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Strategies for Successful Behavior Change: Part 2

Woman with arms in the air looking over valley

So you want to make some positive changes in your life? 

Excellent! 

Here’s the most important question you need to answer: Why? 

Why do you want to be different?     

You see, change takes effort; effort takes motivation, and motivation thrives on knowing exactly WHY you are doing what you are doing. 

This is the reason, for example, that US Navy Seal teams – in their preoperational briefing – are not only told what the mission is but why is it necessary: In order to put their lives on the line, they need to be armed with an indomitable motivation. 

How about you? What will be your “indomitable motivation”? 

Any change will inevitably involve discomfort, adjustment, and setbacks. Continuing to do what you have always done is the easiest path --  everything else will take work.  When the time comes, you will need to know exactly why you should pick yourself up, put on your Big Girl pants, and carry on.  

I often work with older people struggling with musculoskeletal pain. Let’s say Grandma Sally has back pain and needs to begin a rehabilitation program. She knows that she “needs to do something” but struggles because she has no habits of exercise, has never played sports or used a gym, and doesn’t like to sweat.  

What to do? 

I can create a customized program for her but that alone is unlikely to solve her problem. We first need to win the battle for Sally’s mind.  

The first thing I do with Grandma Sally is ask a bunch of questions to help her define exactly why she wants to feel better: How would her life be different and better? What benefit does she imagine herself deriving once her back stops hurting? 

“I want to be able to play with my grandkids.” 

Excellent! Now we have a place to start. I will have her write that on a 3x5 card and post it on her bathroom mirror (my personal favorite spot) or her fridge. She needs to look at that multiple times every day so she is ready to call it to mind when she is tempted to skip her workout. 

How about you?  What’s your motivation? 

Wishing you success, 

Dr. Turner  

 

Author
Michael Turner, MD

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