How to motivate yourself to change
Struggling to change in the ways we want to is a common human experience. Many of the practical steps required aren’t easy or fun. This makes motivation a challenge. No matter our excuses – not enough time, not enough energy, not enough money – we often say to ourselves that ‘it’s too hard’, ‘I can’t be bothered’ or ‘I’m just not that motivated.’
How can we find more motivation to make positive changes in our lives? There are so many books out there meant to help you take the necessary steps toward achieving change – to become more organised, say, or more confident, or more ambitious, or to eat more healthily. They tell you what you need to do to enact change, and that’s great if you’re ready to commit to it. But what if your problem isn’t so much that you don’t know what to do; rather that, for whatever reason, you can’t even get yourself started. Perhaps you don’t feel confident in your ability to complete all the recommended steps towards change? Maybe the potential benefit of the change doesn’t seem all that important right now and you just keep putting things off? Or what if there are so many changes you’d like to make that you just don’t know where to start?
‘Motivational interviewing’ (MI) is a counselling approach developed by the clinical psychologists William R Miller and Stephen Rollnick. It’s all about emphasising change from within the client. MI practitioners use their counselling skills, such as open-ended questions and ways to reflect, to evoke what’s called change talk – a conversation about what clients are unhappy about and how they’d like to change. Through an accepting, collaborative and guiding style, this approach seeks to strengthen the person’s commitment to goals they identify for themselves. The emphasis is on a person’s own choices and own reasons for change. Though MI practitioners such as ourselves might make suggestions to help guide our clients, we aren’t trying to force anyone to change or make choices we think they should make. Instead, we ask our clients questions, and reflect back to them what we’re hearing related to their desire, ability, reasons and need for change.
Motivational interviewing recognises that motivation often changes and fluctuates day-to-day, even moment-to-moment. It also sees motivation as a multifaceted concept that involves not only being willing to change, but being ready and able. Being willing means that you recognise that something concerns you about your situation. You see a discrepancy between the reality of your life and the ideal. This might include a desire for change or a sense of need for change. For example, you might think: ‘I wish I were thinner’ or ‘I need to get out of this bad relationship.’ You might complain that your favourite jeans don’t fit anymore or that you’re tired of endless arguments with your partner. This reflects your reality. You then recognise how you wish things were: the ideal. When reality and ideal are sufficiently different, you become uncomfortable. You start thinking about change.
Readiness indicates that you not only recognise a need for change but see this need as a priority amid all the other competing priorities in life. Finally, being able refers to having confidence in your ability to change, and being in possession of the necessary knowledge and skills to make the change.
Crucially, you don’t have to see a counsellor or a therapist to benefit from the principles of motivational interviewing. In due course, you might find it helpful to see a therapist to overcome specific obstacles, work through problems or develop new skills, but in the meantime you can ‘interview’ yourself, to help identify your goals, build your motivation and make plans for change. In this Guide, we’ll show you various exercises to do this. The truth is, there’s no magic bullet we can give you. Expecting to be 100 per cent ready, willing and able isn’t realistic. But by using strategies found in MI, we hope you can get close enough to make the necessary efforts to begin enacting change, step by step.
Read or Listen to Something Inspirational
Do you have a favorite podcast or YouTube Channel ( Here are my favorite channels ) that inspires and encourages you? Then tune into those when you are needing an extra dose of motivation. I usually find this does the trick and I can get started on what I need to do.
I think having the right mindset is one of the most foundational things in being productive and staying motivated. This has been found true for me so many times in my own life. Even in the past week.
The days that I’m most productive and happy are the days that I refuse to let the negative thoughts take over. I’ll start thinking things like “I don’t have the energy to do that today,” or “I don’t feel up to it and I have way too much other stuff going on.
It may sound a little silly, but I encourage you to try for a while. It takes practice, but I’m confident you’ll soon see the difference it makes when you keep your thoughts positive.
7. Look At The Big Picture
In the end, why do any of us need to find motivation for work? You may go into work on any given day to answer to your boss, try to get a raise, or finish a project you’ve been working hard on. But don’t forget to look at the big picture. Most of us have a centering inspiration that spurs us back to work each day. For some people, it may be providing for a family. For others, it could be the dream of doing something they love, such as writing, teaching or photography. Others may simply be seeking self-improvement by doing something they enjoy. Whatever it is, don’t forget what the most meaningful thing to you is.
These tips will help get you get the ball rolling again, so you can gain enough motivation to maintain your momentum. And then, with that momentum, you’ll be on track to consistently bring your a-game to work everyday so you can start to make things happen.