It’s the end of January – has your motivation for your New Year’s resolutions started to dwindle yet?
If so, this post is for you.
If not, just wait – that moment is coming. It always does. And so this post is also for you.
I’m going to teach you what to do when motivation wanes (or dies completely) in order to keep your new habit alive, sustaining it for the long run.
The very nature of motivation is that it comes and goes. It waxes and it wanes. It ebbs and flows. It will be low to non-existent one moment and then back in full force not long after.
You know this from experience. Think back to any behavior you’ve changed or habit that you’ve started or stopped. There are moments when you’re very motivated and it propels you forward in the direction you want to go. You’re in a state of energy and flow and progress.
And then there are times when you can’t find a morsel of motivation anywhere and it takes the wind right out of your sails. It’s like you’re walking with concrete blocks on your feet. It’s hard, arduous and it feels like you’re pushing a boulder up a mountain.
If we rely on motivation alone to sustain a behavior, then that behavior will not last.
So what do we rely on to keep a behavior going over time?
In his new book, Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything, BJ Fogg teaches us exactly what to do in order to sustain a new habit or behavior.
(He and I discuss this in a recent podcast episode which came out a couple of weeks ago. If you haven’t listened to it yet, I encourage you to check it out when you have a moment. You can listen here or in your podcast player.)
BJ Fogg says, “A behavior happens when the elements of MAP (motivation — your desire to do the behavior; ability — your capacity to do the behavior; and prompt — a cue to do the behavior) come together at the same moment.”
He goes on to say, “…motivation and ability can work together like teammates. If one is weak, the other needs to be strong to get you [to take action]. In other words: The amount you have of one affects the amount you need of the other.”
This means that when your motivation is low, you need to make the behavior far easier to do.
The foolproof way to do this is to scale it way back and make the behavior tiny.
Remember, your goal is to keep the habit alive. If you do the behavior at all, you get an A+.
An example from his book: If your New Year’s resolution is to floss your teeth every day, then you have succeeded whether you floss all of your teeth or one tooth.
On days when your motivation is high, you might floss twice. On days when your motivation is nil, scale it way back, make it radically tiny and floss one tooth.
Your motivation will return and then you can floss all of your teeth three times a day if you want to. But on days when you just aren’t feeling the drive to do it at all, make the behavior tiny, floss one tooth and mark it down as a win.
So, here’s the question you need to consider:
How can you make your new habit or behavior radically tiny so that you can ride out the days when motivation is low, still doing the thing you’ve set out to do, thereby keeping the habit alive?
It’s a question worth thinking about because another principle of behavior change is to separate decision from action. Decide now what you’ll do on days when it feels really hard so that you don’t have to think about it in the moment when you are struggling for will power.
There are 2 other ways to make a behavior easy to do, according to BJ Fogg:
- Increase your skills
- Get tools and resources
One way to address each of these factors is to work with someone to level up your skills and add to your list of available tools and resources.
Through weekly calls and daily email communication, I teach my clients how to apply the science of behavior change to their specific goals based on their unique life circumstances, ensuring their long term success.
To find out if the program is a fit for you, I offer a free 30-minute Personal Transformation Coaching Session. You can book your call by clicking here.
On this call, you will tell me about the changes you’re looking to make and I will offer you my thoughts on how you might go about doing this. If we’re a match to work together, that will be clear and I never pressure people on these calls. If the program is not right for you, we part as friends and you will have my ideas to consider as you move forward towards your goals.
I am going to be making some changes to how I work with private clients starting next month, so if you’re interested in The One You Feed Personal Transformation Program, go ahead and book a call with me.
As BJ Fogg says, “If you’ve attempted change in the past and haven’t seen results, you may have concluded that change is hard or that you stink at it. Neither is accurate. The problem is with the approach itself, not with you.”
Change your approach and you’ll change your results.
Wishing you well,