Do you want to lose weight but think to yourself, "I have no will power" or "My motivation runs out after a while”? I hear you and I need to clear up some misconceptions going on in these statements. I never want you to feel like there's something wrong with you or that you are less than in any way for not being able to stick with your goals.
I know how this feels and it ain't nice. I want to shine a new light on motivation and will power so you don’t fall short on your weight loss journey.
Let’s jump right in.
Common Motivation Misconception
Where does motivation come from? What is motivation? Recently I asked a friend to define motivation (without looking it up of course). He said it was “the drive to keep doing something.” It was interesting to hear this common misconception about what we think motivation is. My friend confirmed my idea that many people don’t know what motivation is. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be so elusive and hard to do.
How did we stay so far from the truth? Who knows, maybe somewhere in all the good meaning self-help and self-improvement content. Alas, here we are.
The misconception is that most people think motivation is the DESIRE to take action and that desire is maintained with WILL POWER. Will power is the ability to resist short-term temptations to achieve long-term goals. Think about how many times you hear people say “that person must have no motivation to lose the weight” implying that they have no desire or will power. Statements like this boil my blood but that’s a story for a different day.
If I were to put this definition of motivation into an equation it would look like this:
DESIRE + WILL POWER = MOTIVATION
When it comes to weight loss, this equation might look like:
I want to lose weight + I will not eat x, y, z = I’ll stick with my diet forever
But this equation isn’t so perfect. If you think about it, how come you see some people crushing their goals and others struggling to keep up? Do some people have unlimited will power while some are deficient in it? Or is one person’s desire greater than another’s? Thankfully neither are the case.
Will power is often compared to a muscle. If you overuse it, it will tire out. If you rely solely on will power all day every day, it will run out of will power. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re on a diet where you can’t eat x, y, z. On Monday morning you use your willpower to say no to a co-working sharing the forbidden food. On Wednesday night you have to turn down your partner’s request to order in the forbidden food. You’ve been doing this non-stop all week, exerting your will power to make ‘good’ choices. Now it’s Saturday night and you’re home alone. Then it happens, you give-in and overindulge. What happened in this scenario? You tired out your will power muscle.
Simply having a desire to lose weight and exerting will power to reach to your goal won’t get you lasting results. I’m not saying will power is useless but it should be used in moderation. When you understand what truly results in motivation you can dial back your use of this misguided equation.
What Is Motivation?
We know it’s not desire + will power. There’s a key piece missing in this equation. If you were to simply look up the definition of motivation it’d say motivation is the REASON behind wanting to take action. So the equation would be adjusted to:
DESIRE + WHY POWER = MOTIVATION
What is why power you ask? Quite simply, it's the reason WHY you want to achieve your action or goal. It’s the REASON behind your goal. When it comes to weight loss, the revised equation could look like this:
I want to lose weight + I’m doing this for my wellbeing = I’ll maintain my healthy habits
Why power is the real MVP of the motivation game.
Why Is Why Power So Important?
When the right meaning of motivation is used you start to see a big difference in outcomes. Why power gives you the ability to muster through all the different WHAT’s and HOW’s you’ll have to maneuver. I believe it was Friedrich Nietzsche who said “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”
I know you know life isn’t sunshine and rainbows all the time. So when life gets rough why the heck do you want to pursue something if you don't know why you’re doing it in the first place. Maybe you have a why but it’s only surface-level deep or maybe you’ve adopted the why from someone else without it truly resonating with you.
Knowing why you’re doing anything will keep you going when the going gets tough. Knowing why will help you figure out what you need to be doing and how you need to be doing it. For example, you’re less likely to follow a quick diet for quick results if you know you want to lose weight to feel comfortable in your skin.
Then when you need to use will power to maintain your goals, you add it like a cherry on top of the motivation cake. That would give us a motivation equation that looks like this:
DESIRE + WHY POWER + WILL POWER = MOTIVATION
How Do You Find Your Why Power?
This is where it gets tricky. It’s common to be influenced by external factors to the point where we think we’re doing something for us but really we’re not. How many times have you set a goal only to realize it wasn't your goal to begin with? I think of friends pursuing educations or jobs because they adopted their parent’s goal without thinking if it was what they truly wanted. I know I’ve been there. Have you ever thought about why you want the things you want?
To help you figure it out start with your goal in mind then ask yourself why do you want to achieve this goal? Or why is this goal important to you? Or why do you want to make this change? There is no right or wrong question to ask as long as it starts with WHY.
For each answer you come up with, keep asking why. Do this for a total of 5-7 times and you will get you to your root motivator buried deep inside your heart.
I learned this technique from Dean Graziosi, a life coach, who said he learned it from one of his coaches. In Graziosi’s book Millionaire Success Habits he uses this technique to help you find your purpose in life. I’ve adopted it into my practice to help empower you to reach your goals.
*Bonus Tip: I don't think there are any right or wrong goals. I believe the purpose of our goals is to help us figure out what we don’t want and get us one step closer to what we do want. That’s why it’s important to continually re-evaluate your why power. Keep checking in with yourself and keep pursuing what you want.
Now It’s Your Turn
Next time you make a weight loss goal I want you to try this why power technique on for size. Why let your weight loss goals linger in the background of your life?
Here's to you and your success.