Let’s take weight loss as an example. If you wanted to lose weight because your mother-in-law says nasty things about you, or because you think you won’t attract a partner at your current weight, that is focusing on extrinsic factors. That means that as soon as you have a bad day, you’re likely to give up altogether.
On the other hand, if you want to lose weight so that you can play with your children at the local park or reduce your risk of chronic disease, that's intrinsic motivation. Because these are things that are important to you, you’re more likely to keep up your efforts, even when it gets uncomfortable.
If you’re still not sure what your deeper reasons are, ask yourself how you would feel if you kept to that goal. It might be ‘more confident’, ‘secure and safe’, ‘proud of myself’, ‘fulfilled’ or ‘strong’. Keeping these in mind can help keep you on track as you work towards your goals.
Think about what you want to do more of
Often, we talk about what we want to give up or stop doing. But do you ever think about what you want to replace it with? Most people don’t, which can lead to a failed resolution by the time February rolls around.
Quitting bad habits can be almost impossible when done alone. But if you substitute that habit for another habit, it becomes much easier.
Want to stop eating a block of chocolate when you’ve had a stressful day? Switch it for 10 minutes of yoga stretches when you arrive home every evening.
Want to spend less money? Focus on saving more money towards a financial goal.
Want to drink less when you go out? Find a non-alcoholic drink you can enjoy instead.