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One thing I think a lot of us think when we stumble upon something in life is: what’s in it for me?
Not because we are extremely selfish. But we spend all day, every day in our bodies and our lives. So I think it’s pretty natural that you think about your own life, problems and challenges a bit more than you think about other people or things.
However, it’s easy to trap yourself in your current surroundings and circumstances because you fail to notice what’s in for you to perhaps make a change or try something new. I have certainly experienced this. I thought I just did something for someone else and that there was no or little gain in it for me. And so there was much inner resistance.
So I think you really have to pay attention throughout your daily life to what’s in it for you.
For instance, you have to realize what’s in it for you when holding a negative attitude. And what’s in it for you by having a positive attitude. There are always things in it for you with everything you do. Not always positive and useful things though (as with negativity).
You can for instance go around hating people. But of course the hated suffers not what’s worst. The hater carries around the curse like half a dozen albatrosses around the neck.
When you keep such things in mind it becomes easier to just let those negative thoughts go. You realize the pointlessness of doing some things. And the point(s) of doing other things.
What I have realized more and more is how much there is in it for me to do all kinds of things. I think a lot of people may make the same mistake I made and fail to realize this. I think this is a big reason why one may stand still instead of taking action and doing something.
It’s pretty easy to get stuck in a “why bother?” mentality. You may feel that life is ok now. It’s comfortable and nice. To move out of that headspace you need to find reasons why you should do something. You need to find out what’s in it for you.
So, what’s in it for the other guy?
Of course, the people you interact with have the same question in mind as you do. “What’s in it for me?” is obviously a key component in communication. If you want to motivate someone to do something don’t stay in your own head and life.
Put yourself in the other guy’s shoes and explain what’s in it for him. This is a more effective way to get someone to take action than to explain about what you will get out of it or that it’s the right thing or the good thing to do. Explain what’s in it for me and you’ll have my attention.
So you may want to look into solutions and propositions that are win-win. And a lot of solutions are win-win. They are useful not only because they can provide you and the other person with what you desire. It can also start a relationship and a positive upwards spiral of reciprocity between the two of you. That can make life easier and more enjoyable.
And sometimes, you don’t even have to explain what the win is for the other person. You can just use it as another silent motivator in your own mind for doing something.
An example: Taking a more positive attitude will not only improve your life. As you adopt a more positive perspective you see things in a different light. And so you can find more things that will benefit you and others too. Plus, you’ll just have more fun and find more excitement in life in general. And you’ll bring that fun and excitement to other people.
Why is it difficult to see what’s in it for me?
Well, for one it might be because you have negative associations that have been fed to you throughout your life.
For instance, grownups may have told you over and over that you should go out and play instead of playing videogames and that you should eat your vegetables. Or your teachers may have said over and over that you need to do your boring homework.
These myriads of associations and these perspectives on things can follow us even as we become adults. And so you may feel a resistance to for instance eating more veggies. Or to finding work you really like. Or you may have a desire to slack off on the couch instead of going out and exercising for the fun of it.
Discipline is another example. We may have bad associations from our youth. But being disciplined is extremely useful to improve your life and not get lost in endless dabbling.
Another reason why it’s hard to keep a firm hold on what’s in it for you is because it’s easier to be lazy. And so you want rationalize your behaviour and discard the benefits of doing something by coming up with negative reasons for not doing it and for just standing still.
How do you turn such thinking around? I don’t know of any quick and easy way really. But turning away from habitual negative thought patterns and adopting more positive thought patterns and taking a general interest in self-improvement has certainly had a good effect on me. Learning more about yourself, how you and for instance your ego works is very valuable to help you adopt more beneficial thought habits and reduce negative and self-limiting thoughts on a consistent basis.
How to use these positive benefits.
It’s important to educate yourself to find more and more benefits in doing something. The more powerful benefits you find the more forward-propelling motivation you’ll find to keep doing something. This is especially useful when you try to establish a new habit and have gone beyond the usual initial boost of enthusiasm (that lasts perhaps a week).
You can write down all the benefits you receive or will receive by doing something and review that piece of paper whenever you get into a motivational slump or feel like giving up.
To not forget about what’s in it for you after just a few days you can make a small list of something like the 5 most important reasons you have for doing something. Then use it as an external reminder. Post it on your computer, in the bathroom and on the fridge. Put a note with those reasons in your back pocket and carry it with you throughout the day.
Knowing what is in it for you can give you a lot of internal motivation. This is in my experience more long-lasting, sustainable and positive than external motivation. The end results may be the same. But the journey is not the same.
One example would be how a lot of people feel a pressure from the outside to be fit and slender. This outside motivation to be thin to become more attractive, to fit in etc. can create a lot pressure and negative feelings inside a person.
However if you look at it as eating healthier and exercising, as creating a somewhat modified lifestyle that will give you more energy every day, that will reduce the risk of illness, that may even lengthen your life or reduce the hours of your life that you will spend sick or in bed then it becomes something you choose to do to improve your life.
And then it becomes more fun and a positive experience to improve your life and body. You realize why it will help you and why you choose to do it. And it becomes easier to keep going because you are doing this for yourself, not because of what other people may say or think.
So remember to be on the lookout for – and remind yourself of – what’s in it for you.
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