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Stay Motivated To Make Lasting Changes With These 5 Simple Steps

I see the light

“The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings.” ~Ralph Blum

We all face obstacles. Maybe you're unhappy in your career, but don’t know what else you’d like to do with your life. Maybe you're unfulfilled in your relationship, but don't know how to communicate this to your partner. Or maybe you're struggling to make ends meet financially, and don't know how to get out of debt.

A few years ago, my life was in complete shambles. My marriage had fallen apart, I was unfulfilled at work, I felt disconnected and misunderstood by family and friends, and I was in an all out battle with my physical body as I suffered through the aftermath of a decade’s worth of dysfunctional eating habits.

My entire life felt like one big obstacle, and unfortunately, when we feel like this it's easy to lose track of who we really are and what we really want in life.

Whether it's family, friends, career, finances, or a combination of all the above, if left ignored these obstacles can quickly grow to feel insurmountable.

We begin to feel overwhelmed, stuck, and anxious, which manifests itself as lack of motivation, procrastination, and a slew of behaviors and symptoms that represent our avoidance of facing these obstacles head on.

Well, with every day that passed, more and more pieces of my life began crumbling around me. I knew something needed to change, but what? Where would I start? What did I want?

I knew I couldn't fight the entire war at once, so I spent many hours asking myself these questions and trying to figure out which battlefield to walk onto first, if any. Eventually, I decided to tackle the obstacle I'd been battling the longest: I decided to focus on building a better relationship with my physical body.

We all have that one hurdle that rears its ugly head over and over again, and for me, that hurdle was my diet.

At the time, if you'd asked me “Why do you want to build a better relationship with your physical body?” I would have responded with something like this:

“Because I'm in physical pain.”

While this was a good enough reason to choose this as the first obstacle to tackle, it didn't hold weight for very long. Pretty soon, I found myself losing motivation, and asking myself the question, “But why?”

“But why is it important to overcome this physical pain?”

Since all the dysfunctional behaviors surrounding my eating issues were familiar, and I'd been dealing with the physical pain for so long, I actually found comfort in it.

So I knew this lack of clarity was a recipe for disaster, and a surefire way to quickly lose motivation. I needed to go deeper to uncover the real reason why I desired to change this area of my life.

Eventually, I came up with this:

“Because my eating habits are affecting all aspects of my life: My career, my physical health, my relationships and social life.”

This answer was definitely more honest, but once again, it still wasn't good enough to warrant the hard work and dedication I knew it would take to overcome this obstacle. The people in my external environment had grown to expect these strange behaviors from me, and even aspects of my career had been based around some of my dysfunction.

So once again, I found myself asking the question: “But why?”

“But why does it matter that your eating issues are affecting your career, your physical health, your relationships, and social life?”

And that's when it hit me; that's when the real motivation behind my desire to change rose to the surface: “I'm lonely, unfulfilled, scared, and I have no clue who I am anymore.”

Bingo. Just like that, I uncovered the real source of pain surrounding this obstacle in my life. All of a sudden, there was a new fire fueling my motivation and desire to change.

With this new clarity, I was able to craft a clear picture of what I actually wanted in my life: I wanted to feel connected to the people and situations around me. I wanted to feel connected to myself. And I wanted to stop living in fear.

Once I uncovered the real motivation behind my desire to change, I slowly started to realize that each and every obstacle I was facing in my life stemmed from the exact same pain! I somehow knew that by attacking this pain at its roots, I’d be able to overcome all these obstacles at once.

And this new clarity about what I didn't want was the motivation I needed to help me finally develop a clear and honest vision of what I actually did want in my life.

So now it’s your turn. Here are 5 steps to gain more clarity about why you want to change, and what you want in life:

Step 1:

Pull out a piece of paper and a pen.

Step 2: 

Ask yourself the question, “What's one area of my life that I'd like to change?” Write this answer on the top of the page.

Step 3:

Look at your answer. Now ask yourself, “But why is this important?” Write this new answer below your previous answer.

Step 4: 

Repeat step 3 until you uncover the real reasons motivating you to change. Keep going deeper. You’ll know when you’ve gotten to the root cause of your pain.

Step 5:

Based on what you uncover, develop a clear vision of what you want in your life. Use this new awareness and motivation to help you remain committed to this new path.

Remember: Saying “I’m unhappy at work” or “I feel unfulfilled in my relationship” isn’t deep enough. Keep going!

We all face obstacles in our lives, but if we’re willing to do the tough work of asking ourselves “why?” these obstacles can truly become the gateways that lead to greater clarity and new beginnings. We can use this clarity to gain a deeper understanding of what we really want in life, and to motivate us to make lasting changes.

Photo by Lel4nd

About Victoria Gigante

Victoria Gigante is the co-founder of The Higher Purpose Project. She has a free e-course, 21 Days to a Daily Practice, on her website, a book, 365 Daily Practice Prompts, and a podcast called Empower Yourself. Follow Victoria on Twitter @VictoriaGigante and communicate with her directly on Facebook.

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  • Great advice. Once you’ve uncovered your true underlying pains it’s a good idea to create a personal mission statement where you commit to working on dissolving them and put it somewhere you can read it every day. Thanks for sharing, Victoria 🙂

  • Great post, here are 3 things I took from it:

    1: I love the fact you started with yourself. I truly believe you can’t connect to others before you’ve learned to be at one with yourself.

    2: Going deeper to find the REAL reason you want…or DON’T want something. Like peeling off the layers until you find the truth.

    3: Because of concentrating on yourself first then going deeper you get clarity. In other words, you know WHY you’re doing something. This of course means that you’ll keep going until you get it.

    Thanks Victoria. 🙂

  • AJ

    This is what I needed today. It’s weird when you feel so alone in the world that a simple article on your RSS Feed feels like someone is listening to you and hears your pain.

  • AaeKay :)

    Beautiful article!
    Needed this today and in the coming days.

  • Awesome! Thank you. I’m happy to hear that you found value in this article 🙂

  • Ahhh yes. Sometimes support comes from the places we least expect. Our job is to simply keep our eyes, ears, and hearts open, right? 🙂 Happy to hear you found value in this article today!

  • Awesome advice Patrik. Yes, a personal mission statement is an excellent way to solidify your commitment to moving forward – as is a vision board. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Excellent Scott! I love the way you’ve outlined your takeaway from this article. Thank you for sharing your insight!

  • lv2terp

    FANTASTIC post!!!! 🙂 You make this point so clear with your experience, epiphany, and steps to guide us to find it for ourselves! Thank you for sharing your vulnerable story, and helping others find peace and growth! Beautiful 🙂

  • Thank you! I’m happy to hear that you found the steps clear and useful. YES: Finding these answers for ourselves is truly the only way 🙂 Have an amazing day!

  • friend forever

    Victoria,

    The exercise that you have suggested above is really effective. I tried it today with a issue that had been pressing me since a long time, and I can confidently say that am 1 step closer to the root of my problem 🙂 It’s a real relief to uncover the real issues and motivations behind our desires and actions. Thank u for sharing this exercise. I plan to incorporate it in various forms, in different aspects of my life, to get to the bottom of me. I think it’s a wonderful way to get to know yourself also and asking questions is definitely the way to be enlightned about yourself.

    Thanks a lot Victoria!
    And all the best to you 😀
    Have a lovely day ahead!

  • Excellent. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with this exercise! I am very happy to hear that you found it useful, and hope it continues to provide value to your life. You are correct: We must be willing to ask ourselves the difficult questions in order to get to the bottom of who we truly are and what we really want out of life! You have an awesome day as well 🙂

  • Amrit

    Hi Victoria,

    Love the article but I’m a little stuck on the exercise. I seem to be going around in circles lol. I’m not sure I’m quite at the root cause (clueless actually) but I have gone pretty deep inside. Only problem is like I said, it’s going in circles. Here is where I am so far, I hope you or anyone else would be able to help me out :). Sorry it’s a little long. It keeps coming back to wanting to live and die with no regrets, and that I’m scared if it doesn’t work out and I remain unfulfilled and die as a failure. Sounds like I’m almost there..

    What’s the one area of my life that I’d like to change?

    MY FINANCIAL SITUATION.

    But why is this important?

    BECAUSE I’M 25 AND NEED TO CREATE SOMETHING.

    But why is this important?

    BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE I’M FAILING IN THIS ASPECT.

    But why is this important?

    BECAUSE I CAN’T DO ALL THE THINGS I WANT TO DO, LIKE BUY A CAR, TAKE A BOOTCAMP, TRAVEL THE WORLD, GO OUT AS MUCH AS I WANT TO ETC.

    But why is this important?

    BECAUSE I WANT TO LIVE. I WANT TO REACH AS CLOSE TO MY POTENTIAL AS POSSIBLE, AND HAVING FREEDOM IS THE KEY.

    But why is this important?

    BECAUSE I’M ONLY GOING TO BE ALIVE ONCE, AND I WANT TO BECOME THE PERSON I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO BE. THE KIND OF PERSON I’VE IDOLISED FOR YEARS BUT NEVER QUITE MADE A STEP TOWARDS BECOMING.

    But why is this important?

    BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO DIE WITH ANY REGRETS THAT I DIDN’T DO EVERYTHING IN LIFE THAT I WANTED TO DO (BECAUSE OF FINANCES…)

    But why is this important?

    SO I CAN LIVE AND DIE WITH HAPPINESS.

    But why is this important?

    BECAUSE BEING HAPPY IS ALL THAT MATTERS TO ME IN LIFE

    But why is this important?

    BECAUSE I’LL BE DEAD ONE DAY. MIGHT AS WELL LIVE WITH AS MUCH HAPPINESS AS POSSIBLE IN THE TIME I HAVE LEFT

    But why is this important?

    SO I FEEL LIKE I’VE ACHIEVED ALL I’VE WANTED TO ACHIEVE, AND DO ALL I’VE WANTED TO DO. SO I DON’T HAVE ANY REGRETS.

    But why is this important?

    BECAUSE I’LL BE DEAD ONE DAY. AND I AM AFRAID THAT IF THINGS STAY LIKE THIS, I WONT BE ABLE TO BE DIE WITH NO REGRETS. I’M SCARED THAT TIME IS GOING TO RUN OUT ON ME, AND I’LL REMAIN PARALYSED MY WHOLE LIFE, STUCK FROM TAKING ACTION.

    But why is this important?

    BECAUSE I ALSO WANT TO LIVE AS AN EXAMPLE TO OTHERS, THAT IT IS POSSIBLE TO DO WHATEVER YOU WANT, BY WORKING FOR YOURSELF AND BY NOT HAVING TO WORK LIFE AWAY UNTIL I AM 65.

    But why is this important?

    BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO DIE AS A FAILURE IN MY OWN EYES.

  • dj williamson

    I’m lying in bed in the dark surfing the net on my phone for some piece of wisdom, some philosophy or truth I can take hold of to help me get myself back on track. I have a beautiful wife (asleep beside me) an amazing 2 year old girl and another baby on the way. We do well financially, have a nice home and a bit of money in the bank. I have no reason to complain yet here I am. I eat poorly, exercise infrequently, drink too much and even started “socially” smoking again. I feel like poop but can’t seem to find the resolve to do anything meaningful about it. Where do I begin the journey to better physical wellbeing? And how do I stay on the path once I start?

    I did your written exercise and it was helpful. I now have a better understanding of why I’m feeling the way I do and what my true motivations to change are. Perhaps surfing the net in bed in the dark for spiritual guidance isn’t as silly as it sounds 🙂

    Consider yourself twitter-follwed.

  • johnny

    quit drinking, quit smoking. eat well, start exercising. surround yourself with more positive information. be persistent. it will rub off on you. look up the 80/10/10 diet for the best diet. lots of youtube videos available to you.