Finding the Why

Why make a major lifestyle change?

Finding our why will enhance motivation and produce a concise, memorable mission statement that will ensure victory over our bad habits.

Conflicting desires

Let’s say that a person wants to quit drinking alcohol for 40 days, but five days into the process he craves a drink. On one hand, he desires something down the road: the future benefit that comes from quitting alcohol. On the other hand, he suffers from the desire for the immediate gratification of having a drink, right now. 

Here’s his dilemma in a nutshell: delayed gratification vs. immediate gratification.

One of the primary learning objectives for those wanting to break a bad habit is learning to delay instant gratification in pursuit of future benefits. 

Two competing desires, one for something better in the future and the other for immediate gratification duke it out. Simply put, the stronger desire always wins. Our task as therapists is to help the person feel more strongly about the future benefits of breaking the habit.

Finding the Why

Why is this man wanting to quit alcohol for 40 days? We’ll ask that and more to get to the bottom of his motivation, like so:

Therapist: Why do you want to quit alcohol for 40 days?

Client: It’s hurting my productivity at work.

Therapist: Why do you want to be more productive at work?

Client: Our company depends on me and I need the paycheck

Therapist: Why do you need the paycheck?

Client: My family depends on me to provide for them.

Therapist: How will your family benefit from you quitting alcohol?

Client: I spend more quality time with them and we’re more active when I’m not drinking.

Therapist: Why do you want more quality time with them?

Client: They need their dad, right now.

Therapist: Let me make sure I’m hearing you right, you’re company depends on you to successfully complete multiple projects and alcohol is getting in the way of you doing your best?

Client: Ya, that’s right.

Therapist: Your kids need you and when you’re not drinking you spend more quality time with them?

Client: Absolutely.

Bottom line

We use this interview technique to get to the bottom of his motivation and summarize it in a concise mission statement, so to speak.

The mission statement: He’s quitting alcohol because his company depends on him to be at his best and his children need more quality time with him.