Focus on What You Want from Life

Life Balance

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Focus on What You Want from Life

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Focus on What You Want from LifeThis month's theme is motivation. How do you motivate yourself to pursue what you want from life? How do you maintain that motivation with your fitness, your finances, and your relationships?

We'll talk more about this in the posts to come, but today I want to emphasize keeping a positive focus on what you want. I hope you'll see that it's not about what you HAVE to do that's hard (things like dieting and living within a budget), but about what you -- YOU -- deeply want from life. 

Get a Big Enough WHAT . . .

Too many of us look at the negatives -- the have-to's and should-do's that plague us. "I have to go on a diet," we say. "I need to stick to a budget."

At some level, of course, these hard realities are true. If your nutrition hasn't been good, you do need to change it. If your finances are out of whack, then a good budget will work wonders for you. 

But it often doesn't work to focus on the hard things we have to do. We resist these things, because we perceive them as negatives that we don't want. So while your rational brain (your frontal lobe) is saying rational things about needing to improve your diet, your habitual brain (your cerebellum) is saying "I don't want this!" And your habitual brain usually wins.

The answer is to focus on the big exciting things you DO want. Try it:

  • "I want to be healthy."
  • "I want to be financially secure."

It may seem like a small shift from the small-picture HOW to the big-picture WHAT. But since it's also a shift from negatives we resist to positives we can embrace, it carries huge potential.

. . . And a Big Enough WHY

Modern psychological research has shown the importance of intrinsic motivation for human achievement. If our reason WHY to do something comes from outside ourselves, that doesn't motivate us as much as when the WHY comes from inside us.

To put it another way, if the Joneses want you to keep up with them, at some point you'll decide that they're not worth the effort. But if YOU care about keeping up with the Joneses, you'll go to great lengths to do it, even if the Joneses don't care which of you has the nicer house or the fancier cars.

To harness this phenomenon, you need to dig down inside yourself to find out why you're doing what you do today -- and why you want the changes you'd like to have for tomorrow. Again, keep the focus on the positive. You should come up with emotionally compelling reasons like this:

  • "I want to be healthy so I can be around to play with my grandkids."
  • "I want to be financially secure so I can travel the world with my spouse."

Don't limit yourself to one or two reasons, either. You might want to be healthier, for example, so you can be around to play with your grandkids AND so you can fit back into your high school uniform AND so you can be attractive to the opposite sex AND because you've always wanted to run a marathon.

Redefine Success

Success doesn't mean getting everything you want from life, and it certainly doesn't mean getting it all quickly. But one definition of success is that you have the freedom to go after what you want in life.

If you're focused on how much it sucks to go on a diet, or how painful the process of budgeting is going to be -- things you don't want -- you're not likely to get very far. But if you'll stoke your intrinsic motivation with big enough, compelling enough WHYs, you'll start to pursue those better habits as a way of getting what you do want. That is success in action, even before you attain the goals you've set out for yourself.

Think it over: WHAT do you want? And WHY do you want it?


Tim Walker, Life Balance Blogger CareOne Debt Relief Services Tim Walker

Tim is a writer, marketer, and social media pro living in Austin. He joined CareOne's blogging team as a contributing writer for the Life Balance blog in 2009. As a blogger who has personally overcome debt challenges, he draws from his own experience to provide tips on living a balanced life and keeping fit. You can read more of his thoughts (on fitness and everything else) at his personal blog, What I've Learned So Far. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

Follow Tim on Twitter; @Twalk or follow us by clicking here!

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