Motivation, the thing that impels you to action, can be tracked back to one of two sources; pain or pleasure. You either take action because you are feeling in pain or because you want to achieve some form of pleasure.
Motivation that comes from pain, tends to be more immediate and triggers reactive behaviours, whereas your motivation for pleasure is more often proactive and based on something you want in the future. Pain motivation tends to be focused on ‘moving away’ from something, whereas pleasure motivation is more about ‘moving towards’ something.
Understanding the different forms of motivation can be very helpful to achieve lasting success. When it comes to losing weight, many people are initially motivated by pain, they are uncomfortable with how they look, dislike the feelings they have and are upset with the voices in their head, nagging and bullying them to change. This is why health club memberships increase in January, when the hangovers of Xmas take effect, or in June just before we head to the beaches and in September just after the sun disappears. All times when we tend not to feel at our best.
Away from motivation can be very useful, most people are motivated initially by pain rather than by pleasure. The problem with this form of motivation though, is that is rarely lasts the journey. If at first you are motivated to get into better shape by how you currently feel or see yourself, as you do something about it and the weight comes off, your motivation will drop away too. This is one of the reasons for yo-yo dieting. As you move away from the sources of your motivation, you begin to lose focus and slowly but surely revert back to the behaviours that caused you to put on the weight in the first place. Before you know it, you are back where you started or even more likely, heavier than when you started!
So, although pain or your discomfort, gets you to take action, to maintain action, you need to have a towards or pleasure based vision to keep you on track. This is often referred to as your why. You need to be clear about the benefits that you are going to gain by losing weight. How will your life be if you get into great shape?
When I first started working with people on changing their shape, I was very surprised how few people knew the answer to question, “What will be different in your life once you lose the weight?” Now I understand that people struggle to answer this question because it is not the thing that caused them to take action at the outset.
With my clients, I always get them to spend some time thinking about how their lives will be different, 3 months, 6 months, a year and 5 years from now if they achieve their goals. How will they see themselves, what will they look like? What will other people say about them? How will they feel, what qualities will they possess? What will they be doing? I can’t emphasise enough, how important this exercise is in creating a powerful vision.
When the motivation from the initial pain begins to subside, it is the potential pleasure that will come from the vision that ensures you stay true to your path. When obstacles and distractions knock you off your path, it is your vision that will enable you to get back on it. If you haven’t already done so, I recommend you sit down in a quiet place, take a pen and a blank piece of paper and begin to dream of your new self and how things could be for you. If you feel brave enough, you might even want to share it with others, this will increase your commitment to your goal and give permission for others to do the same.