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Getting Out of the Bleachers and Into the Game

You ever find it difficult to get enough energy and/or motivation to start changing? Yes- we all have been there! Sometimes, it is just a lot easier to stay in the bleachers than to “get out into the game”. It becomes comfortable and convenient just to keep things status quo, even when the status quo is less than favorable.

I have helped dozens of people who say to me, “Dr. David, I just don’t feel like doing _______, but I know I need to…”. Or, “I will get around to it on another day…”.

I would like to share with you a few things I have learned and am continually learning on finding and keeping motivation. Now, first of all, I do not believe anyone has the ability to just pull motivation out of a magic bucket at will. If you are waiting for “motivation” to just pop in your lap, I have some disappointing news for you: it usually does not happen like this.

In order to find motivation, you have to change your behaviors! When you change your behaviors, your motivation will eventually catch up with you.

Here are 5 Tips to help you “Get out of the Bleachers and Into the Game”:

1. Start with a Measurable and Reasonable Goal

Once you accomplish that goal, you can add to it. The key is to start small so you are successful. The success will hopefully help to increase your motivation for further change. So if you want to start exercising, I do not advise you to make an unrealistic goal that is not sustainable for you. Instead, start off by saying, “I will exercise at least twice this week”. Hey- if you happen to exercise three times, that’s even better. The key is to start moving and do it now! Once you get the ball moving, it is a lot easier to push it. Behavioral Momentum is an idea that it is a lot easier to maintain movement once you get moving. In addition, once you get moving, it is a lot easier to stay moving as well.

A Bible Verse to Encourage You:

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:13)

2. Continue with the Goal Even when you don’t feel like it!

Have you ever done something, even though you don’t feel like it? Our emotions are God-given, and they are a good thing. However, “emotional reasoning” is a term that psychologists and therapists use when we allow every emotion to always drive us. When we conclude a certain emotion is a reality without the fact behind it, we fall into the trap of “emotional reasoning”. One type of “emotional reasoning” can occur if we conclude that we should not continue a goal or engage in a behavior, as we just don’t feel like it. We give too much weight to the feeling at that moment. You don’t feel like getting out of bed, so you just stay in bed.  Perhaps, you feel overwhelmed at something, so you decided to procrastinate. Oops- that is emotional reasoning. There are going to be times in which you do not feel like continuing, but you have to commit to sticking with it, even when you do not feel like it. Hopefully, your feelings will eventually change.

A Bible Verse to Encourage You:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13)

3. Tell Others About Your Goal

Perhaps, you can post the goal around your house, and tell a few of your friends about your goal. One of the best strategies to get out into the bleachers is to go public with your goal.  Ask an accountability partner to check in with you once or twice a week on the status of how you are doing. Knowing that you have others who will check up on you will help you to keep the course!

A Bible Verse to Encourage You:

“Two are better than one… If any of them falls, the other will lift him up, but pit the one who falls and has no one to help pick him up” (Ecclesiastes. 4:10)

4. Reward Yourself for Your Progress

Give yourself periodic rewards, especially early on in the course of your behavior change program. For example, you can treat yourself to a massage after going to the gym three times during the first week. One of my former clients developed a goal and would only allow herself to drink coffee if she met her particular daily goal. If she did not meet her daily goal, she would not allow herself to drink coffee that day.

5. Recognize barriers and negativity and replace them with POSITIVITY

There will always be barriers that come your way. If you make a failure, don’t give up… just keep your course.  Sometimes it may help to anticipate a particular failure and decide ahead of time how you will respond when the failure occurs. What happens when you miss a meal? Do you beat yourself up? No, you just eat a little more as soon as you get a chance. Do you find yourself saying to yourself, “This is too hard”, or “I just can’t do it anymore?” If so, replace those thoughts with, “Hey, this is tough, but I can do it” or “I can’t stop now…I am almost there”.

A Bible Verse to Encourage You:

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about those things” (Philippians 4:8)

There is the old saying, “How do you eat an elephant?” Well, you do it one small bite at a time. I hope you can start today with that small bite for whatever is on your plate.

Dr. David Adams has been in practice since 2001. He has served in various roles including a child and family therapist, a behavior analyst in a school, and a clinical director for a few agencies that specialize in autism treatment. In addition, Dr. Adams is a former pastor.