Effective Techniques to Motivate You Towards Your Health Goals

This article is written in collaboration with Naluri

About 80 percent of people never set goals for themselves and of those who did, approximately 70 percent will fail to achieve the goals they aimed for. Research has also shown that about one-third of individuals abandon their New Year’s resolutions by January 31. When it comes to health and well being, the same pitfalls may happen unless you know how to direct yourself. Follow these top 5 effective techniques to motivate you towards your health goals.

  1. Identify your Intrinsic Motivation

Human behaviour is based on rewards and incentives. Our motivation, either intrinsic or extrinsic is the reason why we behave a certain way. Intrinsic motivation refers to a behaviour that is driven internally within the individual. It seeks an internal and long-term rewards compare to that of extrinsic motivation. Consequently, intrinsic motivation is said to have a stronger influence on behaviour.

For example, wanting to lose weight to become a healthier version of yourself, to be able to function better at work and have more energy to look after your family is intrinsic compare to the extrinsic motivation of trying to lose weight to look good in a wedding.

In order to succeed with your health goals in long-term, you need to identify and address the aspects that intrinsically motivate you to keep going. You can do this by visualization activity. Try to close your eyes for 3 minutes while visualising and envisioning a happier and healthier you. Try to focus on what you see and how you feel in this vision. Think about the main motivation or drive behind you wanting to get healthier. You can focus on inner goals such as feeling healthier and enjoying the surge of endorphins from exercising. Most importantly, ask yourself what truly drives you or motivates you in life for the long term. 

  1. Set a SMART goal

The SMART framework formula which is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-related is an effective goal setting technique. This ensures that the goal you set is realistic and tangible that is not only clear and well defined, but also measurable within a time frame and relevant to your intrinsic motivation.

A good SMART goal can be something as simple as being able to take the stairs at work 5 days a week within a month so that you can track your progress and maintain it. Because humans are creatures of habit, it is more motivating if we incorporate our health goals into our daily routines (such as walking for 15 mins to 30 mins a day after work) so that it becomes a part of our lives rather than assigning a specific time that we may dread upon.

To identify the appropriate goal, ask yourself what are the healthy changes you would like to start working on to achieve your intrinsic motivation. Start with something doable from today. After about 60 days of practising the desired behaviour, your body and mind will start to crave for healthier activities and foods rather than dread them as you start to reap the benefit.

  1.  Choose a health goal you truly enjoy

Although we may start off dreading the routine of our health goals, we will soon be very determined to maintain it if we choose the kinds of activities we enjoy. Undoubtedly, we tend to get attached to a behaviour that gives us a rise in endorphins like exercise. The association of exercise to increase positive emotions and thoughts will help us to reinforce the behaviour.

Similarly, identify what is most enjoyable to incorporate it into your health routine. If listening to music or watching instructional YouTube tutorials is your hobby, try to listen to music as you walk on the treadmill or follow the step by step cardio tutorial on YouTube.

  1.   Prepare for Roadblocks

Nobody is perfect and everyone is capable of failing to commit to their routine. Relapse rates were sometimes high among individuals undergoing health programs, so, recognizing your setback early on can help you bounce back up faster.

It is okay to fall off the wagon but the most important part of any self-improvement behaviour is to get back up and get back on track. Sustained change in health behaviours is imperative to ensure health goals are followed through the long term. People are said to be more successful in maintaining their health goals when physical and psychological resources are abundant.

A good tip would be to not allow one moment of a setback and roadblock such as a night out feasting with friends or missing exercise routine to prepare for a friend’s birthday party cause you to give up on your goals entirely. Have a motto to continue being strong, forgive yourself and get back on track the next day

There will be days where it may be difficult to maintain your newly set health goal. Allow yourself one cheat day or guilt-free day whereby should the need arise for you to have a setback, you would have the assurance that you are going to get back on the schedule the next day

  1.   Reward yourself and celebrate small wins

Praise and acknowledgement have always been known to increase a person’s self-esteem. Obtaining immediate rewards also tend to increase an individual’s intrinsic motivation. Hence, try to focus on improving area you may be weak at no matter how small it is and strive to make it stronger. 

A goal to work on can be physical, such as decreasing weight, increasing strength, speed or energy. It might even be emotional, such as managing your past hurt, stress or anger. It may even be more cognitive such as to work on having more positive thoughts of success rather than failing. Whatever the goal may be, focus on improving yourself and doing a little bit better as each day passes. After achieving these small new goals, considering that a win no matter how small it is. This will ultimately help improve your self-esteem thus ultimately helping you feel more motivated for new goals.

After every win, be sure to reward yourself. Praise yourself while having a reminder of these wins such as by taking a photo of yourself or keeping a record of it in a positive thought journal as a source of motivation for the future. Keeping a journal of your victories not only builds self-esteem but it also reinforces your desire and passion for that activity to which your brain associates with positive emotions.

“Motivation is an ingredient that needs to be refreshed daily to help you rise every morning with renewed strength and passion to pursue your goals.” said clinical psychologist Pamilia Lourdunathan.

“Every individual has it within himself to fuel his inner fire to be the best version of himself.  Are you ready to rise above your obstacles and soar with motivation towards your goals?”

Perhaps it’s time for you to set your health goal.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Naluri – Pioneering next generation digital therapeutics combining behavioural science, data science and digital design to build the mental resilience needed to achieve your goals and overcome life’s challenges that stand in your way.

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Pamilia Lourdunathan Clinical Psychology
Pamilia is a clinical psychologist and health coach at Naluri, with more than 2 years of practising experience as a clinical psychologist in the government and private sectors under the pediatric and adult unit. She obtained her Master's degree in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from International Islamic University Malaysia and is currently completing her doctoral degree in Psychology at the same institution. She has also received certification on person-centred counselling skills.
Pamilia also has experience as an academician and enjoys conducting research. She is currently in the process of implementing an intervention program aiming to improve the emotional, behavioural and social well-being of adolescents living with HIV at shelter homes. She is passionate about helping the homeless and is experienced as a workshop assistant facilitator in collaboration with Pertubuhan Tindakan Wanita Islam (PERTIWI) and Human Relations Wellness Development (HRW).
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