One of the most often asked questions that anyone who is passionate about training gets is the old chestnut; “how do you stay so motivated?”
There are a few variations on this theme. People asking people to “help motivate me”, or complaining that they’ve lost motivation or whatever. Well… usually I find it annoying when people get pedantic and quibble over terms, but in this case I think it might be helpful to do so. So, read on while I become Mr Dictionary for a few minutes.
Part 1: Motivation
First up though let me say this though. It’s not really hard to stay motivated about something when that’s what you want anyway. Right? As fair as this health and fitness stuff goes; I enjoy training, I’m pleased with myself if I set a new personal best or achieve some other performance goal, and I like the effect it has my physique too. How do I stay motivated? Why would I NOT be motivated to keep doing more of what makes me happy?
Most people aren’t really lacking in motivation. If you want something, you have motivation. That’s what the word means! Either you want to do it just because you want to do it, or you want to do it as a means to a desired outcome or result.
So, when people ask “how can I get motivated to work out?”, they actually already have motivation. They’re just not sufficiently in tune with that motivation to take action and get started… yet. Now if that sounds like you, if you want to get in tune with that motivation you’re going to have to get honest with yourself and really face up to whatever your real reason for wanting to act is. It does not have to be a commonly accepted, politically correct, positive and upbeat reason, either!
Pay attention to this part because it is of crucial importance. Get in tune with and embrace your TRUE motivation and understand that what drives you to take action is your business and your business alone. You do not have to defend or justify it to ANYONE. It’s your life, this is what you want, you have your own reasons and if people don’t like it they can JAM IT. It’s none of their damn business anyway, right? They can worry about their damn self instead of thinking they get to have an opinion about you.
Part 2: Belief
OK. I’m going to ahead and assume that after reading the first section, you now know that you DO actually have motivation, and you’re in tune with what that motivation really is. If all that’s true, what is there that could still be holding you back? What’s keeping you from getting started?
In my opinion it’s all down to beliefs, or fears. Doubts too. How about a short list of what some of these beliefs, fears and doubts might be, off the top of my head?
- The fear that the amount of effort required will be disproportionate to the amount of success that you can achieve, or the amount of happiness and satisfaction you will take from being successful.
- Lack of belief in your ability to be consistent and do what it takes.
- Somewhat irrational doubt that what works for other people will work for you.
- Fear that other people will be unsupportive or judgemental.
- Lack of belief that you really deserve whatever it is that you want. Like it’s a bit selfish or something.
Screw that for an idea though.
Maybe that list strikes a nerve. Here’s what I think though… having gotten clear on what we want and why we want it (aka, our motivation), we have no reason not to choose the most appropriate course of action to achieve that goal. Now, when people don’t do this… what’s likely to happen? Often, they choose a goal (or a pointless activity, without a goal) based on what fits in with other people’s expectations of them, something that other people would approve of, rather than following their true motivation to do, achieve, and be what they really want. Under these circumstances what is holding them back is the knowledge that “even if I succeed, it won’t change the way I feel”.
Ever heard that famous motivational quote?
Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going.
Habit, though? I dunno man, is it just me or that actually not all that inspiring? Habit to me sounds like something pointless and repetitive that you do like a mindless drone for no good reason.
Scratch all that. As usual I have a much better idea.
By definition, what “keeps you going” is momentum. That’s what the word means. To lose momentum is to stand still.
Are you guys starting to see where I’m heading with this? We don’t lose motivation, we lose (or fail to build) momentum. We still want to get closer to our goal, but without momentum we realise we’re not making any progress. We lose belief in ourselves and in the strategy we’re using and everything grinds to a halt.
Now I’ve read some advice online which is “well you just have to be disciplined and force yourself to keep going” but screw that. Why keep banging your head against the wall forcing yourself to do something you don’t enjoy any more when it doesn’t even work? Nope. It aint about discipline.
Fortunately that situation does not apply to us. We’ve gotten real and owned up to what we REALLY want, and what it would mean to us. We don’t give a crap what anyone thinks about that, we’re going to do what it takes to get what we want out of life. That means we’ve also chosen the most appropriate strategy in terms of our training and nutrition strategy. This is something I talk about a lot; if you have the right strategy, success is absolutely assured so long as you persist.
With the right strategy, momentum is like an avalanche. It starts with improvements in performance at training, then with a shift in the right direction on the scales, then with a smaller belt or pants size. With each of these events, your belief becomes stronger. With even more belief in yourself and your training strategy, your consistency and adherence improves. Improved adherence leads to new heights in performance. The cycle repeats.
This is momentum in action and so long as you have a legitimate strategy to take you ever closer and closer to your goal, you will not lose momentum.
Bottom line: get real about what you want, and how to get it.