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“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single (baby) step.” Laozi
Sometimes we have so much to do that we just… want to take a nap. Some goals seem so intimidating that we feel absolutely paralyzed to take any action on them. And we all know that no matter how much you plan, visualize, affirm or dream about a certain outcome, without any form of action, the goal won’t become a reality. But how to feel motivated to take action? The answer is – one (baby) step at a time.
What is motivation?
Motivation is the force within ourselves that drives us to take a certain action. It is much easier to move forward when we are inspired and motivated. But how about those times when we feel absolutely unable to even lift a finger? Wise and successful men would say that these are the moments that distinguish winners from losers. Technically speaking this is true – it is impossible to reach a goal without making a change in the physical reality. So, what is the secret of the winners, the champions – how do they manage to stay motivated all the time?
I have watched many interviews and read many books about famous and successful people and they have one thing in common. They all LOVE their jobs. Well, the exact word is not a “job”, it is more like a “mission” or a “vocation”. So, even if they are not paid, they would still do it just for the fun of it or for the LOVE of it. It is safe to make the simple conclusion that one side of motivation is to feel inspired and absolutely in love with what you do. To my mind, there are no lazy people, there are people trying to do something they don’t like. Think about all these things we do as a hobby – just the thought of it makes us feel good and unable to resist taking action. We don’t seem to get tired so much, we lose track of time and even forget to eat in comparison to working at a tedious job, counting the remaining hours to end of the workday.
But does that mean that if we do what we love, we would always be so motivated. Not necessarily. Even the most successful athletes, businessmen, doctors etc. sometimes feel lack of motivation. Does that mean that we are lazy or we no longer love our jobs? I think we can find the answer in the psychology of human behavior. The other side of the coin is the fact that we are creatures of the habit. This is the natural way of saving precious energy. Motivation and willpower consume a lot of energy and if we always rely on then to take action, someday we would definitely feel physically and emotionally drained. Thus unable and unwilling to do what we need to do. So, the key is to turn those important activities into habits. In this way, we won’t have to force ourselves every time to work; we would do it automatically without any resistance.
This was the good news. The bad news is that forming a habit can be a little… OK, let’s say it A LOT difficult. Yes, we have all made New Year resolutions to change ourselves for the better in the next year, but the truth is that most of us cannot keep our promises even for a couple of days. The success rate of the New Year’s resolutions is the discouraging 8% *.
Well, I am not here to discourage you.
The easiest way to form a new positive habit… so far
The problem with forming a new habit comes from the drastic change we want to make in our behavior. Just like the time when we learned how to walk, we did it one little baby step at a time. Babies make one step and then they fall down on their tiny bums. Then again, they make one or two steps and fall back down, until one day they simply get up and start walking naturally. If we have never worked out, the chances are that it would be extremely difficult to start practicing an hour at the gym “from Monday” or “from New Year”. It is like the little baby decides that from tomorrow it will start running. It would be quite hard to achieve. To build the neurological pathway of the habit, we need to start small and keep up until the behavior becomes our second nature and we are able to do it without thinking or forcing ourselves.
The simplest way to form a new positive habit I have come across so far is the Mini Habits technique developed by Stephen Guise.
The essence of this technique, described in the book, is that you set a stupidly easy little habit that you commit to doing every day. You can do more if you feel inspired to, but it is advisable not to push yourself. The goal is to do something very little in order to feel as less resistance as possible. This way the goal is much easier to achieve.
For example, you want to start meditating everyday. But even the thought of doing it for twenty minutes a day sounds overwhelming. So, to build this habit slowly and gradually, we can start with meditating just one minute a day, whatever feels easy and simple for you. When you start to feel that it is becoming a habit (you do it automatically or you feel the need to meditate without forcing yourself), you can slowly increase the minutes. And one day you will see that meditating for twenty minutes is a piece of cake and it has become a part of your natural behavior.
A little help from EFT
I can’t hide that I am a big fan of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). If you are not familiar with the technique, you can start here.
As I previously mentioned, forming a new habit creates resistance from our old behavior. Our first goal is to dissolve this resistance and the path to the new habit will be much smoother. So, how can EFT help? It is very simple. Following the example of the meditation, the basic recipe will look something like this:
Karate chop point : Even though I feel all this resistance to meditating, I deeply and completely love and accept myself. (3 times)
Eyebrow point: All this resistance to meditating.
Outside of the eye: I release all resistance to change.
Under the eye: Because I want to change.
Under the nose: I choose to meditate everyday.
Chin point: I choose to feel good meditating.
Collarbone point : I choose to release all this resistance to meditation.
Under the arm: I choose to release all negative habits and form new empowering ones.
Top of the head: I choose to form the habit of meditating everyday.
As you already know, these are just sample statements and you can change them as you like and use your own words. You can also do as many rounds as you feel like and as many times a day as you prefer. Every time you feel this resistance to change your behavior, you can make a quick tapping session to help you out.
Here is a very good one from my favorite Brad Yates:
Don’t underestimate the power of the baby steps! They might change your world for good!
* Source: University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology, Research Date: 1.1.2014