Motivation is a funny thing. It can be sparked by something as simple as an image and extinguished just as quickly by the smallest setback. Motivation can move us to super human feats of performance but often leaves us when we need it the most. Lately I have been troubled by those that come into the gym motivated for a new start. They are willing to do anything and immediately start getting results. A few weeks in however, their attendance becomes less regular. We reach out to see if we can help them re-establish consistency. If we aren't successful, their progress slows and sometimes we lose them for good. It isn't because it wasn't working, but rather, their motivation had fizzled out.
The problem is that we make decisions with our feelings instead of our action-oriented, results-centered intellect. This gets us into trouble and leaves us without the ability to make meaningful changes in our health and fitness. Let me explain:
- Nobody "feels like" skipping happy hour to go do 150 wall balls or heavy deadlifts.
- Nobody "feels like" getting up before 5 AM to get your workout in before work.
- Nobody "feels like" club soda and carrots when chips and beer are options.
Sometimes a life event or an awareness of a decline in fitness can kickstart us into acton. We are motivated to change so we begin. But motivation only lasts so long...a day, a week, maybe a month if we are really determined. Inevitably though, motivation starts to wane and we are left with our feelings which are not always propelling us in the right direction. So where's the hope?
I don't have "the answer", but I can offer some ideas that I use. Maybe you will find one of them helpful.
- My first strategy is to make plans and/or commitments when I am feeling most motivated. Sign up for a class, make a workout date, or go grocery shopping when you are in a motivated state. This improves my chances of getting my workout in or eating healthy even if my feelings change before the workout or dinner.
- My second strategy is to employ the idea of "don't think, just move". The longer I hesitate before getting out of bed or lacing up my running shoes, the higher the probability that I am going to think my way out of doing it. My excuses/reasons are always legitimate, but the vast majority of the time they are not in alignment with where I want to be. So I try to short-circuit that thought process and begin taking action immediately upon recognition.
- Third is to focus on the long-term outcome. How will I feel about this decision tomorrow?What is the result that I hope to attain from working out or eating healthfully? Longevity? Protection from disease? Weight loss? A specific athletic event? Whatever it is, keep that in the forefront of your thoughts when a decision has to be made.
- Finally, enlist the help of others. This is where the community aspect comes in. Tell someone else what you are working on and ask them to hold you accountable. Convince yourself to go to a workout to see your buddies or have a good laugh. No one is judging your motives for being there, especially if it gets you to the right outcome.
So I leave you with this. Motivation is a fantastic tool to get you pointed in the right direction. For most though, you will need to build a framework of support to keep you making good choices and moving forward even when you don't feel like it...especially when you don't feel like it.