How to Get Motivated to Make a Lifestyle Change?

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This was taken last fall while out for a brisk morning walk. I’ve lost almost 30 pounds since then. I know the walking has helped keep me motivated.

Over the past few years I’ve been making an effort to create meaningful lifestyle changes; exercise more, eat healthy on a consistent basis, and save more money by learning to invest.

However, it has not been a complete breeze. I’ve learned that making lasting lifestyle changes requires a ton of motivation with consistent check-ins with yourself and course corrections when needed.

So how do you get motivated to make a lifestyle change? It all starts in the mind; you have to change your attitude, take ownership of your life, erase excuses, do what it takes, and accept the consequences.

Motivation is like a puzzle, and it is essential to understand how the pieces fit together to get the complete perspective. To remain motivated to make those lifestyle changes, it helps to understand the principles of motivation, how to break the downward spiral, and of course some tips and strategies that’ve been proven to help us stay motivated.

Principles of Motivation

Before we start on any life changing journey, it’s important to understand the basic principles of motivation, and how it all works.

It Starts With Our Attitude

The key to getting the motivation to make lifestyle changes is our attitude. Our perspective on success and the steps we take to deal with failure will determine whether or not we successfully make the lifestyle changes we want.

We all view the world through our own unique lenses, which can be either positive or negative. When it comes to the best attitude for staying motivated it is important to focus on the positive and have a “can do” attitude.

Take Ownership

It is essential to understand your life is squarely in your hands. Therefore, no one else can make you feel sad, happy, or motivated.

Only you determine if you will successfully make the lifestyle changes or not. Your current situation is because of your action or inaction.

Assuming ownership of your life gives you a sense of power that enables you to make the lifestyle changes you want. Once you take ownership of your life, you will are a step closer to achieving your goals.

No Excuses

Erase all doubts and excuses in your mind. To get the motivation you need to make lifestyle changes; it is important to believe in yourself and your potential. Each little win will increase your motivation.

Stop telling yourself the things you cannot do because that is self-defeatist. Get out of your way to do what it takes to achieve your goals, despite the challenges.

Take Action

Move forward and start making the lifestyle changes you need. Consider getting out there, network, and learn the ropes of the trade.

Remain Committed

Commit to making the lifestyle changes you need. Remain committed to the course even when you face challenges.

Anything worthwhile will come with its fair share of challenges. You need to see the challenges as opportunities to reaffirm your commitment to your goals.

Do the Work

Staying motivated requires consistency to do the work and take the necessary steps to make lifestyle changes. Making a change in your lifestyle is not easy and may take some time to achieve.

Take some time during the day to work on the lifestyle changes you need to make. Work on achieving your goals every day of your life. Over time, the work becomes habit. Once a habit, it feels less like work. I love that!

Accept the Consequences

Take actions and accept responsibility for your actions. This is a crucial step in empowering yourself and remaining motivated.

Remember, you are the owner of your life and your current situation. To remain motivated:

  • Take responsibility for your mistakes
  • Accept the consequences
  • Learn from your mistakes
  • Move on

Types of Motivation

Gaining a better understanding of the types of motivation can help us better make lifestyle changes by improving our self-esteem and confidence. When we feel confident and independent we are more likely to make the lifestyle changes we need.

Intrinsic motivation and the right external factors can enhance our independence. Let’s take a closer look at what those are.

Intrinsic Motivation

This type of motivation occurs when an individual has a genuine interest in what they are doing. For instance, if you enjoy playing chess and your motivation comes from the fact that you enjoy playing the game and not the prize, then you are intrinsically motivated.

A considerable advantage of intrinsic motivation is it improves creativity and learning. In addition, it fosters a sense of independence because we act on our own and have a genuine interest in the activity.

Many people are intrinsically motivated by their hobbies. Unlike school or office work, many people have a genuine interest in their hobbies and often enjoy them.

External Regulation or Extrinsic Motivation

External influences can also motivate us and we are often motivated to do certain actions in expectation of an external reward.

For instance, if a person enters a race, hoping to win some money, they are driven by the desire to obtain the reward and not because they find the race interesting.

Parents, teachers and school counselors often use external regulation to motivate children to perform specific actions that they may not necessarily find interesting. The children comply because they want the reward.

There are also many examples of extrinsic motivation in the workplace. I’m sure you can think of some. Bonuses for reaching certain, milestones, etc.

Introjected Regulation

This is motivation from an internal voice pressuring you to act in specific ways. The source of motivation could be worry, shame, or guilt.

This type of motivation inspires us to act in specific ways not because we want to, but because we are afraid of the consequences of inaction due to some sense of obligation. For instance, some people go to church because they are afraid of judgment by their peers, not because they enjoy attending church services.

It is important to avoid introjected regulation because it bolsters anxiety. When we are driven by this type of motivation we often don’t have positive experiences from our actions.

Identified Regulation

This type of motivation occurs when we’re able to identify the significance of certain behaviors and accepts them because they help us achieve our goals.

When we tap into identified regulation we recognize the importance of our actions towards self-development and don’t act out of fear of guilt or shame. For instance, we may choose to do cardio, not because we love cardio but because we recognize how cardio exercise supports heart health and makes use feel better.

Although identified regulation is related to external regulation, it is more self-determined, personal and intentional.

Integrated Regulation

This motivation occurs when we fully integrate specific actions within ourself. This type of motivation is based on self-assessment and assimilations of reasons behind particular actions.

Integrated regulation occurs when we assess external motivations that match our own personal beliefs and values and choose to act on them because they have both instrinsic and extrinsic benefit.

Meaning, we take the action because it is suitable for us and matches or beliefs or values, not because of the external reward.

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My gigantic 128oz water bottle with motivational time table. I love it and my body seems to love it, but boy 128oz is a ton of water!

Lifestyle Changes to Make Right Away

I hope your biggest take away from the above explanations of motivation types is that we are most successful at staying motivated when we’re able to tie our actions to something we find meaningful and/or enjoyable. There must be at least a small spark that comes from within.

This can be extremely difficult when you’re in a state of monotony or dullness in your life or if nothing is inspiring you at the moment. When this happens, it is typically due to a disconnect. Meaning the driving force for your actions is no longer coming from within.

Maybe you’ve spent too long performing a job you don’t like, or life circumstance have gotten you down. Regardless of the external reason, the only way out of the slump is to take action and do something.

Gaining or re-gaining self-motivation requires making simple lifestyle changes and taking small steps. Here are some small lifestyle changes you can start making right away.

Celebrate Small Victories

Take time to celebrate small victories in your life instead of focusing solely on significant achievements. Many people have positive instances in their lives that they often overlook or do not appreciate.

Celebrate those small victories now and then to eliminate monotony in your life. Have simple ways of celebrating those small victories and treat yourself whenever you achieve them.

Eat Healthily

The food you eat daily has a significant effect on your happiness. What you eat makes a substantial difference in your lifestyle.

Eating quality foods helps to keep you happy and refreshed throughout the day. Some foods, including oats and fruits, have mood-boosting properties.

Although it is normal to crave and eat junk food now and then, it is essential to know that foods with high quantities of fats, sugar, and salt are bad for your health and can contribute to your lack of motivation.

Exercise Regularly

Take some time off your daily activities to exercise. Engaging in exercise helps to keep your body and mind in a healthy and active state.

Dedicate at least 15 minutes every morning to exercise and warm up your body for the rest of the day. Fun workouts like zumba and HIIT can break the monotony and keep you motivated throughout the day.

Create a Manageable To-Do List

Create a shorter and manageable to-do list because you cannot possibly finish everything in one go. Be practical when planning your day so that you do not overburden yourself.

Consider cutting down on the less significant activities. In addition, complete your tasks at a manageable pace so that they do not interfere with your peace of mind.

Do What You Love

Many experts agree the key to a happy career or life is doing what you love. Pick up a hobby that you like and work on it.

Although some of your friends or family members may not be too enthusiastic about your choices, do what you love without paying much attention to the consequences. Whether it is learning to play the guitar, cooking, or writing a book, just do it.

Be Your Own Fan

Embrace yourself and believe in your positive attributes. Take some time to think about your unique qualities and appreciate them every single day.

Be happy with what you have. Know that you are a remarkable human being just the way you are.

It is up to you to recognize your worth and appreciate it. If you don’t acknowledge your positive attributes, no one else will.

Focus on Your Future

Lift yourself from past failures and focus on the future. Although failures can quickly hold you down, the possibility of making up for your mistakes in the future should hold you up.

Learn from past actions and experiences and focus on making your future better. Create an inspiring vision and have something good to look forward to.

Take a Break

Old routines can quickly become monotonous with time. In addition, responsibilities and pressure at work can quickly zap your motivation.

Take a break now and then to refresh before continuing with your daily duties. Otherwise, you may experience burnout.

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Taking a break and enjoying the outdoors on our deck with my sweet kitty Coraline.

How to Break the Downward Spiral

Even when you’re a pro at staying motivated, sometimes things just don’t go our way. For example, you could wake up, find the power is out, and that could be beginning of a bad day for you.

However, it does not have to be so. The events on their own are not so bad; it is how our mind reacts to them that make the difference between a good day and a bad one.

Although you may not control power lines in your home, you have total control over how you respond when things do not work. Staying motivated involves understanding how to manage the downward spiral and how to not let things out of our personal control knock us off track.

Facts

Many people experience the downward spiral because they jump to the worst-case conclusion. Once you see the email from your boss, your first conclusion is you are going to be fired.
Consider your close friends. They may not call all the time but you don’t immediately conclude that they do not want to be friends anymore.

To avoid the downward spiral, avoid jumping into conclusions. Get the facts right and review all possible explanations before jumping to the worse case scenario.

Let it Be

Like other people, you may want to start solving a problem as soon as you experience it. In many cases, the urge to solve the problem stems from the fact that we do not want to acknowledge our negative emotions, which only makes it worse.

Try to experience the negative moment and then let it pass; do not hold on to it. This does not mean that you become passive to your experiences, but rather interact with your emotions constructively and mindfully.

Focus on Yourself

Focus on your wellbeing and inner peace. When you face a challenge:

  • Take some time to relax and think clearly about what you are experiencing
  • Focus on your mind and body and take note of the physical discomfort that the challenge is causing you to experience
  • Identify the discomfort caused by the experience including tension, aching, or pressure on your stomach
  • Take deep breaths and determine if the physical discomfort is becoming more or less intense
  • If your mind drifts back to the immediate reaction it wants you to take such as revenge or self-flagellating, focus again on your body and sensations

Remember, these measures may not rid the negative feelings and emotions, but they will help them pass quickly.

A common problem many of us make when facing a difficult time is thinking the unhappiness will persist indefinitely. Understanding that what you are feeling is temporary will prevent you from being pulled into a downward spiral.

Find a Distraction

When you face a slump and deep lack of motivation, not only does it suck your happiness, but it also prevents you from engaging in activities that make you happy, like meeting friends and enjoying some time outside the house. However, planning and participating in an enjoyable activity or moment can break the downward spiral.

Consider finding a distraction whenever you find yourself in a slump. Even if you won’t engage in the distractive activity, just planning for it is enough to draw you out of your rut.

Exercise

Being in a slump can take away the energy you need to complete your usual workout regimen. However, exercise is an incredibly efficient stimulant for a good mood.

You do not need to do something intensive, like pumping iron at the gym for an hour. Instead, do something less intense like taking a stroll for about 20 minutes or a leisurely bike ride for about 15 minutes.

The most challenging thing you are likely to experience is planning for the exercise. However, it only takes a few seconds to put your shoes on.

Once you are outside the door, your mood and momentum will change suddenly. Consider recruiting a friend to join you on your workouts.

Take action

Saving yourself from the downward spiral is just the initial step. Once you recover from the slump, think about what you need to do and get back at it.

Use the list of lifestyle changes from this post and draw on your wisdom and experience to get back on track and take action.

You’ve got this!

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Jodie Locklear
Jodie is a former art teacher turned Graphic/UX Designer and QA Manager. She's applied her knowledge of visual design and software testing on many projects over the years, ranging from small businesses to large well known brands and organizations. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, blogging, and travel. View About Page

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