Motivation Pt 2

Our ancestors needed to get the berries before the birds did. In the ancient environment short-term thinking was king.

One way to overcome an initial reluctance for a change is to make sure you are crystal clear about the consequences of that change. To that end, it can be useful to do think about the advantages and the disadvantages of the change. It can also be useful to think about these things from both the short-term and the long-term perspectives. You could use the following matrix to assist with this:

Change I want to make:

Advantages of ChangeDisadvantages of Change
Short-Term Consequences

Long-Term Consequences

By making this stuff as clear as possible you are providing yourself with all the reasons for the change you can.

Now, the problem is that when it comes to actually engaging in the new behaviour all this logical and reasonable stuff disappears from your mind completely. And it gets challenged or replaced by whiny,  can’t be bothered type of thinking – See my struggle to get out for a run in the morning as detailed in my earlier Motivation Pt 1 post. This is a pretty classic human response.

We humans have evolved to value short-term consequences over longer-term consequences any day. In the ancient environment short-term thinking was king. Our ancient ancestors were scratching out their living on the African Savanna. If they were to come across a bush laden with berries which the birds were already eating, they would scare away the birds, help themselves and eat their fill. “Saving some for later” is actually a dumb move in this environment. The birds, or other people will get there first and our ancestor would miss out, a potentially lethal outcome.  Of course, we now live in a completely different setting one of abundance and relative safety. Parts of our brain, however, still think we’re living in the scarcity of the Savanna. You need to engage the more sophisticated bits of your brain to over-ride your short-term thinking.

So, when it comes to the actual moment of change it will pay to have your matrix on hand so you can read it yourself in this tricky moment. Remind your reasonable self of reasons for the change and then get on and do it.

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