I really love watching TED Talks on motivation, but I actually have learned the most from the book Change Anything. It explains why motivating ourselves can be so hard and goes through simple steps of how to fix them. You'll have to read the book for the full effect, but here's a snippet from a summary I wrote for class last winter.
“When people believe that their ability to make good choices stems from nothing more than their willpower – and that willpower is a quality they’re either born with or they’re not – they eventually stop trying altogether."
This is the trap that so many of us fall into-- making goals and getting stuck in a downward cycle of not keeping them and then becoming discouraged when we continue to fail. The book reframes the idea of willpower, saying it is not an unchangeable trait, but a skill that can be refined. We are outnumbered and blinded by all the outward forces trying to bring us down. These range from carpet patterns in casinos to peppy music in buffets. But when we pay attention to the problem and outward influences, we are able to apply the solution better. As we come to better understand what works for us and against us, we will be able to overcome challenges and become active agents in our lives.
It then goes on to outline the following six principles of action: 1) Love What you Hate; 2) Do What you Can’t; 3-4) Turn Accomplices into Friends; 5) Invert the Economy; and 6) Control Your Space.
“Love What You Hate” works with changing personal motivation. Instead of promising to make good but hard choices tomorrow — denying every urge to sleep in, eat sweets, or indulge — it is better to shift the paradigm so that a future self becomes the present reality. Learning about the realities of making good choices, using value words to understand and establish your motivations, enjoying the journey, and creating a personal motivation statement all play a part in loving the tasks ahead.
“Do What You Can’t” puts motivation into action and increases ability to follow through on seemingly unachievable or undesirable tasks. Different strategies are formed to overcome internal weaknesses, mainly utilizing present abilities (such as responding well to peer pressure, searching for bargains, etc.), perfecting practices, and developing.
“Turn Accomplices into Friends” creates a positive and encouraging network around you. Many addictive habits are done in a social setting. This principle flips social situations from being a trap to a strength by enabling the people you spend time with to help you on the road to health, happiness, and success. At the same time, readers are challenged to stop making external comparisons, make their goals clear to their social networks, and add friends to help them along the way.
“Invert the Economy” deals with incentives in moderation. Excessive or grandiose rewards can hinder real progress in changing. In addition, traditional incentives are reversed to focus on loss aversion rather than reward gaining, relying on the concept that we are much more likely to protect something of value at risk than to solely be motivated by future prizes and rewards.
Finally, “Control Your Space” demands that readers take charge of their surrounding environment. Choosing to avoid tempting situations, “[keeping] good things close…and bad things distant,” using tools, and creating reminders about your goals all assist in achieving goals. This step should not be used instead of the 6-source plan, but can used in conjunction with the other principles for a successful endeavor.
(I know they have this book in the BYU library, and I assume you can find in your local library if you're not at BYU.)
As for feeling discouraged, I would start with this. It's an inspiring story and a reminder that we can have a broken body but a whole soul. The wholeness from within allows us to be more than conquerers over our physical limitations.
But even with reminders, you may still feel like you are broken at times. I've seen it happened to others and I know I've felt this from my own health challenges. For me, the dynamic, destructive duo of depression and anxiety make life quite unbearable sometimes. Because of how much they affect my ability to process, reason, trust, hope, function properly, and move forward, it often feels like my soul is broken and not just my body. As if I, as a whole, am useless, not just parts of me. It can be difficult, as it is now, to understand how God could allow an imperfection that seems to obstruct every desire to do what He has asked. Sometimes the hate I have for my struggle disables me more than the depression itself.
Feelings like this are real. I think it's okay to acknowledge and understand them. As a wise Board writer once said, "It's okay to be sad about sad things." But as real as they are, and as hard as it is for me to admit right now, they aren't true. God has promised to make us strong when we encounter weakness. I used to think that meant my weakness would be taken away and replaced with strength; I thought that weakness and strength were opposite and could not coexist. I'm learning that God can make us strong in our weakness. The humility and sorrow allows us to connect with other people and truly appreciate all that our Savior has done for us.
I don't know you personally, but I do know that you are not useless, physically or otherwise. I hope some of what I've written can help. Please don't hesitate to email me if you'd ever like to talk more.