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heart v. brain 550 px

We talked about the Elephant as the representation of our heart in the Rider/Elephant/Path model from the book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard. The Elephant and our hearts are the biggest influencers on our motivation. When I work with coaching clients, it’s pretty easy to find the logical reasons for doing something. It’s also not difficult to set up some accountability structures. However, tapping into the emotional purpose sometimes takes some digging.

First, it can be difficult on our own to find the emotional purpose for an action or task when we are stuck in our own Frame of Reference. Earlier, we talked about asking ourselves why we want to do or accomplish something again and again until we get an answer that resonates with our hearts. Sometimes it’s clear and easy. Other times, it takes some work. A friend who is a good listener can help, but a life coach is trained to ask the questions that will get to your most basic and motivating reason to do something.

If an item has shown up on your New Year’s resolution list more than once, you probably haven’t found a reason to do it that resonates with your heart. I see in my clients that it is a “should.” They feel that they should do it, but they don’t really want to. Usually we work together and find the core need that would be met by accomplishing the goal. Sometimes, they realize that it isn’t their goal in the first place; it’s someone else’s goal for them that they’ve taken on. It’s a “should” that they can forget about.

There are other ways to activate your heart and get it engaged in the process. One way is to identify your values and priorities. A goal isn’t motivating if it isn’t aligned with our values and priorities. It’s worth taking a few minutes to figure those out.

Values are traits and characteristics, like honesty and integrity. Priorities are areas of our lives that are important to us, like family and career. Values usually stay the same throughout our lives. Priorities change as we move through the different phases of our lives.

So when I am looking for reasons to accomplish a goal, I need to make sure that the goal in alignment with my values and current priorities. If it’s not, then I need to rethink the goal. If it is, then I need to know which values and priorities – and why.

I have had “write daily” on my New Year’s resolution list for decades! I wanted to write but didn’t make the time. I was in full-on family mode, and writing felt like something that took some of my time that was so precious back then. I also dealt with my inner critic, who said that I wasn’t a good writer and that there wasn’t a reason to write. I’d never be a successful author, so there wasn’t a point. I also a had an external critic in the house who didn’t like my writing style. I wanted to write but wasn’t motivated enough to do it.

Now it’s different. I have a structure or Path clearly set up. I publish a blog every Tuesday, and a lot of people notice if I don’t. I have to explain to a few coach friends why I missed the deadline.

I also know that writing once a week helps my business by getting my message out in front of people. No one knows what I know unless I tell them. The blog is a basic piece of accelerating my business. Very logical reasons my Rider likes.

However, neither of those things happened for years because I didn’t have the heart for it. Now I do. First, my health isn’t fantastic. I have platinum coils in my brain that give me some weird symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, and an irregular heartbeat. The symptoms come and go, but the important thing about the whole situation is that I’ve been reminded of just how mortal I am.

I had a huge shift in how I view the world. My time is finite. It’s true of all of us, but there is nothing like a near-death experience to bring that fact home. Facing my mortality made me question my effect on the world. Was I leaving it better than I found it? I had a renewed sense of purpose in helping others create the life that made them feel happy and satisfied. I’d seen the positive effects of the skills that I teach on people’s lives.

Then, along came a granddaughter. Someone who owns my heart. I realized that I would be long gone before she became interested in communication, conflict resolution and motivation. I desperately want her to have these skills available. I know that there is hope that she will be interested at some time. Her father and his brother have recently begun to ask me questions about what I teach and coach. They were in their late 20s when they started asking me about the leadership concepts that I teach.

Now, I have my heart reason for writing. It isn’t an academic exercise that catalogues what I know. It’s a legacy for a group of people who I adore. In writing, I leave the wisdom that I have gained for children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren! I know that I will be much more interesting to future generations when I’m dead. I want to leave them something interesting.

Could I have found a motivating reason earlier in my life? Probably. I could have dug in with a coach and figured it out, but I didn’t. The writing goal wasn’t in line with my current priorities of family and working with Army families.

The bottom line is, can you find a reason that motivates you to make achieving your goal a priority? Does it mean enough to you to put it ahead of other tasks that lay claim to your time? If the answer is yes, then you’ve found your heart’s motivation.

For a little bit of fun leadership development, join 53 Leadership Challenges KathyStoddardTorrey.com.

Want to go further with your professional development? Check out the courses offered at PositiveEffectLeadership.com.

If you are interested in taking your career to the next level quickly, contact me for a sample coaching session at KSTorrey@tapferconsulting.com.