Changing Behavior

It’s that time of year where we reflect on the past year’s failures and successes and regroup and say “This is the year when I get things done.” Sadly, that motivation usually lasts for a brief amount of time, and before we know it, we fall back into our old routines. Why do we let things that we know are important and usually benefit us in the long run, fall by the wayside? In this post I am going to share my thoughts on how we can stick to our goals and stay motivated.

My brother has a saying that I think applies here. He says “ You find time to do you what you think is important.” Now I want to break this down a little. He is saying that if you find an activity important you will make time to do it. Sounds easy enough, but in practice not so. Take for example, exercise. I am sure that the majority of us think it is important to exercise. Yet, we don’t. Why? Well my brother would say that the things we did instead were more important to us. So we need to prioritize. Whenever we make a change in our lives we have to remember that we are changing our behavior. As humans we are creatures of habit. Oh sure we do good for about a month and a half but something comes up and we are right back where we started.

So what do we do? Well we need to make what we are trying to change important. The first thing I suggest is to write it down. Take some time to write down what you are trying to accomplish on a piece of paper. Then write down how doing this will benefit you. I like to write down some motivational quotes to pump me up. I then take this paper and place it somewhere I will see it multiple times a day. When I see it, it  reminds me of what I am trying to accomplish. So it’s in my head and I think about it. How many times have you gotten into bed and your head hits the pillow and you think crap! I forgot to do ….. oh well, I will do it tomorrow. Once we start putting it off we are more likely to get putting it off so don’t give in.

As we all know actions are required if we truly want to accomplish anything. When trying to change our behavior we must change what we are doing. As I stated earlier we are creatures of habit, and if we seek to change we are going to need to switch up our habits. This will take a concerted effort and I recommend you sit down and plan out your week making sure to set aside time to do your new behavior. I recommend you try to do it the same time every week or day if necessary. This way you make it a habit and most importantly don’t skip it. When that time comes,do it. If you lack motivation, take a look at that paper you created and get yourself pumped up.

Finally, remember that whatever your goals are, hard work, determination, and perseverance will lead to change. You can do great things. The only thing holding you back is yourself. There will be times when you want to cheat, or skip doing your new behavior but stick to it and you will reap the benefits.
What do you do to stay motivated? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Steve leads the Learning & Professional Development team, with over a decade of Instructional Design and professional development experience in higher education at Northern Arizona University.

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