I don’t have a knowledge gap. I have a doing gap.
That’s the conclusion most people reach when asked why they don’t make healthy changes.
We can think of a zillion and one reasons why it’s a great idea to lead a healthy lifestyle. We’ll have bucket loads of energy, a body to be proud of, we’ll love moving our bodies, and have long and healthy lives.
We know that once we’ve got the whole “habits, systems, routine” thing going, it’s going to be so easy for us. We’ll just be doing it all on autopilot—loving every moment and reaping the rewards.
Yep, we get all of that in theory, but the reality doesn’t seem to match up.
We start with enthusiasm and excitement.
Hooray for my 7-minute workout!
Hooray for eating an apple with lunch!
Hooray for getting to bed on time!
We feel great for a few weeks. Then, life happens.
Life happens. It’s not a matter of “if.” It’s a matter of “when.”
Something stresses us out. We leave the apple for lunch at home by mistake or get to bed late because we deserve a bit more “me time” in the evenings.
We begin to think, “Who can be bothered with the 7-minute workout? Better to have 7 minutes more sleep.”
Wham, we’re “back where you started.”
Our brain is now saying, “There’s no point. It’s not going to make any difference. You can’t make changes.”
What’s the problem?
“I lack motivation,” we think.
That may be true, but before we get to the motivation question, let’s just acknowledge that voice. It’s the voice of safety. It doesn’t like change.
It’s one of the many voices in our heads. It’s saying, “Hey! We’re alive right now, so this is working. Let’s not rock the boat and make changes. We like familiar and comfortable.”
To which a great reply would be, “I hear you! It’s okay. This is safe. I know you don’t like different, but soon this will become familiar and you’ll love it!”
Back to that question about motivation, it’s true, we do lack motivation. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be having this conversation with ourselves.
The big question is, where do we get motivation from? Does it fall out of the sky? Pick it up from the floor like a lucky penny?
Perhaps. But there’s a much more consistent way.
We generate it ourselves.
I’m all for grasping what we want. If it’s motivation lack, then we just need a recipe to create it.
Here are six simple ways to keep motivated when making healthy changes:
1. Create your vision.
This is our inner motivation. Our why—our “why bother to make changes when our current habits are keeping us alive right now.
Ask how life would change with bucket loads of energy, a body to be proud of, and enjoy moving your body.
What are the positive effects? Brainstorm and fill an entire notebook.
2. Keep your vision alive.
Set aside some time each day to enjoy your vision. Daydream, journal, or give gratitude, whatever works for you, but dip into that vision on a daily basis.
3. Keep your changes easy.
Healthy living doesn’t have to be complicated. Make it easy for yourself.
Here’s an example. A busy mum wants to eat more healthy foods. Friday night is pizza night, but that doesn’t fit in with her new health kick. But, the kids love it.
A simple hack is to add lots of veggies and serve a reasonable portion of pizza. Instead of “all pizza,” add frozen peas or carrot sticks. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
The easier we make it for ourselves, the more likely we’re to carry on doing it.
4. Make it fun and enjoyable.
It might be “easy” to do a 7-minute workout before the kids wake up—but if you hate it, it’s not fun.
What lights you up? What do you enjoy doing?
Experiment a bit to start off. I never knew I enjoyed running until I started it. I’d always seen myself as “running phobic” before I gave it a go and I didn’t enjoy every minute of it, especially to start with. I did enjoy the sense of achievement, and then, I learnt to enjoy the actual running too.
Be curious about what you enjoy and don’t. Give things time before you write them off.
5. Celebrate your wins.
Did a 7-minute workout? Hooray! Well done.
Took an apple for lunch? Way to go!
We’re always so keen “to get where we’re going” that we forget to stop and congratulate ourselves on the changes we’ve made. Those little changes add up to a big change. We need all the steps in a 10,000-step walk. Give yourself credit for taking them.
6. Learn from your “failures.”
They aren’t “failures.” They’re “golden learning opportunities.” They are what you want to change.
Until we understand why we do what we do, we can’t change it. Once we have self-awareness of what’s going on, we’ll find it easy to change.
It might be that we need to make other changes.
Here’s a simple example. We want to get to bed on time but night after night we’re going to be late. One day, we stop beating ourselves up and have a look at why. In the evenings, there is a long list of things to do, plus we’d like some “downtime.”
How can we fix it? Instead of doing the laundry in the evening and then having to sort it out, perhaps decide to do it in the morning. Sounds so simple and now we have a shorter list in the evening and enough time to take some “downtime” and get to bed on time.
Leading a healthy life can be super easy when we know how. Everything’s easy then.
I have to confess I lied. I wrote it wasn’t a knowledge gap—it is and it’s a big, gaping black hole of a knowledge gap.
The knowledge of knowing ourselves—how we tick.
What motivates you to do something or not? What do you want to do? Or not do? What’s important to you? What are all those voices in your head saying?
Once you’ve figured that out, healthy living will fall into place—if you decide you want it to.