Motivation Hacks: Increase motivation!
One of the chief things our hypnosis clients want and need are ways to increase motivation. Whether that’s to release weight, stop smoking, stick to a new sleeping routine, or any of a number of goals a person can have, keeping that motivation strong and keeping yourself from being derailed is one of the universal issues in goal achievement. In working with the subconscious mind using hypnosis, we focus on uncovering and removing subconscious blocks, which could stem from imprints from the past or conflicting values. We also work to make the new, desired way of being more familiar, which keeps the subconscious from trying to avoid something new.
Have you seen the movie The Croods? “Don’t touch it, it’s new!” “They discovered something new, and died!” LOL! Seems funny to our conscious minds (“that’s ridiculous”) but that is really the way our subconscious works. The bias of the subconscious is and always will be to return to the familiar. So, here we’ll discuss some ways to increase motivation and decrease the tendency of the subconscious to return, like water, to the easiest path.
This article is about using your conscious mind, your awareness, to increase motivation. This helps to create a partnership between your conscious and subconscious minds. Milton Erickson, the father of modern hypnotherapy, said that everyone’s problems stems from a mind that is “out of rapport with itself,” meaning that you consciously want one thing but your subconscious mind wants another (usually to stay the same which equals safe). Which underscores the need to remain aware and willing to take conscious steps to continually reinforce the emotional desirability of the change state to your subconscious. If you give in to, for example, the “what the hell effect,” then you lose credibility with yourself—with your subconscious mind.
The motivation hacks discussed below address the common causes of backsliding. All change begins with awareness, so become aware of your own behavior in these areas and take action to reinforce what you want and increase motivation. “Be the change” you want to see in your own life, as well as in the world.
Use this information along with your self hypnosis to supercharge and bullet-proof your ability to increase motivation and achieve your goals!
Avoid the what the hell effect. It’s mid-afternoon. You’ve done great in making healthy choices all day but in a moment of weakness and without thinking, you have an unhealthy snack. Ashamed and frustrated, you think “What the hell, the day is ruined, may as well go ahead and eat whatever I want now.” How to avoid this? Avoid thinking short term. This negative effect usually kicks in when the goal is positioned in the mind as a short term goal (e.g., you’re focusing on the diet, on losing 10 pounds, on the day…rather than focusing on being healthier for the rest of your life.)
Recent research by Janet Polivy and colleagues at the University of Toronto is a good example (Polivy et al., 2010). They invited participants to a study, some who were dieting and others who weren’t. They were all told not to eat beforehand and then served exactly the same slice of pizza when they arrived, then asked to taste and rate some cookies.
Except the experimenters didn’t much care how the cookies were rated, just how many cookies they ate. That’s because they’d carried out a little trick. Although everyone was given the same slice of pizza; when it was served up, for some participants it was made to look larger by comparison. This made some people think they’d eaten more than they really had; although in reality they’d all eaten exactly the same amount. It’s a clever manipulation and it means we can just see the effect of thinking you’ve eaten too much rather than actually having eaten too much.
When the cookies were weighed it turned out that those who were on a diet and thought they’d blown their limit ate more of the cookies than those who weren’t on a diet. In fact over 50% more! On the other hand, when dieters thought they were safely within their limit, they ate the same amount of cookies as those who weren’t on a diet. This is the what-the-hell effect in action.
Short term, “inhibitional” goals are likely to succumb to the what the hell effect. Inhibitional means you’re working to not do something (eat that Twinkie, have that second glass of wine, etc.). Goals that are not susceptible to this are long term and “acquisitional”—meaning that you’re looking to be or achieve something rather than just avoid something for awhile. So, this stumbling block to increase motivation can be avoided by reframing your goal. It’s not what you’re “trying not to do” today. It’s about who and how you want to be long term.
Defeat Procrastination to increase motivation. We’ve talked about procrastination before. Procrastination can stem from a less-than-complete belief that the goal is worth the effort. So one step to take on the front end is to really work through exercises to determine that the goal is worthy of your effort. Remember, just about any significant goal you want to achieve is going to require some kind of sacrifice. Time at the gym may mean less time with family or a favorite hobby. Saving up to start that business may mean a tighter budget today. Only you, with your unique values, can determine if a future achievement is worth the sacrifice today. This underscores the fact that you must be working toward your goal for yourself, not for anyone else. That’s why quitting smoking for a loved one tends to be much less successful than quitting for yourself, and that goes for any type of goal. Don’t do something because you feel pressure from family, work, or society. Do it for you.
If you find yourself procrastinating, do some values work. Is the goal in alignment with ALL of your primary values? I worked with a client years ago who wanted to become a motivational speaker on the national level. She had the message and the skills and she had already become a member of the National Speaker’s Bureau. But then she started missing deadlines, and not being available to answer her phone, and missing out on speaking opportunities. The work we did uncovered a conflict in values. She still had younger children and had a powerful value to be there for them. Becoming a well known speaker would mean leaving them, often at the last minute and for a few days at a time, and with increasing frequency, in order to establish herself. This didn’t set well with her subconscious so she found herself forgetting to respond to emails, etc. Once she became aware of this internal conflict, she was able to create a plan to move forward in a way that honored ALL of her values, and was once again able to achieve her goals.
Lay the tracks to move the train and you’ll increase motivation long term. As we discussed before, one of the precursors to procrastination (oooh, ‘precursors to procrastination,’ that’s kind of poetic!) is having not programmed your mind with the exact, detailed steps of how you’re going to achieve the goal. When your mind runs up against that “unknown,” it just shuts down. It doesn’t know how to proceed so it goes back to what it knows and is comfortable with. This is procrastination. So if you become aware of your tendency to procrastinate, take some time to 1) make sure you’re really doing it for yourself and you totally consider the time, energy and effort to be worth it, and 2) work out a detailed plan, step by step, for how to achieve the goal.
Learn to shift focus. If, while you were walking or jogging, you kept your eyes focused on your feet, what would happen? You’d end up off your path, and maybe even run into an obstacle. When we work toward a goal, we have to learn to shift our focus between tasks (right now, I’m writing this article) and the long term goal-the reason for the task (I want to reach more people). Michael Gerber calls attention to this in his book The E-Myth (or the updated The E-Myth Revisited). In that book, Gerber explains that many small businesses fail because the business owner can’t make the switch (and often isn’t aware that there is a switch to be made) between technician and business owner; so they get bogged down focusing on the tasks that they’re good at (familiar and comfortable) and lose focus on steering their business into the future (which requires learning new skills and even becoming a different kind of person). So, remember to spend time focusing on doing your goal-related tasks well, and then spend time (just before you go to sleep at night is especially good) thinking, planning, and journaling about the goal, why it’s important to you and the steps ahead of you. That’s the balance you need to keep moving forward.
Don’t censor your motivational fire. One thing people do in order to conform to societal norms (which is a powerful subconscious drive) is censor their motivation to make it more “PC.” It feels weird to admit, even to yourself, that you’re losing weight to get the attention of the opposite sex if you’re married, for example. Or that you’re achieving that millionaire status to rub it in your brother’s face, or ex-husband’s, or that kid that beat you up in 5th grade. Whatever. If there is an underlying motivation for your goal that feels “wrong” somehow, honor it, and just keep it to yourself. I knew a football player once who was having problems with his motivation. It came out that his true motivation to be a football hero was to shove it in his Dad’s face, because his Dad had ridiculed him and told him he would always be a nobody. He had honored that motivation at first, but then somewhere along the line had picked up the idea that this was inappropriate and so he was suppressing it. And as soon as he started suppressing it, he no longer had the motivation to make the sacrifices to continue to improve and excel. Once we reframed this and he understood that it was OK to have that private motivation-that it didn’t make him a bad person and that he was acting on it in a positive way-then he was once again able to increase motivation and had the drive to put in the hours of personal practice and the excitement on the field to be the best once again.
Plan for obstacles. In his excellent book Goals!, Brian Tracy discusses one of the chief reasons people don’t achieve their goals is that they fail to plan for obstacles. Most people don’t even imagine that things will happen (it’s just life) that will derail you. That flu that takes you off your exercise routine, or the family emergency that forces you to put your plan to open your own business/go back to school/get a new job, etc… on hold. The difference is in whether these are conceived of as temporary setbacks or permanent ones. So, when you create that detailed, step by step plan to achieve your goal, imagine yourself running into a snag and see yourself working through whatever that is and how you’re going to sideline your project but keep it alive, or keep working on it to a minimal degree and most importantly envision how you’re going to get back on track once the issue that sidetracked you is resolved or stabilized.
As an example, I have a fairly new goal of writing a new article (like this one!) at least three days a week. I write in the mornings; it’s just when I am most creative in that way. This past weekend I knew I wouldn’t be able to write since I was going to a retreat for our students with the Midwest Hypnotherapy Academy. So in my mind I saw myself taking a couple of days off and future paced myself to see me writing this article, bright and early Monday morning. I felt all the good feelings of that and this morning my first desire (well, after a cup of coffee!) was to get going on this article. This regular article writing is a fairly new goal – I’ve only been doing this about a week and a half – so it’s in a delicate phase. Writing in the morning is not YET a habit. So it’s super important that I apply all of these tips to increase motivation to achieve this writing goal!
OK, that’s it on how to increase motivation for now! Please put these tips to use in your life (and if you didn’t see the first article on how to increase motivation you can find it here). Let me know in the comments below how it’s going.