Here’s the lie:
I’m motivated OR I’m unmotivated
Motivation – it’s just a label.
Behaviorally speaking, “motivation” is a verbal statement that labels our own behaviors and correlates with a particular rate of responding, given the variables in your environment. The idea of being motivated is simply a prediction of our own behavior in terms of adopting healthy habits and can be present given certain circumstances. The truth is in your actions, or lack thereof.
When the word “motivated”, or even “unmotivated”, is used, it may actually mean:
“When my environment is set up like this, I am 99% likely to do X.”
“When my environment is set up like that, I am .01% likely to do X.”
Below is the correct use of the “unmotivated” label:
In the past, when my environment included the below variables, I was less likely to eat more nutrient-dense foods:
Limited prepped foods
Expired food service subscription
Others were eating differently than me
Limited time to cook
Instead of focusing on the arbitrary term of being motivated, let’s focus more on the environmental variables that affect the behaviors that result in those actions leading you to engage in health-related behaviors.
So, here’s how to use the “motivated” label considering the above:
In the past, when my environment included the below variables, I was more likely to eat mostly nutrient-dense foods:
At least 3 days of meals/snack prepared
Food service subscription active
Lengthy time to make a meal
Planned meals ahead of time
True success comes from coaxing out the “intrinsic motivation” – which is the motivation for the behavior itself, not for the outcome of the behavior. Push through the lies you tell yourself that align with being “motivated” or “unmotivated”: “I don’t think I can do it” – releasing this statement will bring you back and allow you to abandon any effort you’ve been making to change because when you think you can’t do something, it’s because you have past evidence that you have failed before. Start fresh, only moving forward.
“Now is just not the right time” – It never is. The truth is, life throws curve balls to test your skills, especially when you least expect it. Whether it be a birthday party, a holiday gathering, a company party, or a global pandemic, there will ALWAYS be something. It’s life, so learning how to live a healthy life while maintaining the newly adopted or already well-established habits that equate to a healthy lifestyle is key to staying the course.
“This is just the way I am” – Don’t settle. You 100% can do it. Instead, turn your negative self-doubting thoughts around with the alternative question, “why can’t I do this?” You have reform your thoughts that you can reach your goals and that nothing is off limits, and your actions will follow.
The idea of motivation is a wonderful idea as it inspires new challenges and positive changes, run with it and allow it to drive you, but don’t let your actions slip when your motivation does. Building discipline around habits will help ensure the long-term success of those habits.
Stop Waiting for Motivation
You will wait a long time for motivation to just catch up to you. Because it is not a thing to observe. We can only observe acts of behavior. To change behavior (and our use of motivation as a label), we must look at environmental events that change the odds of us performing healthy and fit behaviors.
Yoanna Vaughan, BCBA and CNC is a Behavior and Nutrition Coach with KK Wellness Consulting and Certified Wellness Coach through NASM. Yoanna is dedicated and passionate to help others find balance in their lives that promotes and overall healthy lifestyle through all of life’s obstacles. She supports transformations that encompass a whole person approach, targeting mindset, behaviors and lifestyle components. She teaches application of behavior change strategies using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and did so throughout her own weight-loss and wellness journey. Reach Yoanna directly at email@example.com.