It’s only human nature: we do “what we want” much much more often that “what we need”.
Doing what we “want” is just easier.
Often times however, what we “want” is NOT what we “need”.
Come on, admit it:
You WANT to eat that muffin, but you NEED to go to the gym.
You WANT to spend time with your child, but you NEED to go to work.
You WANT to watch TV, but you NEED to read a book.
The problem is that doing something we “need” takes a LOT more energy and discipline compared to something we “want to”.
So instead of desperately trying to force things, a better strategy would be to transform something you "need" into "something you "want".
Here are some strategies you can use to turn “what you need” into something you “want”.
Make it easier by reducing obstacles
Does “what you need” seem to require energy and discipline because it’s “difficult”?
Start by thinking of ways to remove obstacles standing in the way:
- Prepare you gym clothes the night before.
- Put your alarm clock far away from your bed, so you would have to get up to switch if off (no snoozing).
- Banish all sweets from the house (out of sight, out of mind).
- Leave interesting books in various places in the house (living room, kitchen, nightstand) to make it easier to pick them up and read.
- Keep a water bottle on your desk at all times to prompt you to drink.
- Hide the sugar deep inside a cabinet in the kitchen, making it harder to reach easily.
- Park as far away from the door/elevator as possible at work/mall/home.
- Set the timer on your TV to switch off at 10:00pm, regardless of what you’re watching.
Give yourself options and alternatives
We try to do “what we need” to accomplish a certain result. Often times however, we fail to think of easier and more fun alternatives to reach those same results.
- Hate going to the gym? Find a physical activity you consider fun: dancing, swimming, outdoor group workouts, cycling, ultimate Frisbee, or even create your own physical games!
- Hate cooking healthy food? Find someone who loves to cook (there are thousands you can find on social media) and make a deal with them to prepare food for you – all you have to do is re-heat.
Remind yourself of the “why”
One of the most common questions I get from prospective coaching clients is: “I hate my job, but I need the money. What do I do?”
I never answer: “quit your job and do something you enjoy”. That’s just stupid and impractical.
You can, however, “reframe” your job: you hate your job, but it’s getting you paid. What does this money allow you to do? Travel? Buy nice clothes? Bring over your family for a visit? Collect shoes?
Whatever it is, make a list of the “why”, and read it every morning before you head to work. Eventually, you get to a point where you “want” to go to work simply because it’s what ALLOWS you to do what you “want”.
Sometimes we try to do something because we “think we want to”, but deep down we just don’t want it “badly enough”.
This is common when it comes to weight loss for example: when people try to exercise regularly, they do so because of a certain reason. However often times that reason is either too weak or too generic to be powerful enough to get them out of bed and into the gym every morning:
- Exercising to “lose weight” is often too superficial of a reason to be sustainable and powerful.
- Exercising to “be healthy” is too generic: how can you measure “healthy” to test your progress?
By contrast, a specific and important “why” (e.g. to be able to play football with your child) is much more powerful and will keep you pushing forward.
A measurable goal (e.g. take 5 minutes off your 5km race time) will keep you focused, motivated, and give you a sense of accomplishment.
I hope these tips will help you transform what you need into something you truly want, and get you closer to your goals.
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