Happy February! Congratulations, you’ve made it through one month of your New Year’s resolution. February is a good time for self-reflection. Where are you in your self-change process? Do you remain as motivated as you were on January 1 to achieve your resolution? Is your interest waning? Are old habits winning out? Have you just given up?
I’d like to share some of my own personal insights on what makes lasting change. In my last few blogs, I’ve shared with you some of the goals and changes I had set for myself. I approached each of these goals a little differently. To address the first, taking control of my personal finances, I flooded myself with resources and support through Learnvest.com. To address the second, taking my fitness to a new level, I relied on research, understanding how motivation really works.
I learned that motivation doesn’t come from incentives, encouragement or willpower. Author Daniel Pink reviewed 40 years worth of scientific research on motivation in his book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Pink found that the key to lasting behavior change lies in what motivates you to make a change happen.
There are three factors that can be attributed to goal attainment and lasting behavior change:
- Autonomy – The sense of ownership you have over your actions
- Mastery – The desire to improve upon your abilities
- Purpose – A desire to take action for a cause larger than yourself
For me, mastery was the key to improving upon my physical fitness. I’ve attempted to work on this goal many times in the past. Every time I approached this goal, I looked back at what I had been the most successful with – running. I decided I would have to do even more running if I wanted to improve upon my fitness. So, my next step had always been finding a training plan to complete a half-marathon. Every time I tried this plan, I lost interest by the time I build up to five miles. But for the number of times that I have set that goal, I’ve never run a half-marathon, and my fitness level has stayed about the same.
After having read Drive, I understood that trying to train for yet another half-marathon just wouldn’t work. I needed to try something new that my mind and body didn’t know how to accomplish. I found my motivation in the form of mastering resistance training. Not only was I working on my goal of improved physical fitness, I was engaging my mind while I was doing it. I think about my form and perfecting it. I experiment with increasing resistance. Now, I gauge my performance to others in the class and work to perform at their levels. This approach has kept me going for six months.
I think it’s safe to call that lasting behavior change!
If all of this talk has peaked your interest in the motivation behind lasting behavior change, check out this YouTube clip from RSA Animate to learn more about the concepts discussed in Drive, www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc.
Kate N., MS, CEAP, joined Empathia in 2005 as an EAP counselor, then became a performance specialist in 2012. Kate has a master’s degree in Educational Psychology. Kate is devoted to helping individuals determine how to make lasting changes. Prior to joining Empathia, she worked in the social work field as a case manager for Child Protective Services. Kate enjoys baking, yoga and escaping to the woods of Northern Wisconsin.