Do you ever wonder where motivation comes from? Do you have goals that go by the wayside because your motivation seems to have waned?
This is definitely goal-setting season! There is a process for reaching a goal that I put into a graphic a while back that helps to define where we are in our goal-achieving process—and waning motivation is simply part of the process! It is also where our work really begins.
I call the process, “Process for Taking a Spiritual Step”, because any goal or change we are working on is a spiritual step within itself! The steps are: Commitment, Resistance, Strengthening, Triumph, and New Energy. The more we understand this process, the more readily we can cooperate with it, and do our part to generate the motivation to make it happen!
Commitment The first thing we do, obviously, is to define and commit to a goal. This is the step where the motivation energy comes in to support us. We feel excited about our commitment, we are enthusiastic about taking steps towards it, and goal-achievement seems easy!
For example, let’s say my goal for the year is eating healthier foods. I may feel energized by thinking about how to incorporate healthier foods in my diet everyday: what I’ll buy at the store, what recipes I’ll try out, what I’ll add to my diet and what I’ll keep out—all those might be fun to think about!
Resistance …for about three weeks. Then the novelty wears off, I don’t feel the new energy of my commitment as strongly as I did at first, and the new behaviors I need to incorporate just aren’t as fun anymore. This is the resistance stage. It is where our new behavior runs up against our old behavior, and we hit what I call the “Wall of Status Quo”. This is where the real work begins.
We are status quo beings. Our bodies are designed to maintain functioning at a status quo level, and our minds and emotions operate that way as well. In my example, eating poorly might have been my status quo at the time I set my goal. That status quo was built on thousands of small choices that created a thought-form in my mind, brain, emotions, and body, that made eating poorly the automatic mode of behavior. When I try to change that behavior, I am going to naturally run up against these systems that have been used to a certain way of being. That is the Wall of Status Quo, and it will start talking to me in ways that could pull me back into that old behavior. That resistance talk might sound like, “I’ve tried this before and failed, why bother?” Or, “I really don’t want to do this anymore; it’s not fun now.” Or, “This is too hard.” Often, it will turn into the critical voice we all battle, and get really nasty with us.
But when we can see it is just the old behavior trying to maintain itself, we can impersonalize it a bit and stand up to it. We could say, “No, I understand that you’re just the old behavior talking. I am making new choices now.” Or, “Oh, I see you, silly Wall of Status Quo! You can’t fool me!” Or, “My excitement doesn’t feel as strong, so I have to make my new choices even when I don’t ‘feel like it’”.
Strengthening Many times a day we have to redirect ourselves back to the new behavior. We make those little choices to withdraw from the old behavior and reinforce the new. It takes time, persistence, and patience.
Triumph But eventually we win out. Eventually, our new status quo is created and becomes part of who we are.
New Energy and Insight We begin to see things in new ways. In my example, it might be easier for me to choose kale over cookies, fruit over sugar, salad over bread. I can remember that it used to be hard to make those choices, but now it seems easy. Why? Because I have created a new status quo for myself!
The process then starts over and repeats with the next commitment we want to make for ourselves. It’s a process! And we can cooperate with it and generate motivation through our awareness and moment-by-moment choices.
What goals do you have for the new year? How are you generating your motivation?