Living your Maximum Life is about motivation, maximum performance and a balanced lifestyle, but more importantly, there is a recognition that every person is unique, and a pioneer of their own life path.

My aim is to help readers define their Life Footprint and start living a Purpose Driven life. This means taking hold of the steering wheel and Living Deliberately. One warning though - Reading these essays could be life changing!

Monday, 15 August 2011

What Moves You?

Motivation, it’s all about what get’s you from taking up space to doing whatever is required, or put differently – what gets you moving. The truth is that there are only two major forces that inspire us, even though there are many different components to these. The first is the tendency to seek out what we find pleasurable, or the “pleasure motive”, and the second is the tendency to avoid anything that causes us pain, or the “pain motive”.

The question with all of us is how strong either motive has to be to get us going. You might be surprised to find that most of us have such a resistance to change, that we usually have to become really uncomfortable before we start moving away from pain. It’s the old story of throwing a frog in boiling water – it will immediately jump out, but if you put it in cold water and gradually heat it up, it will boil to death and not get out. Pleasure is a much more interesting dynamic, but hardly ever as compelling as pain. Pleasure is not as universal as pain, meaning that we can generally agree on what we experience as pain, but when we talk about what we find pleasing, it varies greatly (take taste in music, pastimes, art, sexual preferences, etc.). Even more interesting is the reasons (motivations) people have for buying things – security, safety, image, performance, cost, etc.

The important thing is that we should embrace the negative pressures. I am not saying adopt a boiling frog attitude, but acknowledge early on that the pain is going to increase to the point that you can no longer stand it, and get moving sooner rather than later. The sooner you do, the less negative impact there is likely to be on your life. Likewise, know what pleasure stimuli you tend to seek out, as these will guide the direction in which you get moving.

You should also know that any positive change happens in an instant; there is no such thing as quitting smoking gradually or starting exercise over a period of months. You can only be a beginner once, the first time you try something, every time thereafter you are on the intermediate level until you become an expert. You stop smoking the moment that you are motivated never to pick up another cigarette, you start exercising the day you walk into gym (despite the fact that you may want to start with low intensity and build on your programme gradually). All change is instantaneous, and motivation is what overcomes the resistance to change.

If you have something you wish to change, get a piece of paper and make the following lists; 1. Why have I been doing what I want to change (reinforces negative behaviour)? 2. What stops me from changing it (obstacles to changing it)? 3. Why should I adopt the new behaviour (reinforces the positive behaviour)? 4. What prevents me from adopting the new behaviour (obstacles to getting started)? Done? Well, you should be a step closer to getting started – remember you’re the one who made the lists, so you know that you should make the change already.

Next you’ll need a good friend to help you – note that it must be a good friend who can be honest with you and tell you the truth without you taking offense. Let’s say you want to get in shape for the sake of your health. Research your list above, get a good idea of what you want to look like, take a picture of yourself (obese and unfit). Put both these pictures on your fridge so that you can regularly have a clear picture of what you’re moving away from and toward.

Invite your friend over and ask his/her help. Explain your goal and what you’ll do to achieve it (gym, diet, etc.) in detail. Set up regular follow up in which your friend asks how it went (weekly or more often if possible, can be done telephonically). You undertake to be totally honest and if you failed tell him; “I’m a fat slob because I did not go to gym twice this week, had three doughnuts, etc.” He then scolds you before getting you to reaffirm your commitment until the next time, and then tells you; “you have only failed if you give up on your dream, you are a winner, now go for it!” Embarrassing? Yes, and it is the old carrot and stick approach, but you have to make failure so unpleasant that the only option is reaching for that desired reward.

Pretty soon you'll associate the negative reinforcement with any failure (provided that it happens immediately, ideally you should phone your friend directly after failing) and the goal itself will become more compelling as you start moving closer to achieving it. Also, after following the new behaviour pattern for a month to three months, it will become habitual, and be hard to break. If you do fail, don't give up, but get back on track immediately.

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