This writing is inspired by a conversation we had with a realtor last night. A man in his 50s, he had recently lost 12 lbs by “going to a gym and setting goals” for himself. He relayed how, unlike him, one of his female friends has struggled in the weight loss realm– “she texted me last night to say she’s ordering some microwaveable diet boxes sent to her home.” It was hard not to let a groan escape while protesting, “but a client just got off of that stuff and is losing weight; she can do it too!”
Why are some people successful – “I set goals and go after them” – versus those who set goals and 3 days later find their manifesto is buried under the mail on the coffee table?
It’s not like second group didn’t set goals (though typically the goals are too broad to be S.M.A.R.T. ) so why aren’t THEY able to implement them?
Over the years of working with clients, we have noticed a variety of factors playing into a client’s success in reaching their health and lifestyle goals. Readiness for change, motivation, creative problem-solving, dedication, contingency planning, and a willingness to make the financial and time investment for their health all can play a part.
Here’s another way to view motivation
Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, has created four categories people may fall into based on how they respond to internal and external motivators. These are the Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, and Rebel. In general, Upholders are motivated by internal and external factors; Questioners want to know what the rules are and why they should follow them (if the reason suits them, they will internalize this for action); Rebels flount the rules while seeking freedom and self-determinism; and Obligers respond to external expectations but not their own internal ones (i.e. the ‘manifesto’ mentioned above) and hate the feeling of letting someone down.
The Upholders we work with are very good executors of recommendations; they are energized by a list of recommendations and like to turn them into to-do lists which they can check off with a sense of accomplishment. They are motivated to not disappoint others (their healthcare provider, for example) and they tend to be very hard on themselves or feel upset when they don’t follow through on their goals or recommendations.
What we see most in our practice are Obligers and here’s what is typically related during the initial consultation:
“I have health issues and am aware of what I should be doing but I’m not sure why I cannot seem to follow through. I’ve been on soooo many diets. My neighbor went gluten-free and lost 20lbs, why can’t I? ” These people float in a sea of information but aren’t sure what to exclude/include, how to synthesize it….or the big one, how to take action in a sustainable manner. They are generally overwhelmed and feel a sense of shame over what they ‘should’ be doing.
As we work together, they enjoy aiming to be a ‘gold star’ client and they end up putting recommendations into place. They receive support when they ‘fall off’ the wagon and are reassured and encouraged to think of how to overcome obstacles to problems. They start taking better care of themselves – not just with food, but by taking time for exercise or reflection.
They are successful in reaching their goals because they have a nutritionist & health coach who understands what motivates them, provides longer-term support, guidance and accountability.
In fact, we are One Bite Wellness are dedicated to ‘walking our talk’ in this arena too. Many clients are surprised when we tell them that we have our own accountability partner and coach. “Well, you already seem to know everything”…..knowledge, as we’ve seen above, doesn’t equal action; having someone to share obstacles with and create sustainable goals, has proven invaluable.
An important question to ask yourself: what is driving you? Is your motivation internal or external? Where do you fall in the categories mentioned above?
When you understand where your motivation stems from, you’ll have a key to knowing the next step to take towards your goals.