Are there big changes you want to make, but you just can’t get yourself to do them?
If you’ve encountered this, you’re probably thinking “gawd…if only I could get some motivation…THEN, everything would be different!”.
And then maybe, you went to look for inspiration from others.
“If they can do it, so can I!”, you say to yourself after reading a touching story on Facebook.
But the effects of this “inspiration” are short lived.
You feel fired up enough to order another infomercial fitness product and by the time it arrives in the mail, you have lost all interest.
If you want to KEEP going with something, momentum is better than motivation.
When you have the confidence that you can do something *because you’re already doing it*, you start to become unstoppable.
But what if you’re struggling to build that initial momentum?
And what about on days when it’s harder?
What about when you can’t fathom the idea of creating a balanced meal, and just want to say “F it!” and stop for drive-thru?
What about when you simply don’t really want to exercise?
That’s when it’s time to dig deep.
No, not digging deep into your energy and willpower reserves… though there may be some of that.
I mean going deep inside of yourself and connecting with your core values.
What are your personal values as they relate to your nutrition and fitness habits?
I don’t mean superficial statements like “I value healthy foods” or “I want to have a yoga butt”.
I mean the real shit.
The beliefs and values that drive you in just about everything you do.
Perseverance and determination: “It’s important to me to be the type of person who doesn’t let one setback define them.”
Compassion: “I believe in treating myself and others with kindness”
Leadership and family: “It’s important to me that I model healthy behaviors for my children”.
See what I mean?
Maybe I listed some of your values above…maybe I didn’t nail any of them.
The point isn’t that you need to adopt new values and that those values are going to be what makes you successful.
The point is to connect with the values you already have.
That’s what makes it so no matter how tired you are….no matter how stressed you are…you do the right thing to move forward.
Of course “right thing” is relative.
I’m not saying that you have to be rigid with your plans.
I’m not saying that even if you had a 1-hour workout planned and you’re an emotional wreck because your dog died, you HAVE to go to do the workout or you’ll be in opposition to your deepest values.
What it looks like to express those values will vary based on the given scenario.
In the catastrophic emotional example, connecting with your value of perseverance might simply be to get up and go outside for a minute.
And sometimes your values will dictate that you SHOULD skip your planned health habit altogether.
If you’re absolutely, 100% exhausted, the best thing you can do to honor your value of compassion might be to go to bed early and have more energy to try again tomorrow.
And of course, the expression of a value will vary depending on the information or skills you have available.
If you already have the skills to navigate binge eating urges, you might express your value of modeling healthy behaviors for your children by making sure to practice using those skills and try your best to avoid the binge.
If you DON’T have those skills, then modeling healthy behaviors might simply mean that after you binge, you make sure to avoid unhealthy negative self-talk that you would never want your kids engaging in.
Does that make sense?
Connecting with your values is the most effective way to keep moving forward.
It keeps you thinking of the bigger picture rather than obsessing over smaller details and engaging in black-and-white thinking.
Connecting with your values is a replacement for ineffective motivation strategies, but it’s not complete on its own.
If you’re trying to make the wrong types of changes to your nutrition and lifestyle habits and are trying to use connecting with your values as a “trick” to force yourself to do things, you will quickly find yourself burnt out and frustrated.
You need to have all of the relevant information on how to best apply your values.
If you value living a life with balance, but the diet industry has convinced you that some extreme protocol is balanced (when it’s not), then you’re using your value of balance to force yourself to eat in an unbalanced way.
If you value perseverance, but you’re following a poorly constructed exercise program, you might accidentally force yourself to “persevere” all the way to a sore back and cranky shoulders.
Ask me how I know that last one ;-).
P.S. If you would like some direction on how to most effectively change your eating and lifestyle habits, check out the Habit Project™.