I was listening to the Tim Ferriss Podcast this Monday morning and he was interviewing Daniel Pink. About halfway through the episode, Tim asked Daniel to describe Motivational Interviewing.
Daniel said that Motivational Interviewing is a therapeutic technique that he learned from a friend at the Yale School of Medicine. The technique is very simple and Daniel thinks that it can be applied to nearly anything that someone can be struggling with, whether it be motivation for going to the gym or trying to get a kid motivated for an algebra test.
The technique doesn’t have to be applied by an external source and Tim notes that it can be great for those that journal their thoughts and experiences. I agree with Tim - this is a great addition to anyone’s daily notes and journaling and it’s a quick, simple and effective way to root out one’s desires and motivations for accomplishing any task.
The Algebra Example
So the Algebra example basically goes like this:
Jack’s not doing well in Algebra and his parents and teachers don’t know how to get him to sit down and study for his upcoming exam. They’ve tried to bribe him and they’ve tried to force him to study but nothing works.
They decide to give him a “Motivational Interview.” So they sit down with Jack and ask him: "on a scale of 1-10, how motivated are you to do well on this upcoming Algebra exam?” Jack replies, “3 out of 10”.
The following question is the key to this technique, Jack’s parents ask him, “why are you a 3 out of 10 and not a 2 out of 10?” Notice that Jack’s parents have turned the tables on what one might expect - you’d normally anticipate a demanding conversation where Jack’s parents berate him with questions about why he’s not a 9 out of 10 or a 10 out of 10 as far as motivation goes - school is important to them and is the only thing that should matter in Jack’s life, right?
But Jack’s parents know better, they know the motivational interviewing technique and they apply this kind of “reverse psychology” to Jack and ask him why he doesn’t have even less motivation to do well on the Algebra exam. By doing this, Jack now has to think of reasons why he’s motivated enough to be a 3 and why he even cares at all about the Algebra exam.
Jack could have all kinds of answers for why he’s a 3 and not a 2:
- “I want to pass the class so I can graduate later on”
- “If I do poorly on this test, I’ll probably do poorly on the following tests”
- etc etc etc.
Jack has just listed all of the reasons why he should be motivated to do well on the test and he has now brought those motivations to the forefront of his mind.
The Gym Example
The gym example is really applicable to a lot of people and I actually asked myself this same series of questions to figure out how motivated I am to work out and why I am motivated to do so. I also recommend writing this down, writing things down really solidifies your responses and allows you a better perspective into your own line of thinking.
Just ask yourself, “On a scale of 1-10, how motivated am I to go to the gym today?”
You write, “I’m a 4 out of 10”. Then ask yourself, “Why aren’t I a 3 out of 10?”
Again you write:
- “I’m not a 3 out of 10 because I want to lose weight and look better before the summer is here.”
- “I’m not a 3 out of 10 because I want to live a healthy lifestyle and live longer and happier.”
- “I’m not a 3 out of 10 because a part of me actually enjoys working out.”
- “I’m not a 3 out of 10 because after I work out, I always feel 10x better than when I started.”
- etc etc etc.
I urge you to try the technique yourself. You can either share your responses in the comments below, or keep them to yourself if you’d rather not share your responses. You can just run through the technique in your head, but I recommend writing it down - writing things down makes everything clearer and more solid. Also, if you ever confront the same issue, you can go back to the responses you gave previously and re-learn your motivations for doing something!! Happy Monday!
Here's the Question of The Day, don't forget to post your answers in the comments!
Did you try the Motivational Interviewing technique on a task that's pestering you in life right now? Do you find yourself with a clearer motivational picture of why you should do whatever it is that you're trying to get motivation for?
Thanks for reading! Don't forget to leave your thoughts below and I look forward to seeing you in the comments!