Microlearning: Supercharge Your Learning By Doing Less

By | Education, Food for thought, learning, Motivation, self, self-development

It’s never been easier to learn. 

The internet is always one click or swipe away, full of any information you can dream of. There are YouTube channels that condense sophisticated concepts, podcasts played at twice the speed, easy-to-follow online or courses, and even next-day delivery on paper books, if you prefer the old-school approach.

Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates went as far as to say: “There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.” Although that might be an oversimplification to prove a point, there’s no denying a thirst for knowledge is a good thing. But like everything in life, there is a catch. With so much information at your fingertips, where do you begin? What does effective learning look like anyway? 

In this article, we’ll guide you through microlearning, an approach to knowledge that focuses on short bursts of focus. The stereotype of hours and hours hunched over a mountain of textbooks doesn’t have to be the case, and thanks to microlearning, you can make great progress while having fun. 

Here’s how.

What is a microlearning strategy?

The way that people consume content has changed through the use of modern technology. 

When studying a topic, whether you’re doing some corporate learning or studying in school, you might move between a brief video on YouTube, a concise blog post, reading a long-form textbook, or looking at graphics that present complex topics in visual form.

micro learning
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Content is available in a multitude of forms, to suit a diverse selection of learning (or E-learning) styles.

Studying in short bursts

The micro in microlearning applies to how short spells of study are. 

Talent professionals consider 13 minutes to be the maximum amount of time for microlearning. Effective lengths range from 10 minutes, to between two and five minutes. That’s a noticeable difference compared to old-school education set-ups, where lectures might last an hour or more.

Information presented with microlearning is highly specific. Unlike conventional learning, microlearning breaks topics down to the essentials. For example, think of how a search engine works: if you’re interested in productivity, you might search for “productivity tips for remote workers,” or something equally niche. Because of millions and millions of results online, you’re then presented with a blog post that covers that exact subtopic, without having to spend hours researching productivity in general.

The popularity of mobile apps has made microlearning even more efficient. Gamification, in particular, is often used in conjunction with microlearning. Gamification is the process of adding gameplay elements to non-gaming environments, allowing users to pick up new skills in bite-sized chunks, whilst having fun at the same time. 

A great example of that is using an app, such as DuoLingo, for learning a new language. Bite sized courses and other traditional Elearning courses encourages learners to build their skill development and to enjoy it at the same time! What’s more, by combining these short bursts of learning with an effective time blocking strategy can benefit learners even more.

How effective are microlearning strategies? 

The question is, can microlearning really replace hours of study? 

You won’t necessarily use microlearning to earn a Ph.D., but for many causes, particularly workplace training and job aids, microlearning is incredibly effective. In fact, an organization’s microlearning strategy, or an alternative, gamification, can keep learners engaged for better than traditional learning environments. 

Gamification built by instructional designers has been found to increase performance rates by 35 percent. Learners prefer these upgrades, and with many services, content is refined for maximum efficiency thanks to machine learning and artificial intelligence.

One of our favorite microlearning examples from pop culture is DuoLingo, which is always studying the best scientific approaches to language learning. They discovered that 34 hours on their platform is the equivalent of a full university semester, showing the power of microlearning content. 

microlearning examples
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It’s worth noting if you use the app to get access to these “knowledge nuggets” for 10 minutes per day, you can achieve this success in just six months. Microlearning focuses the mind in pretty amazing ways! 

Other studies have found that microlearning helps to avoid fatigue that comes from learning new information with traditional e-learning. Not only that, but the variety of media used with microlearning, and short lessons, support the process of integrating knowledge from short-term to long-term memory, improving retention rates. 

In one study with primary school students, microlearning led to an 18 percent increase in efficiency when compared to traditional methods.

Benefits of microlearning

Although a relatively new method, microlearning already has a wealth of research to demonstrate its benefits. That’s due to its basis in cognitive science, which explores the role of the brain during learning processes, and the ways to optimize information retention. 

One of the biggest neuroscientific “hacks” of microlearning is making most of the “spacing effect,” which has been shown to boost memory retention, ahead of cramming masses of information all at once.

Away from the scientific benefits, microlearning has multiple benefits for those looking to boost their knowledge or learn new skills:


There’s a difference between learning a language to become fluent when arriving in a new country, and spending free time using a language app in preparation for a vacation. Getting to grips with certain areas of study can be immensely time-consuming, but with microlearning, you’re able to absorb key concepts much quicker.

Ease of access

Gone are the days of having to access a physical library, borrow books, and spend time searching index pages to find relevant information. Microlearning is accessible and information is easy to find. Plus, many modern courses are made by experts who know what concepts to distill, meaning a lot of the hard work has been done for you.


Microlearning is incredibly versatile — because learning in digital format, you can learn on your mobile device.

define microlearning
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And the nature of short-term content means it’s easy to spend a couple of minutes learning something new in a brief video or app while on the daily commute, or waiting at the dentist, or on a lunch break.


Microlearning makes the most of a diverse wealth of tools, rather than long strings of text, or a traditional lecture format. With imagery, animations, and interactive elements, the overall process of learning becomes more fun and entertaining, which boosts engagement.

Enjoy a buffet of knowledge

A lot of microlearning techniques are used by employers and institutions looking to maximize engagement. But as a solo venture, microlearning is a great opportunity to test the waters and sample areas of learning, before taking a deeper dive.

Turning to another Greek philosopher, Plutarch, it’s important to remember that “the mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” In a hyperproductive culture, it’s tempting to go all-in when learning a new subject, to fill the vessel with as much information as you can find. Unfortunately, this might lead to some form of informational burnout. Microlearning is a more patient way of kindling the fire of curiosity, which, in the long run, is more likely to keep you moving towards your goals.

Microlearning: Best practices, microlearning courses and more

There’s an important distinction between self-learning for personal interest or development, or learning for a work role or career change. 

Many big companies, such as Google, provide microlearning courses where all the content is ready-made. The same applies to online courses that allow you to pick up new skills, from programming to graphic design.

what is microlearning
(Ariel Skelley / Getty)

Self-learning is different. You’re responsible for choosing which topics to cover, and it takes more planning and research before you begin. The below steps will provide a solid starting point in order to start microlearning on any topic of your choosing and will apply to both self-study and other forms.

1. Find your “why”

In the words of Viktor Frankl, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” This applies to all areas of life, including your education. Before scheduling or choosing topics, spend time considering why you want to study, why you want to learn. Are you looking to level up in your career? Are you looking to get more control over your life by learning productivity tools? Are you looking to increase your self-awareness?

Tapping into your emotional motivation will give you the best shot at a successful microlearning practice. After all, the days of sitting at the back of the class, zoning out, and wishing to be somewhere else are long gone. You’re in the driving seat. Where would you like the journey of learning to take you? For more information on goals, check out our blog SMART goals

2. Explore topics and intentions

Once you find your why, you’ll start to have an idea about what you wish to study. Clarity at this stage is essential, as it will inform how you apply microlearning to piece together various pieces of the jigsaw. So, begin with an overall view of your personal education — what skills are you looking to develop? What would you like to learn?

You might end up with a list of various topics, from nutrition to languages, to depth psychology or time management.

(Monica Bertolazzi / Getty)

Remember microlearning is all about digestible chunks — rather than trying to study everything at once, pick one or two key topics that you wish to commit to for a period of time.

3. Refine the niche

Once you have topics in mind, zoom in on the specifics to get the most out of microlearning practices. In my experience, over time you will begin to spot patterns and networks of content when you start to explore a topic. I’ve found this to be the case with psychology. You might start with a single person’s work — such as Abraham Maslow — which opens doors to other areas of study.

Begin, though, by getting specific. For example, productivity is a huge umbrella topic. If that’s on your list, you can further refine the topic. Are you looking for better time management? Tips on how to improve focus? Guidance on scheduling or structuring a to-do list to avoid overwhelm? The clearer you get on the specifics, the easier it is to identify which areas to study.

4. Consider your learning style: DIY or ready-made

Are you someone who feels comfortable working out your own “curriculum” by cherry-picking different topics? Or does your motivation and goal require a clear direction? Deciding your best course of action means looking at whether you’ll also be responsible for the topics you choose, and the overall direction of self-study.

If you do feel comfortable setting your own microlearning curriculum, start to piece together a list of topics to explore in your own time, either by online research of blogs or YouTube videos, or podcast episodes.

micro learning
(Justin Lewis / Getty)

If you need something with more structure, an option is to explore online courses whether experts in the field have already curated content.

It’s worth noting that the more familiar you are with a topic, the better idea you’ll have of what you don’t know, and what areas interest you.

5. Set a schedule

The next step is to set your microlearning schedule. How will your study fit into your calendar? This will fit into the bigger picture of how you’re structuring your time. Do you have space? How many hours per week are you looking to study? At this stage, you might notice you have free time (such as a daily commute) or see the need to carve out space.

Let’s say you choose to spend three hours per week learning a new language, and two hours on productivity. That gives you five hours of microlearning per week. How you then break this down is up to you and your schedule — will you do 30 minutes or each, five days per week? Or alternate daily?

Once you have added your microlearning practice to your calendar, defend it, and honor it. And, make sure you have a plan for when you show up to learn. Know what videos, what courses, what blog posts you’ll read in that session, so you are purposeful with the time you’ve set aside. 

In conclusion 

Microlearning combines new technology, cutting-edge science, and a diverse range of content styles to make learning easy, enjoyable, and engaging. There’s never been a better time to learn. 

define microlearning
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Now you’re equipped with microlearning practices, the next step is to fill your cup from the fountain of knowledge, and drink in the wisdom, one sip at a time, without oversaturation or information overload. So what are you waiting for? Go make Socrates proud.

High Functioning Depression: What Is It & What Are The Symptoms?

By | depression, Food for thought, mental health, Motivation, self, self-development

A common stereotype with depression is how it looks from the outside. 

Often these stereotypes are perpetuated by the media. For example, images of head in hands despair have long been linked with stories on depression or suicide, inspiring a campaign, Time to Change, to challenge these portrayals in the media.

Their campaign’s mission highlighted an important truth: “People with mental health problems don’t look depressed all the time.” So while yes, depression often is debilitating and stops people from functioning at a day-to-day level, it doesn’t always look this way. 

In fact, there’s a term for it: high-functioning depression.

What is high functioning depression?

Firstly, high functioning depression isn’t an official diagnosis. It’s a term given to people who are experiencing symptoms of depression while performing at a certain level of functionality. The difficulty with this type of depression is that it often goes undetected by friends and family, or even the person experiencing it themselves.

The closest diagnosis in the DSM-5 (the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental illnesses and mental disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association) is persistent depressive disorder. This is also known as dysthymia or chronic depression. Rather than acute and severe, this way this type of depression affects people is long-lasting.

According to Mayo Clinic, “though persistent depressive disorder is not as severe as major depression, your current depressed mood may be mild, moderate or severe.” Those with high functioning depression might maintain relationships, careers, pay the bills, build a family. But subtle feelings of disinterest, low mood, anxiety, apathy, or meaninglessness follow them around like a dark cloud.

Symptoms of high functioning depression

Because many people have internalized the misconception that depression has to look a certain way, those who experience high functioning depression might not be aware of it. 

A mental health professional might tell you that it could be that something simply “feels off,” or that happy moments in life, from big celebrations to simple joys, aren’t fully enjoyed or appreciated. 

Persistent Depressive Disorder

In the U.S., it’s estimated that around 1.5 percent of the population, close to 3 million people, feel depressed and experience persistent depressive disorder. When it comes to this type of disorder, a sign of depression is low mood that has persisted for over two years. 

Other symptoms of high functioning depression include:

  • Chronic sadness or feeling down, without an obvious cause
  • Self-esteem difficulty
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Low energy or motivation
  • Irritability and anger
  • Reduced social activity
  • Lack of or decreased appetite.
  • Poor sleep or insomnia

It’s common for people to think “I’ve got no reason to be depressed,” and to ignore chronic low mood when there’s no apparent cause. Because high functioning depression is present over a long period of time, many people even get used to, or adjust to, the symptoms, without knowing exactly when it started. 

Some people may feel that it’s just the way they are, and that they don’t need to seek treatment for a clinical diagnosis or emotional support.

How do I manage high functioning depression and boost my mental health?

I want to offer an unconventional view, one I stand by with every cell of my being. I believe depression is a great teacher, and if approached with curiosity and humility, it contains its own solutions. 

In the words of M. Scott Peck in The Road Less Travelled:

“Rather than being the illness, the symptoms are the beginning of its cure. The fact that they are unwanted makes them all the more a phenomenon of grace—a gift of God, a message from the unconscious, if you will, to initiate self-examination and repair.”

I grappled with depression for the majority of my life. At times it was more intense than others. In some peculiar way, the times when it was more intense, and really got in the way of life, were the most important, because they made me fully aware that I had to self-examine and repair. This is a catch with high functioning depression — it might not reach that tipping point, or it might take years of struggle to really begin to explore.

With that in mind, I’d like you to approach these steps with an open mind, and be willing to consider that high functioning depression has its own form of intelligence. In other words, to have faith that actually, you can learn to understand it, to grow, and heal through it. 

1. Accept its presence

Something called you to read this article. Maybe it was because you are concerned about a loved one. Or maybe there’s a part of you that suspects you’re experiencing functional depression and would like to dig a little deeper. 

That’s an incredible first step, as it shows a willingness to acknowledge where you’re at, a powerful first step in all change. By accepting that you are experiencing high functioning depression, you might feel grief, anxiety, or even relief. Start by being totally self-honest. 

The “persistent” in this version of depressive disorder is often due to the symptoms not being intrusive enough to seek immediate action. If you can acknowledge where you’re at, right now, you can take action before the symptoms increase.

2. Be honest about how high functioning depression impacts your life

The more subtle the symptoms, the more subtle the impact. Once you’ve accepted the reality of depression, the next step is to explore all the ways your life adjusts around it. Do you socialize less than you’d like to? Is your creative expression stifled? Are you unable to find joy in life’s simple pleasures? Do you lean on substance abuse to get through the days? Do you experience overeating, insomnia? 

signs of high functioning depression
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This process won’t be easy. But it will give you a clear idea of the way your life is affected and, on the flip side, the way your life will be improved once the healing process takes place. This can be used as motivation by the person struggling to get support or to place more attention and focus on doing the necessary work.

3. Consider your steps for support

The next step is to start to piece together a plan of action. 

It can be difficult to know where to begin, or what steps to take, once you acknowledge that high functioning depression is a problem. Consider getting professional support, whether through treatment programs, through talking therapy, or getting in touch with someone that can provide medical advice. Consider talking to a close friend about your experience. As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved.

This process really depends on how much you feel you’re able to work through the symptoms. Often people with severe depression need support because they’re at such a low point, daily functioning is impossible. If you feel able to do the work, then a good starting point is to look at your life from a wide perspective, to identify what could be causing it.

4. Deconstruct the experience

An issue with stigma is that it can make a diagnosis feel overwhelming, or like a life sentence. I’d encourage you to view this kind of  depression as one part of a greater whole. Don’t worry about having to pinpoint exactly why persistent low mood is there, but instead, look at different life areas, such as:


Do you have a healthy diet and avoid overconsumption of alcohol? Are you getting regular exercise? Do you monitor your screen and social media use?


Are your relationships nourishing and mutually supportive? Do you have healthy boundaries, or are you overextending due to people-pleasing? Are you expressing your needs?


Are you spending time connecting to yourself, and to nature? Are you aware of your values and guiding principles? Do you know what’s most meaningful to you in life?


Is your work fulfilling? Do you have a healthy work and life balance, or are you overworked? Do you feel supported by your team?

Emotional intelligence

Are you able to identify and process your emotions? Do you fully feel your emotions? Have you resolved grief or trauma?

This process is worthwhile for anyone. But if you’re experiencing high functioning depression, it can highlight where you need extra support from others, either through people you know, or through a professional.

In conclusion

The awareness levels around mental illness and mental health awareness is improving all the time. But there’s a long way to go, especially when it comes to misconceptions and stereotypes. 

And as important as it is for people to be aware of symptoms to understand and support others who are suffering, it’s just as important for people to be fully informed in order to make sense of their own experience.

I’m a big believer that there are always, always positive steps forward, no matter where you’re at. The basis from this “Ground Zero” is one of acceptance and compassion. But in acknowledging your experience of high functioning depression, there’s an opportunity for deeper understanding and exploration of all the factors in your life that could be contributing to this mental health condition.

Even if there’s a one percent boost by making one change, that’s a success. Even if you learn a small lesson about yourself by looking into your inner world, that’s a success. Acknowledging that you could be experiencing high functioning depression validates years of struggle, and is also a success.

Start from ground zero

Start from Ground Zero. Know that change is always possible.

what is high functioning depression
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And, most importantly, know that YOU deserve happiness and fulfillment in this life. It is possible to learn how to beat depression. Acknowledgment is the first step in moving towards that.

“The Bullies Did Me a Favour” – Woman Cruelly Bullied for Her Appearance Gets the Last Laugh

By | Food for thought, inspiring, mental health, Motivation, purpose, self-development, stories, uplifting news

At age 12, Jade Colcombe, a girl from Tonypandy, Wales, was cruelly bullied by her classmates who teased her – and sometimes threatened her – every single day.

As her peers spent their time in class, making friends and hitting the books, Jade’s life was a living hell. Little did she know that the tables would turn.

Torment 101

She was taunted and harassed by her fellow classmates and would be told she looked like a man and was made fun of for her ‘tomboy’ fashion. She recalled to the Daily Mail that it would start right from the opening bell.

”I’d walk into the room and the ‘popular’ gang would sit and snigger just because I didn’t have expensive clothes or wear make-up,” she said.

I was called ‘buck-tooth’, because of my teeth, ‘Dalmatian’, because of my beauty spots and ‘man’ because the hair on my arm was dark and noticeable.

– Jade Colcombe

“There have been times where I just felt like breaking down and crying.”

Desperate, she’d skip school and fake illness to avoid the torment. However, when it was clear it wouldn’t stop, the straight-A student quit school for a different one.

Sadly, the torment continued at her new school, with kids teasing her clothes and calling her ugly. For Colcombe, that was rock bottom.

“At my lowest point, I refused to talk to anyone because I feared that they would just laugh at me,” she admitted.

She found a new stage

Ironically, her family and friends urged Colcombe to enter the ‘Miss Radiant Photogenic UK’ pageant to help her build up her confidence and prove her haters wrong. With nothing to lose, she entered and, amazingly, won. Just like that, a switch was flipped and a queen was born.

Shortly after, Colcombe won the Miss Supermodel Great Britain title at Dream Street’s Miss United Kingdom pageant.

With that, the quiet girl had found her voice.

“For the first time at Miss UK, I actually spoke in front of an audience without getting upset or really nervous about it.”

Colcombe says that she has one special thank you for her success.

“To be honest, the bullies did me a favor.”

And now that I am entering national pageants all over the UK, I really feel like I’ve beat those bullies and proved them wrong.

– Jade Colcombe

Lean into your greatness

Next up for Colcombe: climbing 19,341-foot Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for Noah’s Ark – a children’s hospital in Wales. The cause holds a special place in her heart: Her little sister Lexi, who has an incurable form of epilepsy, was saved by doctors at the hospital after suffering several seizures.

While climbing the world’s highest free-standing mountain is a tall task, Colcombe says that she’s already conquered the worst.

I beat my bullies, so with the support of my family, beating Kilimanjaro should be no problem.

– Jade Colcombe

No one should go through what Colcombe did. Sometimes children can be really cruel. However, past that struggle is the giant inside you. With help from family and friends, one timid girl tapped into a force stronger than any taunts or teases, and now she’s unstoppable.

Whether it’s your skin color, weight, or age, don’t let anyone make you feel less than the force of nature you are.

More uplifting news:


Look beyond appearances

Physical beauty is nothing compared to a good heart.

Extrinsic Motivation: What Is It and What Are the Benefits?

By | Food for thought, mindset, Motivation, self, self-development, success

Motivation is the “why” behind human behavior. It is the energy to act, the driving force behind the things we do. 

Without this energy and desire comes a lack of inspiration, or the feeling of being unmotivated. This can lead to procrastination, a general lack of vitality, as well as less willingness to grow or seek out new and challenging opportunities. 

Human motivation is intertwined with self-development and psychology. Within the field of psychology, motivation is separated into two categories: extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation can be described as doing an activity for its inherent satisfactions rather than for some separable consequence or from fear of negative outcomes. 

Extrinsic motivation refers to an engagement in activities due to the influence of outside factors, or “extrinsic motivators,” rather than doing them for the simple feeling of satisfaction they bring. 

Examples of extrinsic motivation might include studying for a test because a fail would force you to repeat a grade, or working out early in the morning before work in order to fit into a wedding dress. Unlike intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivators are not done for their own sake.

Although studies have found intrinsic motivation to be a more effective form of motivation, extrinsic motivation has a wealth of benefits as well. In recent years, more and more studies have found its value… when used skillfully.

In this article, we’ll explore the subtleties of extrinsic motivation before providing tips on how to integrate these insights into your life. Not only will this give you a clear overview of the “why” of your behavior, it will offer steps to boost your motivation in all areas of life. What more motivation do you need to read on?

What is the definition of extrinsic motivation?

The APA Dictionary of Psychology defines extrinsic motivation as “an external incentive to engage in a specific activity, especially motivation arising from the expectation of punishment or reward (e.g., completing a disliked chore in exchange for payment).”

Extrinsic motivation is tied to the outcome. The activity isn’t performed from enjoyment itself, but because of the result the action will bring. Studies in behavioral psychology have long associated motivation with the dynamic of reward and punishment — where it was assumed people are incentivized to avoid pain or pursue some form of pleasure. 

However, recent research has shown the truth is more complex. Self-determination theory, created by Edward Deci and Richard Ryan (who created the categories of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation) explains motivation as existing on a spectrum. Extrinsic motivation is separated into four groups:

  • External regulation (external): Activities are carried out purely to satisfy external demands, such as requests from a boss or instructions from a teacher, or for external rewards. It lacks freedom or willingness.
  • Introjected regulation (somewhat external): Activities carried out due to external pressure, such as avoiding feelings of guilt or shame, or looking to attain ego-enhancements or pride. Although internally driven (and psychological in nature), it still feels restrictive or lacking willingness. 
  • Identified regulation (somewhat internal): This action is more autonomous, due to finding personal importance in an activity. For example, a child studying for a spelling test because they see the overall value of writing. Although requests or demands to act are external, identified regulation has an element of willingness due to an interest in personal growth.
  • Integrated regulation (internal): This is the overlap between extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation. Integration occurs when someone has fully internalised extrinsic factors, and now takes on the activity fully as their own. This is the most desirable form of extrinsic motivation.

These behaviors move up the scale in terms of how much the person experiences a sense of freedom or autonomy in their behaviour. The first feels completely outside of control, the last feels harmonious, and borderline intrinsic. In experimenting with these above types of extrinsic motivation, Ryan and Connell (1989) referred to this scale as the “continuum of relative autonomy.” 

The value of extrinsic motivation, then, is related to this degree of autonomy.

The difference between internal and external motivation

extrinsic motivation
(Seiya Kawamoto/Getty)

To be clear, extrinsic isn’t the same as external

Not all rewards are located in the outside world, but rather, exist as inner experiences or feelings. Internal rewards are psychological, while external rewards are tangible, such as money or a certificate of study. Intrinsic motivation is driven by internal reward, including the joy of the task alone. Extrinsic motivation can be driven by internal rewards, external rewards, or a mix of both.

If you’re on the path of self-development and are interested in exploring the reasons behind your behavior, noticing this difference requires reflection and self-awareness. That’s because it might appear you’re intrinsically motivated, when in reality, there is confusion between the internal reward you’re expecting to receive once the task is complete.

Using some personal data as an example, I’ve noticed there have been times where I’ve written articles that, unconsciously, I was looking for some form of validation or praise. It wasn’t my only motivation to write (it’s a practice I find highly rewarding). But at times, when I write a piece that I’m proud of, and the response is less than expected, I become aware of my inner desire for external rewards.

The creative process can be a liberating and joyful experience. But once that creative work is released into the world, the ego can hijack the process, and seek acclaim.

Extrinsic motivators: a closer look

The most common example of extrinsic motivation with a tangible reward is working for money. Many people work in jobs they don’t love due to the guarantee of a paycheck at the end of the month, with the salary, and the security it provides, being enough incentive to turn up each day and work. In terms of internal rewards, or psychological rewards, someone might work in a role due to its acclaim, status, or respect.

A modern form of extrinsic motivation is FOMO — or fear of missing out. During the worldwide lockdowns and restrictions during 2020, FOMO wasn’t much of an issue. Yet now things are opening up, it becomes easier to feel a subtle pull to keep up to speed with what others are doing. Social media shows a constant reel of people’s lives and everything they’re up to. FOMO is the motivation to take part, even if it’s an activity or experience you’re not internally motivated or enthusiastic about.

Although it’s a slang term, FOMO has genuine consequences on wellbeing and behavior. Due to its rise in recent years, FOMO has been scientifically researched, with one study finding it to be “identified as a meaningful extrinsic motive.” Although FOMO is a relatively new phenomenon, acting to maintain self-image, or fit in socially, is part of the human DNA. Ryan and Deci refer to this as ego involvement, “in which a person performs an act in order to enhance or maintain self-esteem and the feeling of worth.”

Extrinsic motivation is also linked to social media and modern smartphones. Our devices and apps are filled with external rewards that provide dopamine hits — think of “likes” on social media, or design techniques, such as the infinite scroll, that keep your attention. Chamath Palihapitiya, the former VC of growth at Facebook, went as far as to express guilt because “the short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works.”

When it comes to people behaving the way they do, with mental clarity and a strong sense of connection, it’s unlikely most people would choose to spend hours upon hours browsing Facebook or Instagram. Yet once in those feedback loops, the extrinsic rewards affect motivation by getting you hooked to a burst of feel-good chemicals or social validation.

More on extrinsic rewards

Extrinsic rewards aren’t always negative, and their role in motivation is often complex. Think of a student studying to get good grades. If it’s a subject they don’t like, there’s a chance they won’t find much joy in studying itself. Yet the outcome of getting good grades, and progressing in the academic ladder, is enough to make the extrinsic reward a solid motivation.

Like all aspects of human behavior, there are many layers involved. It’s not as straightforward as motivation being intrinsic or extrinsic or motivated internally or externally. There is overlap. For example, in a work setting, someone may be motivated to work extra hard to receive a financial bonus (external reward). They may also have the desire to receive praise from their boss (internal reward). The work they’re doing could be aligned to their values, too, making it intrinsically rewarding.

Another daily example is completing a chore — such as taking out the rubbish or cleaning the flat — which is motivated by the sense of satisfaction that will result once the job’s done. It’s rare these activities are enjoyable. But it’s part of life that there are many occasions in which we have to work through unpleasant, boring, or mundane tasks.

Extrinsic and intrinsic motivation: the benefits

In our article on intrinsic motivation, we explored why having intrinsic interest in taking an action is more effective for success over the long run, rather than relying on external factors. Research and peer reviewed studies into motivation has found this to be the case, and much more effective than the approach of avoiding punishment and chasing rewards. Studies find that extrinsic motivation is effective short-term, but loses its impact over longer periods of time.

However, extrinsic motivation isn’t useless. The relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is known as “synergistic combination.” There is a sweet spot, where the internal and external elements of motivation combine and enhance each other — think of the example above, of someone working for the satisfaction of the job, plus the desire to receive a financial bonus.

It’s unrealistic to expect to enter a flow state all day, every day, and to feel intrinsically motivated to carry out every activity. If we waited to feel an inner desire, it’s likely we’d end up procrastinating on many tasks. So while extrinsic motivation isn’t as effective long-term, the short-term effects can be harnessed, under the right circumstances.

There’s a significant difference between relying purely on extrinsic motivation for a full-time job or study, compared to being extrinsically motivated to carry out certain undesirable tasks. A good example of this is treating yourself when you’ve completed a certain task. For example, “once I’ve written 1,000 words, I’ll have a cookie.” Or “if I do my tax returns, I’ll book myself a massage.” And so on.

As long as you’re not using these techniques all the time, their short-term effects can be used skilfully. And keep in mind the four types of extrinsic motivation and the scale of autonomy. You want to avoid external regulation as much as you can and aim for identified regulation and integrated regulation. It’s not quite intrinsic mutation, but the more autonomy in a task, the more fulfilment.

How to make the most of extrinsic motivation in 5 steps

So, how can you implement this knowledge? How can you find the sweet spot of synergy, and move towards implementing the best kind of extrinsic motivation? What is the best way to stay motivated? Below are 5 takeaways from the above research, distilled into practical tools:

1. Examine your motivation inventory

Earlier, I mentioned that extrinsic motivations can be confused with intrinsic motivations. The first step is to examine your motivation inventory, which means looking at all the areas of life in which you take action, and building clarity around the “why” of your behavior.

When looking across the different areas of your life, consider what motivates you. Are there activities that are clearly intrinsically motivated, those you’d do for free in your spare time? Are there obligations or areas in which you’re extrinsically motivated, but lack inner enthusiasm?

This examination also boosts your self-awareness. It allows you to take more conscious control of the way you’re acting. You begin to notice the whys behind your behavior, which gives you the chance to change.

2. Explore what needs to be changed

Once you have examined your motivations, and where they reside on the spectrum, the next step is to see what needs to be changed. What enhancements can you make? Are there adjustments in your approach? Do you need to swap some external motivators  for more intrinsically motivated ones? For example, quitting a class you don’t find interesting, and replacing that with an activity you find internally rewarding. 

Are there areas of life where you’re constantly taking action due to introjected regulation, to avoid guilt or to find praise? Are there certain areas of life where you feel you’re only acting because of external pressure? People-pleasing is a common cause of acting outside of what feels fully aligned for the sake of ego involvement. 

When reflecting on your motivation inventory, consider what actions you’re doing because of others, and consider letting them go.

3. Adjust your mindset

Integrated regulation demonstrates that it’s possible to internalize a cause, even if the motivation starts externally. For example, internalizing the goals and ethos of a company. This is a shift in mindset, rather than a change in environment. To adjust your mindset to maximize integrated regulation, consider how the activity aligns with your core values.

For example, you might work in a job where the work itself isn’t exciting. You could consider a job with different challenges, of course. But are there other options? Could it be that you’re part of a great team, and your values of connection and supporting others adds a level of intrinsic motivation to do your job well?

This step is designed to look below the surface to discover causes you can connect to, to make what you do more fulfilling and enjoyable. A student might connect with the values of learning, a churchgoer might connect to values of community, even when these acts in themselves aren’t particularly enjoyable.

4. Use extrinsic rewards skillfully

I used the example of writing 1,000 words and earning a cookie earlier. This is a practice that can be used to boost motivation (and… eat cookies). You’re bargaining with yourself, but it does work. If there are areas in life where you’re struggling or procrastinating, consider setting up extrinsic rewards to give you a boost.

Word of caution: this isn’t to be overused. I had a friend who once used the extrinsic reward of a pint of beer and a takeaway after successfully going to gym class! You can see the issue there. So consider, how can I maximize rewards and use them intelligently? 

Using extrinsic rewards for motivation doesn’t have to be a daily occurrence. It could be that you work hard for a few weeks and get ahead with your projects, feel satisfied with the levels of productivity and self-discipline, and take a weekend vacation, or completely “switch off.”

5. Know what you want from life

This last step is really the foundation for all of the above. I’ve mentioned core values and self-awareness. It goes without saying, inner clarity around what is meaningful, what motivates you, and what your values are is crucial in order to orientate yourself and know when you’re on the right track.

In today’s society, it’s easy to be motivated extrinsically. Without awareness, the default setting is to act in accordance with social or cultural demands, or peer pressure. You might feel motivated to get ahead, be a success, even if it doesn’t feel quite right. This can keep you in a rut, chasing money or praise without examining the underlying why.

With added clarity, you’ll know what you want. Then you can understand your deepest motivation, or what your Big Why, and gradually align your life with that.

In conclusion

The beauty is, once aligned, motivation takes care of itself, and it builds momentum. When momentum builds and motivation flows, that’s when you start to believe in chasing your dreams. You’re almost exactly where you need be. Take the first step.

How To Tell If Someone Has A Truly Toxic Personality, According To Science

By | dating, family, Food for thought, friends, Motivation, narcissism, personality, relationships, self, self-development, Self-Improvement, stories, toxic people, toxic relationships, uplifting news

Your friend or someone you know has gotten fired from every job they’ve ever had. Their dates always flake on them and their friends always betray them. The common theme: it’s never their fault and if you press them on it you’re the one to blame.

According to a team of psychologists in Israel, these types of people may have a toxic personality disorder called “tendency for interpersonal victimhood” (TIV), which they describe as “an ongoing feeling that the self is a victim, which is generalized across many kinds of relationships.”

People with TIV wholly and truly believe they are never wrong and that their victimhood is a core part of their identity.

How to tell if someone ‘plays the victim?’

Not everyone who feels victimized is toxic. Bad things do happen and it’s okay to be upset about it.

Rather, TIV occurs when someone constantly feels like a victim and they bring others down with them.

Rahav Gabay and her colleagues determined that people with TIV tend to have four dimensions:

Constantly seeking recognition

Of all the allegedly horrible things that happen to someone with TIV, people never apologize to them. Worse, they don’t even acknowledge their wrongdoing.

While apologies can be hard to come by, this only becomes an issue when the person who plays the victim is in desperate search of recognition for the supposed bad things that are done to them.

A sense of moral elitism

People with TIV are never wrong. In fact, their moral compass is better than everyone else’s and they use this assumption to manipulate others into their own perspective.

This behavior may be a defense mechanism as a way to maintain a positive self-image.

Lack of empathy for others

Everything that happens to TIV people is the absolute worst and no one else’s pain or suffering matters, or so they think. This can especially be toxic in a relationship as TIV people only care about their own problems, never others’.

The route of this behavior can be that since the person believes they have suffered so much, they don’t think anyone else deserves empathy for their suffering.

This lack of empathy can also show up in a group or national level in the form of “competitive victimhood” or an “egoism of victimhood” where members of a group cannot see things from another group’s perspective.

Rumination about past victimization

Since romantic relationships never worked out in the past for TIV people, there’s no chance they’ll work in the future. This is a fallacy as the past doesn’t dictate the future, but it’s a core belief of people who always play the victim.

Always ruminating about past grievances and thinking it reflects the future is something perpetual victims tend to do.

Why TIV is toxic

People who always play the victim are extremely difficult to deal with because they’re selfish and never wrong.

They’re also obsessed with seeking revenge for those who’ve wronged them and may punish others who had nothing to do with it just because they’ve been wronged before.

Forgiving is part of growth

We all play the victim from time to time. Sometimes bad things really do happen to us and it makes us sour.

The problem is when the victimhood because constant and when the person never learns from their mistakes. It’s also problematic when they never forgive others – you don’t know what everyone is going through and nobody’s perfect.

Ultimately, the problem with playing the victim is it doesn’t allow you to learn or grow from the past. If you don’t acknowledge your faults, how can you make adjustments for the future?

If you know someone who’s always playing a victim, it might be time to reduce your relationship with them or have a frank discussion about it. Life is too short to be surrounded by toxic people.

More uplifting stories:

I Realized My Relationship With My Mother Was Actually Toxic And Learned to Parent Myself

By | Food for thought, goalcast originals, inspiring, mental health, self-development, stories

My mom prefers to act as though we have a great relationship. She pretends, she tells stories, then she covers up her lies with bigger lies. And back when I thought it was possible to move the dial on our relationship, her default move was to play the victim.

Outgrowing my childhood wounds

I shouldn’t have been surprised though, because after all, she was the self-proclaimed ‘best mom’ who did ‘everything for her kids.’

The truth, unfortunately, was far from it.

So, with her strong denial of my reality and her inability to let go of the selfishness, control and manipulative behavior that caused so much pain in the first place, healing the fallout from our relationship was a journey I walked alone.

Sometimes, the apple can fall far from its tree

Healing from my relationship with my mom meant being brutally honest about my childhood. As anyone who has a tough relationship with a parent will tell you, it’s not easy to admit. You almost feel ashamed that your story is different than the beautiful nuclear family that’s so readily advertised, so your first instinct is to hide it.

Shortly after my mom’s divorce, her best friend (and our aunt) came for a visit. She sat with me and asked how long I knew about my mom’s affair (which, to make things more complicated, was with my dad’s sister’s husband). I let her know that my mom told me about their relationship when I was about 5. She was baffled that an adult would share something so heavy with a child.

Granted her surprise, I skipped the details about how my mom not only blatantly continued her affair in front of my sibling and I, but she also used us to lie to our dad on her behalf, treat her lover like a father (while she vilified our dad), and spend the majority of our free-time with the two of them while they played house.

“Promise, to never be like your mom”

Even with the little my aunt did know, she still found it revolting enough to have me promise that I would never be like my mom.

I think about that day often. It was about 15 years ago, and I’ve come a heck of a long way. I’ve put in a lot of work to end the generational trauma of affairs, violence, chronic lying and shame induced manipulation tactics– and frankly, it’s the best gift I could have given myself.

So, no matter what your pain, how similar or how different it may be than mine, I wish the same healing for you.  

Learning to re-mother myself

With a mother that was entirely preoccupied with her affair and her societal image, and a father I watched dwindle into an alcoholic, then into a violent threat in the household, good parenting was hard to come by.  

But none of that really became apparent until I entered my first serious relationship. It was then that things started bubbling up. I was anxious. The feeling of someone walking away felt like being abandoned. My anger was always just one misunderstanding away and I had a complete inability to self-soothe. I felt like a child masquerading as an adult.

It was only when I started walking the path of self-development that I learned the vocabulary I needed to address the root causes of my issues, many stemming from my upbringing.

I learned about my attachment style and how it repeated itself in romantic relationships, I learned about co-dependency and the necessity of boundaries and I learned about how my anger was really just poorly veiled sadness.

But, I didn’t just wake up with that knowledge, I found them in the pages of books that changed my life. Here are a few of the books:

-Healing the Wounds of Childhood by Don St John, Ph.D.

-Unconditional Forgiveness by Mary Hayes Grieco

-Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves

-Getting the Love you Want by Harville Hendrix

-Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting or Self-Involved Parents by Lindsay C. Gibson

Through this work, I found validation, empowerment through information and the tools I needed to parent myself.

I also combined this with journaling and affirmations, a powerful combination of tools that allowed me to rewire my psychology and take small, daily steps towards betterment.

Positive change slowly but surely happened

It was only when I was well on this journey of understanding and resolving my earliest experiences that I started to find relationships that were of a higher quality.

Since then, many mentors have appeared in my life who later shared about their similar childhoods, I’ve stumbled upon podcasts and other nuggets of information that have helped me change in massive ways, and best of all, I’ve learned to love in a way that doesn’t hurt.

I guess it’s true what they say, ‘when the student is ready, the teacher will appear,’ and I believe that you being here and reading this is a cornerstone to your healing journey.

It will not be easy, but it will most definitely be worth the inner peace that you find on the other end.

In my journey, I’ve learned to own my story and integrate it into my life’s narrative in a way that strengthens my purpose. Now, when I see dynamics similar to my own, I can’t look away. So, here I am creating. I hope this helps.

Your friend,

Ivy Gill

More inspiring stories:

How Jane Fonda Rewrote Her Life With a Third Act

By | Food for thought, inspiring, jane fonda, purpose, self, self-development

The year is 2019, and 81-year-old, two-time Oscar-winner Jane Fonda is being arrested for the fourth week in a row. Her crime? “Non-violent disobedience.”

While being arrested, Jane takes the time to thank the BAFTAs for her lifetime achievement award– she will not make it to the awards ceremony, because she is protesting climate change outside the Capitol Building.

This is the same year that 16-year-old Greta Thunberg was named Time’s Person of the Year for leading a global movement of climate strikes protesting the same issue.

But Grace and Frankie star Jane Fonda’s history as an activist stretches back four decades. She has been both loved and hated for her dedication to her principles, but remains passionate about the issues she supports today as she was when she began her journey. 

Today, we see activists marching the streets of America and the entire world on the single topic of climate change, but Fonda’s colorful journey is one to explore. 

How did she become such a fearless crusader?

Jane’s first act of activism

As the daughter of Hollywood royalty (her dad was Oscar-winner Henry Fonda of 12 Angry Men, On Golden Pond), Jane grew up in the spotlight before owning it herself.

She built a career as a starlet and sex symbol by starring in films like The Chase and Barbarella, but though she was born in the shadow of her father’s success, Jane has always been determined to blaze her own path.

Jane made her first public display of activism during the Vietnam war, using her high profile to bring attention to the causes she was passionate about– and faced major backlash for doing so. Despite this, she forged a critically-acclaimed career, winning her first Oscar and refusing to star in movies that she didn’t feel held value for the public. This decision led to her second Oscar win, for a film about a Vietnam vet’s struggles.

Jane then branched out into comedies, starring in the hit movie 9 to 5 with close friend (and future Grace and Frankie co-star Lily Tomlin) and built a work-out video empire.

Then she announced her retirement. Things seemed over for Jane– but that was far from the truth.

Second act: learning from her mistakes

Jane Fonda became known as “Hanoi Jane” for her Vietnam activism and many say this was by far the most overboard she has ever gone to raise awareness of an issue she supports. In fact, this is where she started to gain enemies toward her activism. 

In 1970, Jane was falsely arrested for drug trafficking and detained, although her bag contained only vitamins. It was a moment that would set the tone for her future protests and arrests.

Jane’s loyalty to the USA has been questioned for many years. Many see her alleged “Anti-War” protests as “Anti-American” because she seemed to blatantly speak against the U.S. Soldiers

In later years, Jane has reflected upon and apologized for posing in the iconic picture:

I will go to my grave regretting the photograph of me in an anti-aircraft gun, which looks like I was trying to shoot at American planes. It hurt so many soldiers. It galvanized such hostility. It was the most horrible thing I could possibly have done. It was just thoughtless.

Jane Fonda to Barbara Walters

Second act: Growing from mistakes

Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)

The mistakes she made in her youth have led Jane to be more informed and to think more carefully and critically about the causes she supports.

Today, she is still out and about doing marches and “Fire Drills” to raise awareness of climate change, with support from other famous friends like Joaquin Phoenix and Ted Danson.

Jane has said in numerous interviews that she doesn’t care to get arrested as many times as it takes to make her point, while acknowledging that her privilege as a celebrity affords her the ability to do so. Spoken like a true activist.

Though critics of Fonda say she goes overboard with her statements and actions, those closest to her say that her activism is what keeps demons at bay and keeps her going and youthful.

It’s time for a third act

“I divided my life into three acts of 30 years each because every 30 years, I tend to change.”

Jane Fonda, HBO

Jane emerged from retirement in 2005, reinvigorated by years of experience out of the celebrity world. In addition to acclaimed performances on the stage and in film, Jane and best friend Lily co-starred in 7 seasons of Grace and Frankie. The show follows two best friends whose marriages have abruptly ended due to their husbands’ infidelity, as is all about them rediscovering their joie de vivre.

As Jane told HBO, “At the beginning of my third act, I realized — holy sh*t — I don’t know who I am. I was 60 and thought, I have maybe 30 more years. Third acts are important and can pull the rest together. So, I went about studying myself, which meant studying my parents and grandparents. Those are the people who determine who you are — who you then spend the rest of your life healing from. One of the things I hope people come away feeling is a need to examine their lives.” 

This is a profound personal development statement that rings true to most all people of any age and in any stage of life.

Through this realization, Jane has made peace with herself, ending her marriage and embracing her third act as a single woman.

I’m single, which makes me very happy.

Jane Fonda, Vanity Fair

She has also gone deep into contributing to the following charities: 

  • Alzheimer’s Association
  • Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes
  • Elton John AIDS Foundation
  • Heifer International
  • Los Angeles LGBT Center
  • Oceana
  • Peace Over Violence
  • V-Day

What we can learn from Jane

While not everyone agrees with Jane’s personal beliefs or motivations, we can all learn from her approach– fearlessly embracing her opinions and living in accordance with them, whatever the cost.

One of the rights we all hold dear is the right to speak our opinion, and to be heard. This is not a right to be heard if and only if you support one cause or the other, but a right that we all possess. We can see that Jane Fonda simply followed what her heart believed, and that can be interpreted many ways. 

Jane’s story teaches us that our story doesn’t end when we are struggling or when we reach a certain age. Through each act of her life, she experienced highs and lows, made mistakes and learned from them.

In your second and third acts, you, too, can grow and adapt while still being true to the beliefs and convictions that make up the core of who you are.

I love mistakes because it’s the only way you learn. You don’t learn from successes; you don’t learn from awards; you don’t learn from celebrity; you only learn from wounds and scars and mistakes and failures. And that’s the truth.

Jane Fonda, Flaunt Magazine

The 6 Stages of Change To Create the Life You Want

By | challenging, Food for thought, how-to guide, self, self-development

Resilience is forged in the fire of determination. It’s the courage to take action when facing fear and resistance. Although sometimes we’d like it to be easy, all meaningful change ignites fear and resistance to some degree. Self-actualization — the manifestation of our full potential — is a long, painful process for this very reason.

A potential pitfall I’ve noticed with spiritual practice, is that it can become excessively inward focused.

Picture the monk in a cave in the Himalayas, with no external distractions and days filled with hours and hours of meditation

Meditation increases self-awareness and awareness is a catalyst to meaningful change. But unless you pair awareness with action, you’ll freeze at this step.

Changing your behavior is a courageous leap, particularly when you realize that your life are out of alignment. Building an authentic life is an immense challenge; and it’s the path few take.

But it’s essential for living a fulfilling life.

Are you ready to change?

Face your fear to create the life you want

Meaningful change is intimidating. What happens when we realize jobs, relationships, or life situations aren’t what we want in our heart of hearts?

Such realizations can trigger all kinds of fear-based responses in the ego. We fear rejection, loss, or failure.

But it’s crucial to mix spiritual intelligence with getting stuff done, right? We aren’t here to play small, but to live fully and authentically. This takes an immense amount of courage and effort. And in my experience, it requires a smart, structured approach.

This is where behavioral psychology comes in. I find immense value in Prochaska and DiClemente’s model of behavioural change, The Stages of Change Model (also known as the Transtheoretical Model). The model was developed in the 1970s by examining people who successfully quit smoking.

Typically, change is seen as all-or-nothing

The Stages of Change model provides a different approach. Progress in this framework is cyclical. Moving up and down stages is common. By understanding this model, you’re more likely to stick to new habits, and avoid self-sabotage or perfectionism.

Prochaska and DiClemente formed this based on healthy habits, but it’s just as applicable to our dreams and deepest desires, including self-actualization. I recommend using this model as a journaling tool (or discussing it with a coach) for various areas of change.

Let’s look at each stage in detail:

1. Precontemplation

Precontemplation is the point before you even entertain change as a possibility.

There’s zero awareness around the need to change; perhaps due to denial or ignorance.

At this stage, you have no thought of changing, even if others see the need for change.

Without awareness, you may underestimate how problematic a certain behavior (or lack of behavior) is, while emphasizing the drawbacks of making change. Applied to self-actualization, pre-contemplation is intertwined with shadow work.

Ignoring or denying the shadow self, anger, or jealousy makes contemplation impossible.

2. Contemplation

Contemplation is the moment of awareness; the lifting of the veil.

The contemplation stage is introspective. Meditation and mindfulness expedite the shift from precontemplation to contemplation.

This stage is balanced: you equally assess the pros and cons of making change.

When contemplating behavioural change at this stage, you may feel hesitation and doubt. A common example is setting boundaries; a fundamental practice in living authentically.

Communication is key, yet the build-up to such conversations can take a while. There can be lots of contemplation before finding the courage to set boundaries — particularly with those you love.

3. Preparation

The preparation stage is the beginning of exploration.

Using boundary-setting as an example, you may reflect on what your needs are, what needs have to be communicated, and what you’ll say to communicate them. You may buy books on communication rely on your support system for guidance.

We’ll refer to this as the information-gathering stage, or the “Google it” stage.

By this stage, there’s a clear determination to take action in the near future.

A common example with physical health would be researching gym plans, looking up exercise routines, or prepping the cupboards to start eating healthier.

Man cleaning face

4. Action

This is the “Just Do It” moment of change.

It’s crucal that your actions are congruent with your values and authentic desires. I say this because, many times in my life, I’ve pursued goals or taken action due to ego-driven desires.

A common misperception is to view this as the final stage of change.

Believing the moment of action is “final” leads to setbacks and complacency. Your action has to be repeated.

5. Maintenance

Sticking to the new action and developing consistency is the true test.

Remember: the Stage of Change is a spiral model. What this means is, you’re expected to oscillate between stages, rather than consistently progress.

Keep in mind there’s a significant difference between a lapse and total relapse.

And, remember: in all big changes, there will be lapses. Lapses are guaranteed! You may reach the action stage, face setbacks, and return to contemplation. Be kind when this happens.

Most people slip up at this point because they see progress as linear, and change as a success or failure.

Rather than seeing setbacks as failure, it’s much easier to recognize the setback as a lapse, and take action to correct the behavior as soon as you can.

If you find yourself spiralling to an earlier stage, it’s a good time to reassess your goals.

Were they aligned with your deepest wants and needs, or from a place of ego? What can you do better? Do you need more tools or support systems in place? Reflect without judgement.

To remain vigilant, self-monitoring is needed. Applied to a diet, this could be counting calories or checking weight loss. Spiritual growth isn’t as easy to define; but it could involve commitment to a meditation practice, journaling to see progress, or remaining self-aware to ego-triggers and behavioral patterns.

6. Termination

At this stage your new behavior is ingrained and habitual. However, it’s important to note this stage is often not included in health promotion programs because it’s incredibly rare.

It’s likely most of us will be at a stage of consistent maintenance

This is apt for the process of self-actualization. Ego-driven desires and impulses may remain, to some degree, throughout our lives. We just become much better at handling them and choosing to live from a place of heart instead.

I almost decided not to include this stage purely because the ego can play tricks and decide you’ve reached termination stage as a way to breed carelessness. But with this new perspective on change, I hope you’re able to progress and avoid excessive self-criticism on the path to creating the life you want.

It isn’t easy. But it’s worth it.

Demi Lovato Has Moved Beyond Body Positivity– and You Should Too

By | demi lovato, empowering, Food for thought, Inspiring Celebrities, profile, self, self-development

It’s been a little over a year since Demi Lovato’s apparent overdose. She’s been through a lot this whole time, but now she’s back feeling stronger than ever.

During her first interview with Teen Vogue since her relapse, Demi opened up about inner strength, body acceptance, and new projects for her fans yet to come.

More cautious about her decisions and equipped with a lot more patience this time around, Demi now takes a different approach regarding her self-image and actions.

I think it’s been a very introspective year for me. I’ve learned a lot, been through a lot.

Demi’s fight against body image

This is not the first time Demi publicly speaks about body image. Over the course of her career she’s been struggling a lot with meeting beauty standards.

We’re dealing with an industry of beauty and perfection, where appearance seems to count more than talent itself. The media is presenting us some impossible goals to reach in order to feel good about our bodies.

Every time we open a fashion magazine or our social media accounts, we see the same things – more diets, new aesthetic surgeries, trends that are hard to keep up with, and women who would sacrifice anything to get one step closer to perfection.

By being part of this industry since childhood, Demi felt she had no choice but to follow all the ridiculous rules to meet the beauty standards set by society. But when she finally got the body and looks she “needed,” instead of feeling more confident, she was feeling rather distressed and frustrated.

Over the past five years I’ve learned life is not worth living unless you’re living for yourself. If you’re trying to be someone you’re not, or you’re trying to please other people, it’s not going to work out in the long run.

So she began taking small steps in focusing on her own needs first and accepting her true self.

Positivity vs. acceptance

Demi Lovato Body Positivity
(Photo by Joseph Okpako/WireImage)

Demi’s self-image has changed a lot over this past year. Where she once struggled with an eating disorder and took dieting and exercise to an unhealthy extreme, today she is capable of accepting her body as it naturally is.

We hear the term body positivity all the time. To be honest, I don’t always feel positive about my body. Sometimes I do not like what I see. I don’t sit there and dwell on it. I also don’t lie to myself.

Her statement makes the difference between body positivity and body acceptance quite clear. We can all sit in front of a mirror and tell ourselves how beautiful we are, but it won’t have any positive effect if we don’t truly believe what we say.

We all have our bad days. Today your skin might glow, but the next day it might look awful – and that’s perfectly normal. You’re only confident about your self-image once you accept that and move on without changing anything.

Demi allows herself a cheat day every now and then, doesn’t force herself anymore to hit the gym like a maniac, and says she’s feeling better than ever. She still has a trainer and a nutritionist, of course, but she’s doing things at a pace that makes her feel comfortable.

She doesn’t hide her flaws

While many other stars are still trying to impress strangers on social media with unrealistic photos, Demi has embraced the fact that she is only human and accept that having flaws is part of that. She recently posted a photo of herself in a bikini, explaining that she had retouched photos of herself in the past to make herself look smoother and thinner.

Even though Demi was scared about the mean comments she would get, she still followed her heart and posted the photo.

Aside from the fact that there will always be trolls and haters online, the singer encouraged fans to remember that words can still hurt.

What people don’t realize is I’m an extremely sensitive person. When someone says something mean about me or makes a meme making fun of me, I have a good sense of humor. But when it’s a very serious subject it can be hurtful.

How self-acceptance empowers us

By being true to herself, Demi says that accepting her body also helped her determine exactly what she wants from life. She realizes that past events might have overshadowed her career as a musician, but she’s working hard to get people to remember that she’s a singer and an actress, first and foremost.

Demi is happy to announce a new album that will tell her story exactly as it is, and the charts are waiting for her. Her fans continue to support her and she couldn’t be more grateful about it.

What I see in the mirror [is] someone that’s overcome a lot. I’ve been through a lot and I genuinely see a fighter. I don’t see a championship winner, but I see a fighter and someone who is going to continue to fight no matter what is thrown their way.

The singer teaches us a lot about dealing with our self-image in a healthy way. Allow yourself to take a break and see yourself for who you really are. Learn to love that– not an ideal that you’ve created inside your mind. Confidence lies in the acceptance of your true self.

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What Emma Watson Really Means When She Says She’s “Self-Partnered”

By | actors, Emma Watson, Food for thought, introspective, self, self-development

Emma Watson announced in a British Vogue interview that she has changed her relationship status from “single” to “self-partnered,” and everyone’s busy talking about it.

Compared by many to Gwyneth Paltrow’s reframing of her divorce as “conscious uncoupling,” Watson is known for her willingness to engage more deeply than most celebs with the social issues and activism she encounters, particularly around gender.

As strange as it may sound, self-partnering is simply about trying to focus on being happy and complete as an individual— ultimately investing time in getting to know oneself without bowing to pressures to seek fulfillment in a partner. It doesn’t mean you’re not open to it. It just means you’re with yourself first.

Emma Watson is all grown up now

What is “self-partnered”?

Watson recently told British Vogue that as her 30th birthday approaches, she’s finally happy with being single.

“It took me a long time, but I’m very happy. I call it being self-partnered,” she said.

Let’s face it, the reality is, 2019 though it may be, the pressures facing single women on the precipice of 30 (or older) are still quite real.

Personally, I found myself dealing with the breakup of a longterm relationship at the age of 29, and all I saw was my same-age ex-boyfriend getting hit on by women both “age-appropriate” and far younger. At the time, I was suffering a lack of confidence—out of character—which allowed mainstream notions of “aging women” and where we should be in life (with a man and kids—before it’s too “late”) enter my sphere.

Close to a decade later, I now feel these prescribed pressures far less, having seen their true potential to block happiness—whether they’ve been fulfilled or not. 

It’s about having choices

Watson’s role in the upcoming remake of Little Women is seemingly an extension of the way she approaches real-life feminism. To that end, she says that she’s dedicated to learning about and expanding on what being a feminist truly means.

Although the story’s eldest March sister, Meg (who Watson plays) isn’t traditionally understood as a feminist—especially compared to the rebellious, free-spirited Jo– Watson wants the world to understand, once and for all, that for her, feminism is about the right to choose, regardless of what it is that one chooses.

“Her choice is that she wants to be a full-time mother and wife,” says Watson. “To Jo, being married is really some sort of prison sentence. But Meg says, ‘You know, I love him and I’m really happy and this is what I want.”

Just because my dreams are different from yours, it doesn’t mean they’re unimportant.

The importance of intersectionality in all things

Emma Watson

While Emma Watson has indeed been stealing headlines with her coining of the term “self-partnered,” it’s important to point out that while the new label works to reframe singledom, it also happens to derail more complex, less snappy conversations Watson has had about her experiences learning intersectionality (aka intersectional feminism).

What is intersectionality, you may ask?

Why, the inherently interconnected nature of social categories like race, class, and gender, of course, and how they overlap to create systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

As Lola Okolosie writes for The Guardian, Watson has done the work necessary to understand criticism she’s received in the past.

“When I heard myself being called a ‘white feminist’ I didn’t understand (I suppose I proved their case in point). What was the need to define me — or anyone else for that matter — as a feminist by race? What did this mean? Was I being called racist? Was the feminist movement more fractured than I had understood? I began… panicking,” said Watson.

“It would have been more useful to spend the time asking myself questions like: What are the ways I have benefited from being white? In what ways do I support and uphold a system that is structurally racist? How do my race, class and gender affect my [feminist] perspective?”

She went on to thank other feminists for calling her out. 

Should we all be self-partnered?

If the collective “we” should find ourselves willing to draw valuable lessons from the work and life (thus far) of Emma Watson, let it be the following: the importance of remaining open— always open— to new ways of framing experiences, new definitions of well-worn terms, and even altogether new ways of understanding the ways of the world at large. You do that, and you’ll be your own best partner.

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