Discovering Motivation to Change: Do you have a bad habit that you want to change? Do you find that no matter what you try, you keep falling back into the same patterns and doing the same negative behaviors over and over again?  Are your friends, family or spouse on you back to get you to stop or change your behavior? If so then this tips is for you! In this tip you will learn a technique that you can use to evaluate your motivation to change your behavior. This tip consists of an exercise designed to evaluate your reasons for wanting to change, how you would feel about changing, your reasons for continuing your behavior, and how you would feel about continuing.

Use this motivation to change tip and exercise if you have in mind a clearly defined behavior that you want to change but are struggling with motivation to do so.  This is designed to help you identify whether or not you’re ready to change, not why or how to.  Everyone has within themselves the power and the means to change, however; if you’re not ready, you will have a hard time finding and channeling that power.  This exercise is therefore developed to help you evoke your concerns about changing and to analyze them alongside your motivations.  That way you can nurture your hope and optimism that change is possible.  Remember, the key to successfully analyzing motivation is to keep focused on whether to change rather than on how or why to change.  Focusing on the how or why will only bring pressure and we don’t want to harvest pressure or develop a plan just yet, right now your goal is to understand where your motivation lies for changing.

To begin this motivation to change exercise you will start by taking a piece of plain paper and folding it in half two times: once wide-ways and once long ways.  Open the paper and write headings over top of each “box.”  Starting with the left-hand side top box and moving clockwise, label the boxes: Reasons to keep doing what I’m doing, how I feel about keeping this behavior, Reasons to change, and how I feel about changing my behavior. Next, fill in the boxes.  Use the questions and suggestions in the lists below to complete your own motivational chart.

Reasons to keep doing what I’m doing.

  • What are your goals?
  • Are your behaviors helping you get there? What would happen if you did not change?
  • Is this a behavior you can live with?
  • How long have you been doing it?
  • List any barriers to change.
  • Will it be hard or easy to stop?
  • Have you tried to stop before?
  • When, why, and with whom did you start? How has this behavior been a comfort for you in times of need?
  • Feel free to add anything to this list!


How I feel about keeping this behavior.

  • Fill in all the feelings you have about answering those questions in the reasons to keep doing what I’m doing box.
  • Do you feel happy about your behavior? Does it make you angry?
  • Are you stressed?
  • Do you like it?
  • Is change too scary or hard right now?
  • Does your behavior bring you closer to friends and family?
  • Do you want to keep it?
  • Feel free to add anything to this list!


Reasons to change.

  • What are your goals?
  • Are your behaviors helping you get there?
  • What would be the consequence or payoff?
  • Who would be happiest about the change?
  • Will it be hard or easy to stop?
  • Have you tried to stop before?
  • When and why did you try to stop?
  • What worked and what didn’t?
  • Do you have support right now?
  • List all the supports and strengths you have for change right now.
  • What will life be like without the behavior?
  • How is this behavior hurting or impeding your desired life style?
  • Feel free to add anything to this list!


How I feel about changing.

  • Fill in all the feelings you have about answering those questions in the reasons to change box.
  • Are you scared?
  • Are you excited?
  • Will you feel better about yourself?
  • Is this a good time?
  • Does your behavior make you sad?
  • Are you lonely because of it?
  • Do you even want to quit/change?
  • Are you ready?
  • Do you feel pressure to change?
  • Is that pressure good and motivating or negative and stressful?
  • Feel free to add anything to this list!


Be honest and open with yourself. Don’t judge your answers, go with your gut.  Try not to put down reasons that your family and friends have for you to change or to keep your behavior. Honestly write down YOUR reasons and YOUR feelings.  If you want to stop something because you will be healthier but feel scared to stop because you’ve done it for so long, put it all down!  No one will judge you because you’re afraid how change will affect you or your family and friends.  Change is scary and difficult, but being open and honest with yourself about feeling scared and worried will make your motivation grow and your likelihood of success will go up.  After you fill in this chart, you have a decision to make.  Your next step will be to look at all four boxes objectively, this is where a close friend, loved one, or therapist can come in handy.  Read and re-read all your answers and feelings. Discuss them.  Give each statement, feeling or entire box a rating from 1 to 10; where 1 is “I BARELY feel or believe this statement at all,” and 10 is “This is EXACTLY how I feel.” Tally up your rankings.  If you find that the reasons to change box has a higher ranking, you are probably ready to make a change in your behavior.  If the feelings you have about keeping your behavior has the highest, you may wish to re-evaluate the reasons to change and delay your change till your feel more prepared.  Don’t worry if the chart shows that you’re not ready for the “right” decision right now. If you’re not ready, you’re simply not ready.  Trying to force a change when you’re just not ready for it will cause extra stress and will likely cause you to slip into old, bad habits again.  Take some time and reassess in a few weeks.  Remember this exercise is designed to help you evaluate whether or not you are ready to change right now, NOT how or why to change overall