“Action is the foundational key to all success” ~ Pablo Picasso
How many times have you made plans, set a goal or even come up with a to-do list and failed to execute on it? How often have you told yourself that you will do something but not right now? How frequently have you even made plans to execute a plan later only to put it off to a later and later date until it simply fades into oblivion? February is the month where people habitually fail at their New Years’ resolutions. For example, US News and World Report estimate that 80% of those who purchase gym memberships fall off their new routine by the second week in February. So why is it so easy to come up with resolutions and so difficult to execute on them? Knowing how to motivate yourself to action is a critical life skill, yet it is rare to be taught the basics of how to create the necessary internal motivation to take the action. Although there are many ways to motivate yourself to action, two of the most critical methods are to align the action with a powerful lov e-based emotion and to surround yourself with others who are engaging in the same action or support the action you intend to take.
For whatever action you intend, first ask yourself what you will experience emotionally when you take the action and when the desired outcome has been created. This is the motivation, the “why,” and should always be a powerful love-based emotional experience when used as a tool for motivating action. Peace, love, joy, compassion, passion and gratitude are great motivators. Intentionally aligning this outcome of a powerful love-based emotion now with the action you intend to take will motivate you to actually engage in that act. For example, if the action you are intending is to eat healthy or work out in the new year, ask yourself how it will feel to be slimmer and more vital in the body. Perhaps you will experience happiness or joy after losing weight and optimizing your body. When you become clear about what that internal experience will be after you take the action, you can use that experience to motivate you to action in the current moment. By envisioning the outcome and feeling the experience that the anticipated action will bring, you can create an internal state of motivation around any action you choose.
A second and oftentimes overlooked way to support motivation for yourself over time is to intentionally choose the company you keep. You most likely remember the power of peer pressure from when you were in high school but the fact of the matter is that peer pressure can serve to motivate you at any age. When you surround yourself with others who support an action you intend to take or are themselves committed to taking such action, you have connected yourself to a powerful motivational force. In an MSN article entitled Peer Pressure Can Be Good For You, it was reported that people who exercise together burn more calories, those who diet together lose more weight, and that if a partner or close friend stops smoking, your chances of quitting go up exponentially. As Charles Duhigg states in The Power of Habit, “When people join groups where change seems possible, the potential for that change to occur becomes more real.”
As a practice this month, focus on one action that you intend to take that you know will have a particularly profound impact on your life if you consistently engage that action during 2017. As you sit in your twenty-minute daily practice, see yourself taking that action, imagine the outcome it creates in your life, feel the experience that is created and imagine yourself surrounded by others who are either taking the same action or support you taking that action. During your meditation, live the reality of the action and the outcome it produces as though it is occurring during your meditation. When you hone the skill of motivating yourself and surround yourself with others who support such action, you can motivate yourself to do anything you choose!