Motivation is a powerful, yet terrifying.
Sometimes it is easy to get motivated, and you find yourself in a whirlwind of excitement.
The rest of the the time it is impossible to figure out how to motivate yourself and you're trapped in a death spiral of procrastination.
Scientists define motivation as your general willingness to do something. It is the set of psychological forces that compel you to take action. But how do you compel the psychological forces to motivate you - there is a world of difference between deciding you need motivation and getting your arse into gear and actually achieving something.
“At some point, the pain of not doing it becomes greater than the pain of doing it.” - This to me is the essence of motivation.
Every choice has a price, but when we are motivated, it is easier to bear the inconvenience of that action than the pain of remaining the same. Somehow we cross a mental threshold—usually after weeks of procrastination and in the face of an impending deadline—and it becomes more painful to not do the work than to actually do it.
It might be surprising to people who don't know me that well, but I am actually pretty lazy. If there is an easy way to do something, I usually pick it. That doesn't mean I don't work hard, or don't enjoy hard work, it just means I also like to be lazy. People always ask me how I started on this journey to healthy and active living, and honestly, it was not because of some life changing moment, or inspirational instagram video - it was because I was fed up. Fed up of feeling shit. I was staring at an abyss and I wanted out. That right there was my motivation.
But, not unlike most motivation, it came after I made the change, after I modified my behaviour. Motivation is often the result of a positive action, not the cause of it. Getting started, even in very small ways, is a form of "active inspiration" that naturally produces momentum and motivation. Thus this "active inspiration" becomes a powerful motivator.
So, this all sounds great, and you are feeling motivated, you've set your SMART goal ( Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound) and actually you are moving along nicely... then boom, one day you wake up, you are tired, grumpy and the mojo is lost. Reality has hit in.
I hate this day - suddenly what was a touchable goal is now so far away, it isn't even visable. Now what....? Are you motivated anymore? Basically... no, life is better under the duvet... right?
The second question people ask, is "How do you stay so motivated?" short answer - I don't. I was "motivated" to change, to be fitter, healthier, leaner, blah, blah, blah... Now it is just part of my every day life, I have changed motivation into habit and consistency. Of course, I have good and bad days - days where I am hugely "motivated" to achieve that illusive bubble butt, and days where I am hugely "motivated" to eat chips.... The difference is, I have changed my outlook on what I value as motivation.
I firmly believe you need to turn motivation into habit. Take the emphasis off motivation, because life is not all smiling, posting motivational quotes and sexy insta poses - you need routine. Your mind needs to have the pressure of motivation taken off it. This is important because when you don’t feel motivated, it’s often too much work to figure out what you should do next.
When faced with another decision, you will often decide to just quit. If your motivation has become a habit this solves that problem because you know exactly what to do next. There’s no debating or decision making and lack of motivation doesn't matter. You just follow the pattern.
It takes 21 days to break a habit and 66 days to form a new one.
Step 1: A good routine starts by being so easy that you can’t say no to it.
You shouldn’t need motivation to start your routine. For example, my pre-gym routine starts with coffee. Always. Then I get changed, thinking about what I want to achieve that day, maybe its the weight selection, or a new stretch or whatever. This is so easy, and I am mentally setting myself up to succeed. The most important part of any task is starting it.
Step 2: Your routine should get you moving toward the end goal.
A lack of mental motivation is often linked to a lack of physical movement. Just imagine your physical state when you're feeling depressed, bored, or unmotivated. You’re not moving very much. Now imagine you’re physically moving and engaged, it’s far more likely that you’ll feel mentally energised. Your routine should be as easy as possible to start, it should gradually transition into more and more physical movement. Your mind and your motivation will follow your physical movement. It is worth noting that physical movement doesn’t have to mean exercise. For example, if your goal is to drink a green smoothie everyday, then your routine should bring you closer to that goal.
Step 3: You need to follow the same pattern every single time.
Now you have created a series of events that you always perform before doing a specific task, training your mind, “This is what happens before I ___.”Eventually, this routine becomes so tied to your activity that by simply starting the series of events, you are in a mental state that is primed to perform. You are ready for success. and you don’t need to know how to find motivation, you just need to start your routine.
Being consistent is not the same as being perfect, I hear that. BUT consistency will build you the foundation on which you can build the steps to your end goal.
Of course, this is not going to completely eradicate low motivation, but it will help. Inevitably, your motivation will likely drop at some point. Then what? Well, I certainly don't claim to have all the answers, but I have learnt to trust the process and here’s what I try to remind myself of when I feel like giving up - cos let's face it, the brain is the google of the body - you can persuade to search for the answers you already know.
You did this for a reason.
That reason was to achieve a goal.
That goal wont achieve itself.
You have the power to choose not to give up.
Discomfort Is Temporary
The buzz at the end, will be worth it.
Success is coming.
Life is easier now than it has ever been for us humans. So maintain perspective.
Your life is good and your discomfort is temporary. Step into this moment of discomfort and let it strengthen you.
Stop worrying about not being motivated, and make your goal part of your everyday life. Make happiness your motivation, and success a reality.
You can achieve great things, you just need to keep reminding yourself that you can. The rest is basically bullshit.