Get Set, Get Started!
There is a model of change that is applicable to almost all self-improvement pursuits. It’s called Prochaska’s Transtheoretical model. The first three of the stages of this model are all about getting started.
In your situation, if you are looking to motivate yourself to overcome procrastination, or to do what it takes to become more productive, or to manage your weight, or more successful, then these stages apply to you.
If you have been more productive before but have gotten into a rut and find yourself unproductive, lazy, and regularly failing to meet your deadlines for example, or you procrastinate, then you could be said to be in a relapse stage and, therefore, motivationally speaking, you’re in one of these stages.
Without going into a lot of psychology, I’m just going to list these 3 stages and I want you to decide for yourself where you fall. Briefly, here they are:
Pre-Contemplation: This is when you’re not motivated, or you procrastinate, or you are operating at less than peak productivity; BUT, you are not thinking about it, and you really don’t see why you should be;
Contemplation: This is when you’re thinking about changing (to get things done to improve your life, to make changes in your lifestyle, etc), BUT you are not quite ready to get around to doing it yet;
Preparation: You’ve thought about doing something to change your life, you’ve decided, and you’re making arrangements as you read this – you’re just about to start, honestly!
Let’s now look in greater detail what these stages mean for you so that you can get a clearer picture where you are at:
If you’re at the Pre-contemplation stage, you don’t really want to change. Others might have said you should, or you may have read something about why drive, self-motivation, time management, self-discipline, etc is supposed to be good for you, but deep down, you’re not convinced. As far as you’re concerned, there’s nothing wrong with your life exactly as is.
If this sounds like you, I invite you to take a candid look at your life. Are you truly happy with how things are? Look back over where you are now compared to where you were ten years ago. If the same trend continued for another ten years, would you honestly be happy with where you end up?
If so, congratulations! You’re the only person who knows what’s right for you, and no-one, including me, can tell you how you should feel about it. But I’m sure, if you have read this far, that there are things about your life that could be better. Let yourself think about them. What’s not exactly the way you want it?
What would your life look like if it was the way you wanted it? What would you feel like?
You don’t have to do anything right now to change – just let yourself think about what could be better.
If you are at this stage, you know you want to make a change, and you’re thinking about what your life might be like if you make the change. You’re not quite ready yet though, and that’s OK. Instead of beating yourself up for not having started yet to make the changes in your life that you know you need to make, take a deep breath and give yourself a chance to really explore…
… Why you want to stop procrastinating, or to become more productive, or to get rich, etc. By now you know what you want out of life from an exercise you did earlier, no?
What exactly do you want? To become richer? More productive? A better writer? A better parent? A better student? Do you want to be fit… and lose those excess pounds? By now you know…
Why do you want it? What difference will it make in your life? These are questions that will help to make it easier to stay motivated in future.
Think about how you could turn what you want into a specific, measurable goal. Ensure that the goal is big enough to inspire you, but realistic enough that you don’t believe it’s doomed to failure from the beginning. If you have a really big goal, for example to make a million dollars this year, or to start a small business, think about breaking it down into a series of smaller goals.
Once you’re sure you’re crystal clear on why you want to achieve this goal, you’ll find yourself moving naturally into the next stage. Your “why” will drive you to thinking about the “how”.
Remember what we said that where your focus goes your energy flows?
At this stage, you’ve decided that the need for change is stronger than the need to stay the same, and you’ve started thinking about how to make it happen. You might have drawn up a new schedule of work, or you have started training to acquire new skills, you are looking for a new job, etc.
If you’re at the preparation stage, then it’s time to start exploring how you’re going to make the changes that will transform your life. But remember that the quickest way to kill your new-found motivation is to engage the highest gear and expect to break away from your old self by sheer force of willpower.
It’s like exercise. If you’ve been out of shape for some time, you have to ease into the heavy routines…
There you go…
Willpower is a strong factor when you decide to change old habits, but you need to establish a routine that is achievable, that suits your personality and temperament; one that does not abruptly strip away all your old conveniences, pleasures, and perks you are used to – and hopefully one that you find enjoyable…