continued unhealthy and risky behaviors in spite of their treatment.
When your life is at risk and you can’t change to save your life, what more do you need? For some people, the weight of change is just too much to bear.
What drives your motivation to change?
We can all benefit from positive change. Maybe you could be more timely, more responsive, less addicted to your phone, or make better use of your time. These aren’t life-saving changes but they’re certainly helpful in your daily life.
As you decide on the changes, consider your motivation. Is it strong enough to drive you to alter your current behaviors?
Try digging deeper. For example, if you want to lose weight, it’s not just because you want to look and feel better. You probably are hoping to live longer, long enough to see your kids grow up and have kids of their own, or to turn more dreams into reality.
Is your goal to improve your work habits? What would those changes get you? A promotion? Higher income? Think about other benefits, like increased confidence, the ability to inspire and lead others, and being the driver of greater change.
So, look at the deeper motivation.
Understand the types of motivation
There are two types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic.
Extrinsic motivation is the desire to be rewarded or avoid negative consequences (the reward being the absence of punishment). A financial bonus is an example of extrinsic motivation. Students are extrinsically motivated to earn good grades, which could lead to other rewards (like more career opportunities). Competitors are motivated to win a prize, even if it’s just a title. Stores offer extrinsic motivation to shoppers in the form of discounts, rewards, and special offers.
Intrinsic motivation is internal, the desire to achieve satisfaction from an action or behavior, without a visible reward dangling out there. It’s often demonstrated in our passions. We volunteer because we feel good about helping others. We learn because we enjoy feeding our curiosity and hunger for more knowledge. We train because we appreciate the value of mastery.
Avoiding negative repercussions also reflects intrinsic motivation. We don’t want to disappoint, to draw the anger of the boss or partner, or live an unhealthy life that leaves us feeling tired and unhappy.
Look at what you want to change. Write the motivators for each one.
Now, think about the motivation in relation to the change. Is it strong enough for you to succeed?
You’re the only one in control of change.
What does it take to change? Whether or not you succeed is entirely up to you. But remember this: You must manage change or the change will manage you.
There’s a new year around the corner. Don’t waste your time with resolutions that will fade away quickly. Work on a change management plan that describes the changes you want to make. Then answer the questions of why, how, and when.