You know you should, but you just don’t. Perhaps for you that means you know you should lose weight, reign in your spending, give up the junk food, or change some other aspect of your lifestyle. Why can’t you do what you know you should? How can you find the healthy motivation to make the changes you know would help you be healthier, happier, or more successful?
Acting on what you know you should do doesn’t often work very well. Should usually implies that someone else thinks you should do or not do something. It’s usually an external motivation. It may create some change for a period of time; you may exercise more frequently if your work offers a financial incentive to do so, for example. But as soon as that external motivation ends, you’ll most likely revert to the habits you had previously.
You may agree with what you should do, but you can’t seem to find the internal motivation to stick with any changes. In our most recent reader survey a number of you spoke of the frustration between what you know you should do and what you actually do:
- “I need to motivate myself to exercise and lose weight.”
- “I’m frustrated by my inability to make health changes that would make me healthier. I want to, but I can’t find a way to move forward.”
- “Not doing the things I want and should really bothers me.”
- “I have 7 chronic diseases and I must figure out why I keep trying to kill myself with food!”
That sounds kind of like Paul: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15)
You need to find some internal healthy motivation that can sustain you through the difficult process of change. You need to find a big enough WHY.
Finding Your WHY
So how do you find that WHY? Here are some things to think about.
- What do you REALLY Want? Negative motivation – such as knowing your unhealthy habits may result in health problems now or in the future – only goes so far, and usually isn’t strong enough to push you to make a big change. A positive motivation – such as gaining the healthy body you really want, being the right kind of role model for your children, or having the stamina to accomplish a significant goal – is likely to last longer. What benefit do you hope to achieve by overcoming an addiction, losing the weight you need to, or making another major lifestyle change?
- Look Outside Yourself. It’s possible but very difficult to make a major change in your lifestyle on your own. A couple I know well took some extraordinary steps and each lost over 100 pounds – in order to be healthy enough to really enjoy their children as they grew up. Others close to you can provide encouragement and accountability, and help you celebrate small milestones along the way. And sometimes you need professional help in addition; don’t hesitate to ask if you need to.
- Tap into God’s Strength. The life that God makes available to you, and calls you to, involves living Fully Alive – as healthy as possible – in every dimension of your being. He loves you just as you are, and He also loves you enough to work with you to become the best version of you that you can possibly be. Bring Him into all the little decisions you make every day. Invite Him to join you as you go shopping, or prepare a meal. See yourself as living before an audience of One – Jesus Himself. What would you do today if you could see Him with you right now?
You aren’t likely to lose weight because your doctor told you that you should, or because your spouse is nagging you about it. You probably won’t change your eating habits because you hear about some research showing people who eat more sugar die sooner.
But you might find the motivation to quit smoking if, like my husband Al, you want to stay alive to enjoy life with your spouse as long as possible. You might go through the difficult process of change if you want to feel really strong and healthy most of the time, or you want to become the best advertisement for the kingdom of God that you can.
Find your Big Enough WHY. That’s the only way you’ll stick with a change long enough to make a difference.
Your Turn: What do you REALLY want? What’s your Big Enough WHY? Leave a comment below.
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