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DARN: A Simple and Effective Way to Increase Your Motivation to Change

DARN is an acronym which stands for: Desire, Ability, Reasons, and Need. These represent four types of self-talk that people contemplating change engage in (Miller & Rollnick, 2013). Use this approach to ask yourself evocative questions that tap into your intrinsic motivation. 

Desire: Desire is wanting to have something or wanting a change. Examples include, “I want to exercise more” or “I would like to eat healthy.” Ask yourself the following questions to elicit your desire to change.
  • What am I hoping to accomplish by this change?
  • How would I like for things to change?
  • How do I want my life to be different six months from now?

Ability: Ability is your perception of your ability to bring about the change. Questions to elucidate ability include:
  • How likely am I able to flex my schedule to incorporate this change?
  • What do I think I might be able to change in my daily schedule?
  • If I did decide that I wanted to add this change, how could I do it?

Reasons: Help yourself find the reason for change using the following questions:
  • What are some of the advantages of adding this change?
  • Why do I want to make this change?
  • What might be the good things about making this change in my life?

Need: Need signals a sense of urgency or importance for change and is elicited by questions below:
  • What needs to happen?
  • How urgent does the need for making this change in my life feel to me?
  • How important is it for me to make this change?
Example of a "DARN" Worksheet
D:  What do I want to change?
I want to exercise more.
A: How likely am I able to change?
I can add exercise to my daily routine as I have done it before.
R: Why do I want to make this change?
Exercise is going to improve my mood and improve my physical health.
N: How urgent or important is this change?
I need to do something soon to get back in shape and to get my energy level up.

DARN are the components of motivation and the stronger your DARN is, the more committed you are for changing your behavior.

To learn more about evidence-based self-management techniques that are proven to work for depression, check out Dr. Duggal's Author Page.



Miller, W. R., & Rollnick, S. (2013). Motivational interviewing: Helping people change (3rd ed.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

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