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Maintaining Motivation

Motivation is an important piece of making changes. Change is often challenging or sometimes even unpleasant. Motivation can dry up and disappear in the face of those challenges or unpleasant experiences. The good news is that there is a reliable source of motivation!

Before I can help you identify your own reliable source of motivation, I have to talk about the differences between goals and values. Goals are things that can be accomplished and, once accomplished, are over. I might have a goal to hike the Katy Trail, for example. That has discrete starting and ending points. It has limits. Values, however, are never done. You never arrive at the value destination. A value is never a one-and-done event. A value is always something you can move toward. I may come to the end of the Katy Trail, but I’ll never reach “integrity” or “justice.” I can always move in the direction of a value. One way this idea of values is explained is in traveling. I’m in Kansas City. I can decide to go to Denver, which is west of me. I can reach Denver. That’s a goal. But if I decide to go west, I’ll never reach “west.” I can always choose to head west, which in this metaphor is a value.

When you are in a difficult place in your change process or when you are stuck, ask yourself what values underlie the change. Perhaps you have a goal of exercising several times a week and if you were a couch potato previously, this could be a difficult goal. Why have you decided to exercise? Values differ from person to person in intensity and importance. Perhaps you want to exercise because you value your good health. Perhaps you are choosing to exercise because you value your relationship with your spouse and getting fit would impress them. Perhaps you value independence and don’t want to ever find yourself relying on riding a scooter through the grocery store or on someone to help you use the bathroom when you are elderly. The values underlying changes will be unique to each person.

Once you identify the values underlying the change you are making, you will find motivation is more plentiful. That’s because values are inextricably tied in to who you are. They are the things which matter most to you. And when you focus on your values, your “whys” for doing things, the motivation, appears. The motivation is about your values but can help you accomplish goals that are based on those values. Sometimes goals can appear to be values. If you are struggling and an apparent value isn’t motivating you, examine it more closely to make sure it isn’t a goal. In the example above, a person might think physical fitness is a value and a person could argue that you can always improve your physical fitness. I see it as a goal, however, motivated by underlying values. It can be tricky and it’s possible that sometimes what I see as goals really are values for you. But if you are not finding motivation in a value, explore that. Either it’s not a true value, and instead is something you feel you “should” value, or it is really a goal and you need to determine the value(s) underlying it.

I’m currently accepting new clients. If you would like some support as you make changes or figure some things out, I invite you to contact me to set up a free 15-minute, no-obligation consultation. Call or text 816-226-4678.

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