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Do you WANT TO... really? Thursday March 3, 2016

"Vision is not enough. It must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps; we must step up the stairs." Vaclav Havel

If I were to ask any of you now – ‘How can you improve your own life?’ I’m sure you could immediately write a number of things down, that are immediately under your control.

Let’s turn those thoughts into written words and align with Havel’s quote that action is the key.

In fact why not do that – take five minutes to write down what you could do for yourself, to improve your health and wellbeing to create a sustainable habit.

This of course could be physical (PQ – to Live), or mental (IQ – to Learn), or emotional (EQ – to Love) or spiritual (SQ – to leave a Legacy) or a mix, see what falls out for you?

I’m hesitant to write examples down as it needs to come from inside you – how YOU feel? Please do it before reading on, unless you are struggling.

If some of you are however ‘lost’ in thought, as I can be on certain days, examples could be simply calling a friend (EQ)/going for a walk (PQ)/practicing mindfulness (SQ)/learning or reading (IQ).

My question would then be 'why don’t you just do it?'

If as Havel states we not only have to ‘see’ the stairs but also ‘climb’ them, and you KNOW these actions will make you feel better about yourself, why are we not doing them already?

You may now be doing what I call DJE (defend, justifying and explaining), even to yourself! why you have not done these actions. Too busy, too wet, too tired et al.

One of the foundational slides I have used for years is the excellent Stephen Covey concept of what creates a habit, which I have added to.

Is there any one of the three foundations (Knowledge, Skill & Desire) more important than the others? The answer eventually will always be ‘desire’, the EQ.

So while we see the ‘steps’ to achieve a better health and wellbeing (what to and why to) and know how to climb them (how to) THE key is the ‘want to’.

Now, looking at your list of things you know will improve you and having the skill to do that – will you do it?

This is why diet books, exercise DVDs and self-help books sell more than anything else – we mostly already know what we need to do – we simply need the motivation. (Hence why over 80% of New Year resolutions fail.) The motivation cannot be ‘out there’, it must be ‘in here’ with ourselves.

What are you going to do now?

There is no easy route to anywhere worth going.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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the room above the garage Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 6:21am

This is great Les. I can identify with it very much. Nothing solid happened to help me conquer my fight with alcohol until I really, really wanted to. I failed a lot until that desire became bigger. Now I need to learn from it and apply the same to stress. Thank you my friend. p.s. how are you doing?

Hopeful One Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 12:29pm

Hi RATG , Norman , lily pet et al. You may carry on with HO. That will be my cover to offer my more saucy jokes( absolutely no profanities I promise). Here is today's offering A little girl walks into a pet shop and asks in the sweetest little lisp: "Excuthe me, mithter, do you keep wittle wabbits?" And the shopkeeper gets down on his knees, so that he's on her level, and asks: "Do you want a wittle white wabby or a soft and fuwwy bwack wabby or maybe one like that cute wittle bwown wabby over there?" The little girl puts her hands on her knees, leans forward and says in a quiet voice: "I don't fink my pyfon really giveths a thit."

Les Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 2:19pm

Hi RATG - Until there is a bigger 'want to' from inside, things may not materialise. Thanks for asking....not quite at the tipping point back to being OK about me - fortunately I am staying with the best friends I have.

Soulmansblue Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 8:08am

Hi All,

I'll try to be quick as this is related you your replies of yesterday.

Yes, I have forgiven my Father, but I'd still like to know the reasons why!

Why he left when I was off island, staying on Sark the island that I think as home. He left me a 10 year old as the man of the house and denied my mother my support.

He took away my chance to beg him stay to ask him what I'd done wrong to make him leave and not take me with him. I was his son his only one and I never thought I'd have to ask, do you love me... Yes or No?

I'm still waiting to hear the answers to the questions to which he has yet to reply.

Why don't I like myself, one look in the mirror and I don't see the inner me wrapped in a body that I recognise. I'm way over weight, some 7 stone and there is nothing that I can about it!

I've lost all that is physically possible, I can lose no more. I hear you ask me why!

It's due to the physical illness that I now have. I put on so much weight because they were slow to diagnose, what I could lose of that I have. Due to the nature of the illness apprantly I can lose no more. In fact if the illness is not managed properly I'm likely to put more on.

I'm large and wobbly like Mr. Blubby and I have what looks like a huge beer-gut and I don't drink. The person I see in the mirror is not me, the person in the mirror women do not want to even say hello!

So what is there to like, no one gets to learn of whose encased inside.

The things that I'm buying is audio software and hardware and photographic equipment. All for the various things that I like to do. I'm now looking at putting up a website to see if I can sell the pictures that I create.

Thanks all for asking, sorry that this is not in relation to today's blog. I haven't been able to digest today's blog yet so much in there to think about.


Norman Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 9:09am

"The things that I'm buying is audio software and hardware and photographic equipment. All for the various things that I like to do. I'm now looking at putting up a website to see if I can sell the pictures that I create." And out of the darkness comes light! Keep doing the things you love (but keep within budget!) Set up your website, be successful at it. You will be amazed how sexy the smell of money and success can be...

Anonymous Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 9:12am

Hi SMB. Looking fat and infact being overweight cannot be nice to see in the mirror. I am not sure that you cannot overcome the meds you say are keeping you overweight? Of course there are many very attractive overweight people around so it could be that you could make the most of it. Buy clothes to flatter your physique. I am only commenting on the points I asked you about by the way! Can you challenge what the Drs tell you? i.e that you cannot lose anymore weight as to my mind that is a recipe for just piling on the pounds. You could ask about a gastric band? I bet though that in reality you are not Mr Blobby! Today when you go out, smile at women and everyone. Look happy. Assume they will like the look of you! As for buying stuff, it seems that what you've bought will be useful but they are sedentary equipment. I know you have spent up, but next time you are out or at the computer, look at exercise machines too. I am NOT a medic so obvs, you must consult your Dr about all this. But one thing I am sure of, you are more attractive than you think. And remember it takes only one woman to fancy you.....Julx

the room above the garage Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 9:13am

I agree with Norman, SMB. In here bodies mean nothing. It's minds that make the difference.

the room above the garage Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 9:14am

And I agree with Jul! Hello lovely xx.

Norman Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 9:53am

Hi ratty! I used to be fat and ugly but then lost 10kg: "change the things you can't accept, and accept the things you can't change..."

Mary Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 10:04am

Dear SMB, Very few of us have perfect bodies, and I know how alienating it is to look in the mirror and see someone you know *is not you* looking back. Please be encouraged to know that there are many of us who look inside the body to the beautiful soul and heart inside. You don't tell us what your illness is (and no reason that you should - that is your own business after all) so I don't know if your physical weight gain is absolutely inevitable or not. I don't have seven stone, but and extra three stone on a 5ft body is rather portly and I find it difficult to look at photos of myself as I don't feel that large inside! As Lex said to me - whatever happens to you, use it to make good art. Stay with us my dear SMB, and keep us posted. I'd love to see some of your art sometime. (Oh - and as Norman says - stay in budget Sunshine! Be responsible.)

Anonymous Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 10:38am

Hello lovely you ratg. xxxLots of Love Jul x

Les Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 2:23pm

Hi SMB - And you don't need to digest today's blog......I am reading 'The mindfulness way to self compassion' just now.....I sense if you may be something to offer you some solace.....we can all too often be so hard on ourselves.

Hopeful One Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 5:16pm

Hi SMB- Forgive or forget - choose one. You chose to forgive . That's it . " He who apologises is the bravest. He who forgives is the strongest. He who forgets is the happiest. " You have proved you are strong. Next step is to choose 'forget' if you want to be happy. Losing weight is not easy. You have made a start by acknowledging you have an issue. I do not know what illness you have . Everthing is possible . But one needs to remove the stops .You now appear to have put psychological stop before yourself when you say' there is nothing I can do about it" As soon as one says" I can't" one never will . So one should think" I can.". Join your local weight watchers group or something similar where there are people in the same boat and will not be judgemental. As Lex says today - take the first step however small, the motivation will follow. I have seen some remarkable examples of weight loss on You Tube so I know it can be done.

Soulmansblue Fri, Mar 4th 2016 @ 7:52am

Hi Hopeful One, It's not the meds, I have an illness brought on through depression. The weight gain is basically water retention, my body stopped allowing the water that we normally pass to do so. This has now been reversed and the illness is currently under control. I have got to the point that what remains won't shift. Ans due to another illness again due to my depression makes that virtually impossible. It's not case of over eating but thanks for the suggestions though. SMB

Julie Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 9:01am

There are plenty of easy routes to places worth going as well you know, like out my back door into my garden for example, or round the corner to the park.

the room above the garage Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 9:08am

I suppose it's all relative. For some, a trip out the back door is a goal and a big step forward when it's achieved.

Les Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 2:28pm

I agree RATG - when I was black I wouldn't go out any door, never mind the bedroom door. When I am well, I love the expanse of the Scottish mountains, after I have been able to stand and listen to the birds in my garden. Our 'worth going to' places will alter as with our lives. If your dream is your garden and you may have earned enough to have a house with a garden - Fab - well done. Rest there well.

Anonymous Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 9:02am

Hi Les. I think I am motivated or have the desire to keep going each day by a sort of duty to my family and myself. Duty is probably the wrong word as it smacks of something external I think you might say rather than an internal desire. However I will not give in. I like life and much of what has to offer even though much of what is happening in the world is disgraceful, can be halted but big powers prefer to leave things as they are, to suit their own ends. But on a smaller scale and a personal view of my life and what I know can be achieved, I have this desire to discover, wear nice clothes, keep myself fit, be nice to people, listen to dancey music and look after children, read the newspaper, ride my bike, read books, travel a little etc the one or two friends I can trust from time to time. Small things but they motivate me and make my life worth getting up for. Insomnia and depression are always in the background however and I am constantly aware of their attempts to bring me down. They do so each day and some days, I am completely floored. But the desire is still there in some small way. All the things I manage are what you describe as my sustainable habit. Julx

Les Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 2:29pm

Hi Jul - great wee story. Watch those duties tho....we often use them to beat ourselves up with. Lx

Norman Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 9:05am

Les, have you looked at the flip sides of these? For knowledge read ignorance, for skill read ineptitude, for desire read aversion/fear. I am highly creative put totally inept at drawing, painting, sculpting etc. I am also often conflicted between desire and fear, I really want to but...

Not sure if this adds to the analysis or not!

the room above the garage Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 9:11am

Hello Norman, glad to see you showing up again and again, it's true progress and I can't tell you how proud I feel of you. I think you have faced fear and desire head on and it shows you who you are.

Norman Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 9:59am

Thanks ratg, someone at work seems to have had a lightbulb moment and worked out that (bullying of manager) + (manager depression) = (bad financial outcome). Talks are progressing.

Mary Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 10:05am

Norman - that's good to know. I pray for a positive outcome.

Les Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 2:33pm

Hi Norman - It depends on what you would like to be a habit in your life - and who says you are inept? If you enjoy something and it doesn't negatively affect others...?? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder....isn't it? For sure 'fear' will diminish desire....maybe that's where you need support - as we all so easily give to our children - less often to adults?

Rebecca Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 9:16am

Hi Les, I have written down "stop caring so much what other people think." Maybe now I have written it I can start trying to put into practice.

Mary Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 10:12am

Rebecca - I know it was an utter revelation to me when I finally realised that, whatever I did, not everybody was going to like me! Once I was resigned to the fact that my light-hearted facetious ways are always going to irritate some people, and my bluntness was inevitably going to injure some tender feelings, I could learn to dance around those I annoy and warn the sensitive first. If your motives are pure and you're not lying to yourself, then it is other people who are responsible for what they think. It's on them. Let them think what they will and you just walk on serenely. Go well, dear one, go well.

the room above the garage Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 11:07am

Like Mary, it was a revelation to me. To start caring about how I felt and just drop the weight of what others might think...that was an enormous leap and one I wish I'd made years ago. I realise that THAT is what people admire...strength to be comfortable with ourselves.

Les Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 2:35pm

Hi Rebecca - Mary and RATG are correct - we are all so often affected by what other think - especially those of us that seek to please and be part of something. Adolescents can often be so susceptible to bullying. We can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

Mary Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 10:22am

Hello Les, Why don't we just do it? FUD - Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. And the comfort of staying right where we are. But also because none of us can really see that a journey of a thousand miles really does start with a single step. I am very far from having a successful writing career - but I am much father along the way now that I have completed two novels and have started my third than I was when all I had was a series of brightly coloured scenes in my head. What made the difference was actually sitting down and writing words. I am now 4% fluent in Spanish - a laughable statistic: I can just about say "The (female) cat drinks milk - La gata bebe leche." - but I couldn't say that two weeks ago. Maybe, with any new habit (like giving up alcohol for instance), we need to walk backwards, to see how far we've come. If we turn around again our goal seems as far off as ever, but if all we've done is make one step, then that's one step in the right direction. Thank you Les for a post that really made me think, today (but you're always good at that, my friend)

Les Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 2:40pm

Hi Mary - Absolutely - the hardest step to anywhere new, is the first one. As RATG stated in the first comment - we won't stop a habit - even a destructive one, until the desire to change becomes greater. This can be the choice for some between life and death - yet until there is the most important and powerful change - a change of heart - death, as we all know, can follow any destructive addiction and habit. Spanish next week 5%? This is also why Moodscope is so good - what gets measured to a high degree gets managed. Thus scores / weight / %'s are crucial to receiving feedback to fuel the desire.

Alex Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 11:35am

Thanks for the great post Les.

However I think it is more complex than simply willing yourself to do something in some kind of eureka moment.

I recently tried the concept of Tiny Habits myself, and would really recommend them. You can try it out for 5 minutes a day for 5 days really easily at:

I'll explain the rationale to the best of my understanding below

(1) Willpower

Willpower is a finite resource, that requires training to improve. e.g. see Kelly McGonigal PhD (Stanford)

Maybe you can will yourself to do anything (debatable), but if you are willing yourself to do things for which you have little motivation this uses a lot of cognitive energy and you will quickly burn out from exhaustion.

(2) Motivation

Motivation isn't simply desire. I think its broken down great by MEVID:

Motivation = (Expectancy x Value) / (Impulsiveness x Delay)

This is explained well by Piers Steel.

e.g. see Section 4 here:

In simple terms if you're lack expectancy or value, you're too impulsive or a task doesn't have immediate reward, you're likely to suffer low motivation.

(3) Motivation v Difficulty

Easier tasks require less motivation to do. Difficult tasks require a lot of motivation. The trouble comes when you try and habitualise difficult tasks in one big jump. Even if you manage to summon the motivation at the start, it can be difficult to sustain that motivation long enough to really deeply solidify a habit (hence why many people start resolutions, diets etc well but then fall off).

You can see this nicely in Dr Fogg's Graph and explanation at

(4) Habits

Habits have the structure
(i) Cue
(ii) Routine
(iii) Reward
(iv) Supporting beliefs

(see e.g. Barbara Oakley, UC San Diego edx Learning How To Learn)

By creating tiny habits (first steps or mini-versions of the habit you ultimately want to achieve) - they are easier, so you have the motivation to do them. You then regularly work on just the tiny habits - and give yourself a little reward for *just the tiny habit*. This is important before it establishes the link between the cue and the start of the routine. When the cue is deeply established you can later down the line extend the tiny steps further.

I've probably rehashed some of this badly as I am only an amateur, but I hope some of you find the explanation helpful!

Les Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 2:46pm

Hi Alex - yup if you choose t try and change too much - you will as the experiments show - run out of 'gas'. Thus the most important thing is to decide what is important. As you rightly say you can start to change many things in small ways. If however as RATG offered, if there is something in your life you do not want to continue doing - there has to be enough inner desire to 'beat' that habit and create a new one.....and that may take all your willpower. I think your explanation will be helpful for some and what you have written and sourced, I would say is more than an amateur - well done and thanks.

The Gardener Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 5:27pm

When I wrote a blog on 'job satisfaction' there was a huge and varied response, with the odd veiled accusation of 'high-handedness' and 'superiority'. I referred to a friend who had 'always wanted' to play the piano and never did. She had money, time and opportunity - but it was always 'next year' 'when the garden's done' in fact, she fell at the first fence, motivation. Having had neither opportunity nor wish to go to university at the usual age I began as the children grew up to wish to very much - all depended on eldest son taking my place at the 'helm' and he was in a marriage to a drug addict who hated the family. Once divorced he took his rightful place, made a great job of it (still is, with a sister) so I got on my bike, went up to the local college attached to the University of London and enrolled on the spot. Time of my life. What I really want now cannot come from material sources, except for bought-in help. That is patience and acceptance. Evenings are excessively boring, already Mr G has asked me 6 times what I did this morning. I think, and this IS high handed, if I've wanted something and it was feasible I went for it. A mature student with me spent 20 years getting a PhD. She was married, 4 children of which one was severely handicapped, and I think her insistence in (to me, trying the impossible) wrecked he marriage. She was hopeless at juggling domesticity and learning. Perhaps now so much is on line she would have managed better.

Les Thu, Mar 3rd 2016 @ 6:13pm

Hi TG - motivation (desire) is all....what is that phrase....where there is a will - there is a way.

Liane Fri, Mar 4th 2016 @ 8:19am

Hi Les,
I read your blog on the train going to Stansted Airport. Knowledge, skill, and desire to make life's choice a habit. The last time I took that journey I was in a different mindset. Since that last trip on the train, I have used my knowledge to recognise people's desires and to determine other's levels of empathy of their partner's feelings. I'm now in a safer place-away from hurt, untruths, and bizarre behavior. How scary to think what might have endured.

Les Fri, Mar 4th 2016 @ 9:06am

Hi Liane - that sounds healthy and more freeing. That growth in self-awareness will serve you well.

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