How to motivate yourself or anyone to take action

One thing that holds us back in life is doing things that aren’t good for us. Here’s how to start doing the things that are.

Here's how to motivate yourself or anyone to take action.

One thing that holds us back is doing things that aren’t good for us.

Pain vs pleasure is a really simple framework we use to motivate ourselves. It’s based on the idea we can motivate ourselves with pain or with pleasure.

Say you want to change your health. There are two things you can focus on: what will happen if you do change it. And what will happen if you don’t.

Turns out most people are much more motivated by moving away from pain than they are moving towards pleasure.

A great example is the people you know who still smoke even though they know it gives them cancer. They won’t stop until they get sick.

They knew they could have felt better earlier but they had to wait until it got really bad. It’s a terrible way to live.

I want you to think about something in your life you want to change right now: career, relationship, finances. You’re holding yourself back though, maybe because of fear of the unknown, which I understand.

Let’s put this through the pleasure lens first. What will you get if you achieve that goal? What will happen in your life? How will things shift? What will be different?

See how you feel about that.

Let it sink in.

Is it motivating? Does it give you oomph to get cracking?

Now let’s go to the other side. Think about the goal again, then imagine never achieving it. Never doing anything with it.

What does that bring up inside you? If it’s a genuine goal, the idea of never making it is going to bring up some type of pain, some hurt.

Which would you prefer?

Another way to do this is you can face the consquences of not changing. When I was growing up I noticed most people around me were unhealthy, unhappy and unfulfilled. I asked myself, ‘Is that what I want—do I really want to end up being 35 and moving in the wrong direction?’

The answer I gave myself when I was about 23 was no.

I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to be that person at 50 with a big gut and sore back and a life that felt almost over rather than halfway over.

So I used the pain I felt around an unfulfilled future to motivate me to go on this journey of coaching. I started to educate myself and read books and go to seminars. I connected with people who had the results I wanted instead of listening to those who didn’t.

I trust this gives you a bit of inspiration when it comes to achieving your goals, facing the consequences of not achieving the goal.

Don’t live in the la la land world of ‘it will be okay’. Sometimes it won’t be okay. It’s a healthy thing to face that, move towards the pleasure and let that motivate you to do something different.

Matt Lavars is one of Australia's leading coaches, trainers and speakers, and head facilitator at The Coaching Institute. In between mentoring thousands of coaches and leaders all around Australasia and helping others build incredible culture, Matt is passionate about fitness and music. His healthy office lunches whipped up in five minutes are the stuff of legend.

Matt Lavars
Matt LavarsThe Coaching Institute