Motivation is a mysterious thing. I'm pretty sure we have all had moments of being hyper-motivated as well as downright lazy. We start out a day, week, or month, with plan and goals we want to achieve. However, sometimes we don't quite make the cut. I think it is very important to assess your goals and confidence in your abilities to achieve these goals. Planning is key, but where some people miss out is the confidence aspect, or what we in the nutrition/behavioral science field call "self-efficacy." Self-efficacy is the belief that you are actually capable of achieving what you set out to achieve. How can we increase self-efficacy and, in turn, increase our motivation and chances of achieving our goals? Well, read my rambles below to find out what I think!
"What you get by achieving your goals is as important as what you become by achieving them." -Thoreau
I've always been a big goal setter/planner. Ever since I was in elementary school, I would make lists, plans, and schedules as to how I was to attack the day, whether my goal was to reach a certain page in the book I was reading or reaching milestones in a 20-page research paper. I would put myself on a study schedule and would follow it to the letter. However, when I would fail at a goal, it would really lower my confidence in my ability to achieve other goals. It would be like a domino effect. There is a saying I heard once that has stuck with me: "one good decision leads to another." Well, this is true about bad decisions as well! The more bad decisions we make, the less confidence we have in our ability to make good decisions, and the harder it becomes to make these good decisions. What is really hard though, is when you really DO want the goal that you set out to begin with, but you seem to be on a conveyer belt, staring at your destination getting smaller and smaller as you move backwards and father away. I've been there, as I'm sure you all have too!
Self-efficacy is a concept taught to be key to achieving your goals, whether your goals are in health, nutrition, or any other aspect of your life. As a Christian, I have comfort in the fact that my confidence is from the Lord. My ability to achieve my goals is because "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." (Phil. 4:13). What a relief and joy that is! But what God has also impressed upon my heart is to think about why I want to achieve the goals that I have. We may want to lose weight, be a certain size, get a certain job, or save a certain amount of money. But we won't successfully achieve any of those things without the WHY behind it. I believe the WHY of your goal is the first step towards self-efficacy, or God-efficacy as I would like to call it. That is definitely something I just made up, but I think I'll stick to it! God-efficacy is the belief that GOD will help me and strengthen me to achieve my goals. The WHY for these goals must be centered on how these goals will draw me closer to God and make me more able to do the work He has called me to do.
Back to the Thoreau quote, I believe that the journey to achieving our goals must draw us into a closer relationship with God and pull us into His love and purpose for our lives. For example, if our goal is to get a higher paying job, we must evaluate why we want this job. If it is just because of the higher pay, that is not necessarily a bad thing, but how will we use this bigger blessing? Will we spend it on material possessions, or use it to help the people around us who need it? Or, if our goal is weight loss and health, will we flaunt our new body and become vain and cocky when achieving this goal? Or will we use this weight loss and health journey as a lesson in self-control and reliance on God, allowing Him to help us make healthier choices that will make us more energetic and effective in our relationships, families, and church communities? It's definitely something to think about...
I encourage you all to think about and evaluate your goals. Once we focus on the WHY behind our goals and realize that the journey is just as important as achieving the goal, we are more likely to find success in all that we attempt to achieve. The journey is part of the process, and finding our strength in God and His perfect efficacy is a way to surrender our goals and desires to Him and allow Him to work in us to achieve whatever we do unto His glory!