Motivation—It comes in all sizes and shapes. The interesting thing is, though you can ponder what your motivation should be to accomplish something you really can’t conjure it up to fit in that mold.

Motivation just is. You can try to discover your motivation, but changing it seems almost impossible. You can, however, tap into it. It is there, you just have to find it.

Climber on sunsetOne thing about is certain, if you want to change a habit or behavior, you need motivation.

Kelly McGonigal in The Willpower Instinct talks about it this way. She says there are three types of power—“I will” power, “I won’t” power and “I want” power. Although all three are powerful, the “I want” power is the strongest and can override the other two.

“It keeps track of your goals and desires,” McGonigal says. “It decides what you want. The more rapidly its cells fire, the more motivated you are to take action or resist temptation.”

The key to “I want” power is to discover that long-term goal that captures your imagination. Placing that firmly in your mind can override I will eat that donut or I won’t go exercise. The more primitive versions of ourselves are the I will eat that donut because I’m hungry or I won’t climb up that mountain because I might fall.

These can be helpful in certain situations, but they are mostly impulsive and must be controlled by our long-term goals and desires. In other words, we need those to reign in the impulses.

Many people who lose weight because a husband or wife want them to fail miserably even if they are deeply in love with their spouse. When we do something because another wants us to, it sets up a barrier to our progress. No one person can be with us all the time.

We have to have a buy-in on the “I want” scale. We have to own it. That means we have to have some kind of investment in it.

Even though I love my husband and children dearly, just wanting to be alive was not enough to activate the “I want” power in my life.

The bottom line is we are all pretty self-centered. So the motivation has to be something that benefits our current life. Of course, it would be a pretty lonely existence without our loved ones around, however the motivation has to go deep to the core of who we are and what we want out of life. Just being around for some reason isn’t all that motivating. By the time we need to make our change, our life is so miserable we’d rather not be here in the shape we’re in.

To obtain motivation, we have to answer the question, “What do I want?” What do I want to have accomplished while here on earth? This question is deeper than I want to be remembered for loving my family or God. Although that may be a part of it, it must say what my unique contribution is to that.

For years, I said I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. That is a pretty nebulous statement. How exactly did I want to do that?

I knew, but it sounded pretty self-serving to say that I wanted to write books. Essentially, though, that is at the core of who I am and what I do. I’m a writer. Writers write.

The next question, then, becomes what is keeping me from writing books? In reality, it was lack of self-confidence, an overload of sugar and starches in my body making my brain foggy and an extreme amount of weight making me constantly tired.

I said I didn’t have time to write. In actuality my brain wouldn’t focus on what I wanted to write. I could write stories about others. That didn’t take much effort. I was trained to do that.

Writing something from the core of me, though, meant I had to become much healthier than I was. That became the motivation for me losing weight and getting healthy.

During this time, I’d say I was getting healthy for my family. It sounded more acceptable to do it for them than for me.

Bottom line is this, you can’t love others if you don’t take care of yourself. So be honest and get all your cards out on the table.

When you begin to accomplish what only you can accomplish, your family and friends will begin to appreciate you more and connect with you on a deeper level.

So let’s be honest, what do you want? Really, what do you want to do or have? If you figure that out, you will be able to say who you want to be.

Back in 1994 when I weighed 430 pounds, I said I wanted to write books that make a difference in people’s lives. In order to do that, I said I want to be a whole, healthy, happy woman.

In my life the overlap between these two areas blows me away. I had to become healthy in order to write the book that is making a difference in people’s lives. If you had told me 20 years ago that would be how it would play out, I would have laughed at you.

If you had told me then that people would want me to speak to their group or be interviewed on television and radio about how I lost weight, I would have told you, you were insane.

And yet, look what God has done in me today. God is always the bottom line. He’s always working in our lives to make the “I want” come alive and in line with His want.

I’ve talked to people who, like me, have allowed lies from their childhood to override their wanst. If that is you, you must renounce the lies even if they are rooted in those you love dearly.

For instance, if you had a family member you loved who was extremely overweight, it is not disrespectful to them for you to choose to be healthy.

Find what you really want. Identify and forgive the things that are holding you back. Become who you were designed to be, a person whose very bones vibrate with life! Allow God to change your motivation to everything it should be. He knows. Listen to Him.

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!” Proverbs 3:5-8, MSG


Sweet Grace Study will be held on Thursdays, 6:30-8:00 p.m., starting March 6 in Columbia, MO. For more information, please send me an email. I will add you to the list to receive information.

You will need a copy of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor and Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction. These are available by clicking on the links above or at the class the first night.

Teresa Shields Parker
Teresa Shields Parker is a Christian weight loss author, coach and speaker, who has lost more than 250 pounds. Her book, "Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor", is the number 1 Christian Weight Loss Memoir on Amazon. Her other books include: "Sweet Journey to Transformation: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Live Healthy", "Sweet Freedom: Losing Weight and Keeping It Off With God's Help", "Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation" and "Sweet Hunger: Developing an Appetite for God".

She also offers Overcomers Christian Weight Loss Academy and VIP one-on-one coaching program, both available under the weight loss tab. To book Teresa for your next event, check the Speaking tab on her website. Also check out her blog and Sweet Grace for Your Journey podcast under the tabs by those names.