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Change your behavior: What if motivation is not enough?

Change your behavior? Most people try to motivate themselves. With enough energy, positivity and motivation any goal could be achieved. Meanwhile, most studies show that about 8% of the good habits we start with succeed. What does it turn out to be? Motivating yourself and positivity do not seem to be a good strategy at all to adapt something in your life. So what can you do?

What is motivation?

Motivation is the positive feeling and energy you have to start something new. For example, if you want to change something in your life in order to reduce your pain, you may want to do so in the beginning. There is nothing wrong with motivation, it feels good! The problem is that the motivation often decreases after a while. 

Probably everyone knows the positive flow you can experience when you really want to go for something. Maybe you have read one of the blogs and went for a fanatic walk. To suddenly find out three weeks later that you haven't walked for a few days...


If the motivation drops

These setbacks are often accompanied by a decline in motivation. After three weeks of addressing yourself severely, the positive side is gone. The energy you got when you started walking has slowly faded away. It doesn't do you much anymore. 

Motivation is therefore strongly linked to emotions. Both positive and negative emotions can motivate, but emotions are also variable. We never maintain the same emotional state for a long time. So it is only logical that a few weeks after you have started with your healthy behaviour, the 'flow' you felt earlier has disappeared.

Less and less motivation and energy

And it doesn't get any more fun... (at the end of the blog it does!). Takes our enthusiasm for the things we 'have to do'. Things become normal after a while. Even though your goal is valuable, the behavior towards your goal often gets boring after a while. After a few weeks you're tired of walking and it takes more and more effort. And especially when stress arises, life runs a while less, we fall back into old habits. Often just the habits you wanted to change. 

The problem of changing your behavior while the motivation decreases is that it can no longer be sustained. The train power you still need to keep going is enormous. You have to force yourself to hold on to your new pattern. Sometimes you will find that the excuses for not doing it are starting to pile up.


If something isn't fun anymore, it takes your willpower

When your enthusiasm decreases, you need more and more perseverance to keep up with your new behaviour. We also call it 'willpower' - that you do something because you really want it.

Every decision you make one day, every time you consciously choose something else, takes willpower. If you are very enthusiastic, something doesn't cost a lot of willpower. When your enthusiasm is gone, it costs more willpower. At a certain point the balance is gone. You need more willpower than there is in your stock and you end up with your old behaviour. Habits, good or bad, hardly cost any willpower.

When you run out of willpower, you get a burning feeling. It takes more and more effort to keep up the changes you want to make. Maybe you also become more and more strict towards yourself and more negative. 

The alternative: Fun and small steps

The trick, therefore, is to make a habit of your good intention without exhausting your willpower. That way you can maintain your good habit, even if you don't feel like it for once.

small steps

The best way to do that? A lot is known about that, fortunately! It works best to do something that is fun (because it takes less willpower). That's why Reducept, for example, is in 'game form'. It makes it much easier to start and therefore takes less effort. In addition, it helps to build up in small steps.

It works best to set a very small goal every day. So small, that you've squeaked it. If you want to do more, that's no problem. But you don't expect yourself to have to. Only when you notice that it's easy, you go on. In this way you set 2-3 small goals a day, which you repeat until you notice that they become automatism knives. 

Want to know more about micro habits, motivation, willpower and our brain? Reducept members can watch the webinar (in Dutch) on this topic!