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Motivation, Systems, Habits, Virtue and Cultivating Positive Changes [Activity]

Motivation, Systems, Habits, Virtue and Cultivating Positive Changes [Activity]

  • If you could change anything about your life, what would it be?

  • What steps can you take to achieve the change that you want to see?

This post will help you to understand why it's so hard to make lasting changes and what you can do to be successful in directing your life as you wish.


Note: Please read this post slowly and carefully with a meditative mindset. Answer for yourself each question, preferably by writing it in your journal. Pause and meditate on the concepts as they are presented. In the end, spend a few minutes thinking about how this information can be used to make your life better.

Change is a process not a goal

The common advice is to focus on the goals that we wish to achieve in life. To be married, to have a great job, to have children, to buy a house, to buy a car, etc. however these achievements are results not methods of accomplishing things. Unless you have the method you will not achieve the goal. How then can you get what you want out of life?

Imagine a beautiful garden, carefully cultivated, well balanced, well managed. How did that garden get like that? No doubt some planning and goals were involved however it was the sustained and coordinated actions of the gardener over many years that created the garden.

Creating positive changes in our life requires us to implement deliberate processes. We didn't get to where we are or have what we have without following some path, knowingly or unknowingly. Was our path laid out for us or did we carefully and consciously choose our path? Have we become lost, without a clear path?

As children our path is naturally laid out for us by our parents. At some point however we become responsible for our choices. Ideally our parents should help us to develop sufficient Agency to thrive in the environment that we live in. Sadly, this is often not the case. Far to many people have under developed Agency.

Even with Agency we still need to know how to direct ourselves so as to become the person that we wish to be. We need to understand the process of creating positive changes.

Creating change requires 4 steps:

  1. Building motivation and selfdissipline enables the application of systems in our life.

  2. Applying systems in our lives creates habits.

  3. Consistent habits lead to the development of virtue.

  4. Virtue leads to positive changes (outcomes) in our lives.

What can we learn from these steps?

It is valuable to know the general goal, the end result or outcome that we want to achieve. That indicates to us the virtues that we need to develop and helps us to be motivated. Once you know the goal, whats next?

Ask yourself:

  • What virtues will I need to habitually display in order to achieve the outcomes that I desire?

  • What habits should I cultivate to develop the virtues I need?

  • What systems can I implement to cultivate virtue forming habits?

  • How can I keep myself motivated and disciplined to implement habit forming systems?

But I don't know exactly what I want to do with my life?

Not knowing what you want in the long term isn't really a problem. You will know what you want when the time is right, when you get to the place of making decisions. When unsure about the exact outcome you seek focus instead on what type of a person you want to be and the virtues that you need to develop to be that person.

This is especially relevant for younger people. How can you know what your life will bring in 10 or 20 years? No matter what you will do with your life certain timeless and universal virtues will be vital for a happy and successful life.

Ask yourself:

  • What type of person will I need to be in the future?

  • What virtues will I need to cultivate to have a better life now and in the future?

When you have chosen 2 or 3 primary virtues to work on you can use steps 1 to 3 above to develop them.

I don't have enough time...

“It's not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste much of it.

Life is long enough, and it's been given to us in generous measure for accomplishing the greatest things, if the whole of it is well invested. But when life is squandered through soft and careless living, and when it's spent on no worthwhile pursuit, death finally presses and we realize that the life which we didn't notice passing has passed away.

So it is: the life we are given isn't short but we make it so; we're not ill provided but we are wasteful of life. Just as impressive and princely wealth is squandered in an instant when it passes into the hands of a poor manager, but wealth however modest grows through careful deployment if it is entrusted to a responsible guardian, just so our lifetime offers ample scope to the person who maps it out well.” – Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

We don't have many years, but we have enough time. The key is to avoid squandering it by cultivating good time management systems and habits.

Ask yourself:

  • What am I doing that is really important to me?

  • What am I doing that is preventing me from spending more time on what really important to me?

  • What can I do about my time wasters?

Suggested reading: Mastering Your Schedule With Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

In conclusion

Let your life be like the garden mentioned earlier. Focus on cultivating the motivation, systems, habits and virtue that will make your life beautiful and a joy for everyone who shares it.

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